Ben NanoNote New User Guide

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So, you've got your spanking new NanoNote, booted it up and played around with it. Marveled at the screen and tiny keyboard. Showed it to friends and colleagues (to much 'Oooh!' and 'Aaah!').

Now what?

This page is a short guide for the new NanoNote owner, describing how to do the basic initial setup and where to go next. It assumes a certain familiarity with Linux or Unix.

Feel free to add content to the guide.


[edit] What's in the Box?

See Ben NanoNote box contents for details!

[edit] LCD Covering

The Ben Nanonote, as shipped, has its LCD covered by a plastic sheet. Is this meant to be removed? Can it be replaced?
This film is only for protection in manufacturing manipulation and transport; it is not intended to be on the device for normal use. It is usually removed by the customer once it arrives in his hands as you can see it becomes ugly quickly with normal use.

[edit] Linux on NanoNote Basics

Some things that are good to know about your NanoNote:

  • The default shell is ash
  • You can switch between consoles using Ctrl+Alt+<any F-key>
  • Editors: vim, nano and joe are installed by default.

[edit] Setting the Date and Time

[edit] Updating to the Latest Firmware

The first thing you want to do is probably to upgrade your NanoNote to the Official Software Image. This procedure can seem a bit daunting, but it's really not that complicated. Please note that any customizations (installed packages, customization changes to /etc) stored on the root partition will be lost.

[edit] Installing OpenWrt Packages

The NanoNote uses a package manager called opkg. Once you've got a network connection from your machine you can use it to install and remove software packages, or upgrade your existing packages to newer versions.

  • This page has a nice (but short) guide on networking and opkg.

You can also add and change the software available as packages yourself. See the Building Ben NanoNote software, Software Status and Nanonote_Software_Demos pages.

[edit] Configuring Networking

In order to do anything remotely interesting with your NanoNote you probably need to set up networking.

  • This wiki page has instructions for Linux users.
  • agrajag has some pointers on how to get network sharing working with OSX (you need to scroll down a bit on the page)

[edit] Formatting the Data Partition

Although the NanoNote has a 2GB flash memory built-in, you will notice that the root partition is only about 225MB or so. You need to format the data partition to access the rest of the memory.

[edit] Power State Transitions

What does opening/closing the lid do?
Nothing — it cannot be detected.
What is the red LED on the right-hand side for?
It shows when the battery is being charged. If it goes out while still connected via the USB cable then the battery is fully charged.
How long do I need to wait until I see any reaction to switching Ben on?
Apparently about one second. Then some pre-boot messages scroll by for about two seconds until it says “Starting kernel...” and switches to the OpenWrt welcome screen. That screen then sits there for about 20 seconds before it offers you “Please press Enter to activate this console”.
What is the proper way to switch Ben off?
How unintended is it to have to use the power button to switch Ben off?
Apparently not really unintended — it is the main method to switch off besides halt.
How long do I need to press the power button to switch Ben off?
Once we press it, it will immediately run poweroff. The shutdown process needs four to five seconds, but you only need to press the button for a short while to initiate shutdown, not for several seconds.
According to Issue 27, it should take less than one second.
The power button has also been seen not working at all, while halt still turned the device off without a problem.
Does it come with any suspend mechanism installed?
Apparently not at the time of writing.
How can I switch Ben off while it is in USB_BOOT_mode, with no usb_boot tools on the host side?
Taking the battery out is one way.
There is also a “reset” button at the back of Ben.
How can I see how much charge is left in the battery?

cat > /usr/bin/btr
#!/bin/sh -e 

min=`cat $dir/voltage_min_design`
max=`cat $dir/voltage_max_design`
now=`cat $dir/voltage_now`
echo Battery: $(( 100 * ($now-$min) / ($max-$min) ))%

[edit] The Boot Workflow

  1. Power on Ben.
  2. Hardware will check the usbboot pin (under the battery).
    1. If the usbboot pin has been shorted, go to [Hardware USB BOOT Mode] --> [wait PC usb connect] --> [END]
    2. If not shorted, go to step[3].
  3. Load the bootloader to ram.
  4. Bootloader will check if key [U], [S], [M] pressed.
    1. If [U] pressed, go to [Software USB BOOT Mode] --> [wait PC usb connect] --> [END]
    2. If [S] pressed, enable the serial console, goto step[5]
    3. If [M] pressed, go to step[7].
    4. If none pressed, direct goto step[6].
  5. Wait input from serial console for 5secs.
    1. Has input, enable bootloader console. Stop at bootloaer.
    2. No input, go to step[6]
  6. Load the kernel, boot the rootfs in NAND.
  7. Load the kernel, boot the rootfs in sd card.


  • Whenever you press [reset] (back of the device), it will always go to step[1] and go through those following steps.
  • If something went wrong in step[3], the Ben's screen maybe black and nothing happens. In this case, you can try to take out the battery or use the reset hole, and if it still doesn't cure your Ben, you need to reflash the bootloader.
  • If something went wrong with loading kernel, Ben will stop at screen with some messages like: fail to load kernel ...... then we need to reflash the kernel.
  • If something went wrong with booting to rootfs, Ben will stop at slash screen "OpenWrt". And no message at the end of screen. Then we need reflash the rootfs.
  • USB BOOT software and hardware is decribed at the page USB BOOT mode

[edit] Breaking out of gmenu2x

The most recent software images has gmenu2x activated by default. While being a pretty nice menu system for handheld devices, it is not (yet) particularly useful. So, you may want to disable Gmenu2x autostart.

[edit] Making the Terminal Larger with Smaller Fonts

See Ben NanoNote fonts.

[edit] Using Dingux Software

Ben Nanonote is fully compatible with Dingoo Linux (Dingux) binaries. That means it is able to load the majority of Dingux games (some don't work because of cpu differences, or different location of root filesystem).

You can download Dingux software here.

Key Bindings:

D-pad up:
D-pad down:
D-pad left:
D-pad right:
A button:
B button:
X button:
Y button:
Left shoulder:
Right shoulder:
START button:
SELECT button:

[edit] Using screen

Put this in /root/.screenrc:

backtick 1 59 60 /usr/bin/s
hardstatus alwayslastline
hardstatus string '%{.W} %=%{= WK}%?%-w%?%{= rW}%n:%t%{= WK}%?%+w%?%{.W} %=%{= WK}%1` %C %A, %D %d %M ' that when screen runs it shows something like this:

  0:ash   []:99%  8:55 PM, Sun 27 Jun

..on the last line ( assuming /usr/bin/s is your battery status script as detailed above).

[edit] Mounting an SD Card

It is better to insert the SD card after Ben has booted. Then all SD card partitions will automatically mount as /mnt/mmcblk0pX. If you want to mount an SD card during boot, look at the following document: Alternatively, add the following command into /etc/rc.local:

mount /dev/mmcblk0p3   /card3

[edit] Other

The OpenWrt greeting picture hides most of the console — how do I get rid of it?
After you activated the console with Enter, at any time in the shell: hit Ctrl-L, or issue the command clear.
How do I get the wireless working?
There is no wireless device built in — it only greets you with “Wireless Freedom” since it is shipped with the embedded linux distribution OpenWrt installed, which has its origins as open firmware for wireless routers.
What are the most exciting, useful, or impressive applications installed on Ben as it ships?
Apparently vim.
What is vido? Looking at its strings reveals use of gtkmm, but running it only produces a dead white screen.
vido is an offline wiki viewer based on OpenZIM and GTK2, mentioned in the announcement of new images on 13 March.
Is there a way to get Ben to appear as a USB mass storage device?
yes but there are cons see the mailinglist.

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