SDHC bugfix release + updating software in the Nokia tablets


Who wants to live forever, by Natascha2007

This attempts to be a common response to a meta-thread with instances in maemo-users and InternetTabletTalk.

– Sorry for the SDHC bugfix release, but the other option would have been just to wait for Chinook. We thought it was worth going ahead to avoid more hassle to certain SDHC owners doing certain long downloads over the air.

– The only change is the memory card bugfix. All the rest stays the same. As you know Chinook is already in beta stage and trying to include other bugfixes or improvements in yesterday’s release would have a) given a wrong message (“So this is the new release???”) and b) caused delays in the Chinook release.

– About the tablets being Debian GNU/Linux based computers and not mobile phones. Yes, true, but this bugfix was done in the kernel and as for today kernel + initfs are not deb packages in the device. Otherwise we could probably have pushed the fix via single click install file instead of whole IT OS image to reflash.

– The good part of this is that actually reflashing the kernel is enough to implement the bugfix. You can keep all the rest (including your extra applications) untouched.

– About Nokia plans to improve the updating software process in the tablets. I don’t know much about the past but I can tell about the future:

1. Chinook comes with a process to backup the data about the extra applications you have installed. Reflashing will be still needed since kernel + initfs still won’t be packaged, but at least users will get their extra apps back as part of the reinstallation process instead of having to manually install everything they had.

2. Chinook supports also the configuration of multiple repositories in the install files. Note that a lot of the hassle and conflicting dependencies were caused when one install would require pulling dependent packages from more than one repository (i.e. the famous Python runtime issue).

3a. Between Chinook and Diablo we plan to address The Repository Issue(s). We can’t do this without the maemo developers at large. Part of the issue seems to be that many developers find their reason to create their repositories elsewhere instead of using extras. We need to discuss and fix what can be improved so extras and the official Nokia/maemo repos are the main reference for everybody.

3b. There was this discussion in maemo-developers of having an extras repository with a community-based quality control. We are all for this. Once this is in place and all we are happy, Nokia will start recommending 3rd party apps in the extras repository to end users. In fact extras is going to be preconfigured in the application manager already in Chinook, but users will need to activate it manually.

4. The plan is to have by Diablo a set of improvements in the application manager that would make software updates seamless to end users. We could then push bugfixes and feature upgrades without waiting for a next IT OS release. At this point we should have Full IT OS based on packages, including kernel and initfs. We will be careful with the full upgrade based on packages since it will need a lot of testing (automatic & human, internal & public) before being offered as the default option.

5. Minor or major software updates compatible with your mum should be a consolidated fact by Elephanta. No more PC needed to get your updates. Reflashing would be still kept as an option but having a more “start fresh” approach.

Of course these plans might change over time but this is the path to go. The Application Manager is developed quite openly, with fresh code ready for testing available in Sardine and a lead developer quite responsive in the maemo lists. We will continue sharing plans and development about seamless software updates (but before we need to get the Chinook release out).

18 Responses to “SDHC bugfix release + updating software in the Nokia tablets”

  1. 1 David

    Thanks for this posting (and the ones on the mailing list). It is always nice to see responses from people within Nokia when those outside have things they would like to see improved.

    My one comment is that a lot of the complaints would probably have been satisfied before they appeared if the update release notes metioned that only a kernel flash was required.

    Thanks for the great work and for continuing to improve the process though.


  2. 2 qgil

    Mmm yes, I agree.

    We probably wouldn’t have mentioned this in the official announcement since updating only kernel is not officially supported, nor a prcedure we would recommend to pure end users.

    We could have been more explicit and act faster commenting in bug #1204 and releasing immediately the source code and the patches. This would have been the clearest message for the developers that then can translate the message to power users and maemo followers.

    Anyway, thanks for the good marking.

  3. When I click on your link to the announcement, I get a login page on Shouldn’t announcements be public?

  4. 4 qgil

    Of course the announcement is public. My mistake to put the https link instead of http. Fixed and thanks.

  5. 5 Ryan

    I’m curious if the other issue (data corruption from over-the-air or internal memory card) can also be fixed with just a kernel flash, or if that requires the full thing. There were some significant issues with backup/restore between the 3 series firmware and the first 4 series firmware, as would be expected – could I also expect that since this is a single/few changes, I could safely backup from my current 4 series firmware, flash, and restore?

  6. 6 qgil

    Hi Ryan, as said above:

    – The good part of this is that actually reflashing the kernel is enough to implement the bugfix. You can keep all the rest (including your extra applications) untouched.

  7. 7 josh

    This is great. This is exactly what should be happening – imho. So – thank you very much!

    Would it be possible to have some installable script that would update the kernel? I imagine something that you install through the app manager. Perhaps this, or something similar, is what is coming with Chinook?

    Thanks again!

  8. 8 qgil

    Flashing the kernel alone is not officially supported and as Nokia we are not planning to offer any nice&easy system to do it – not to confuse the average end user.

    There flasher tool for Linux supports this and the ITT the thread linked above has a small howto. Try this at your own risk.

  9. 9 josh

    Ah yes – this I know and have done already. In fact I wrote the original wiki entry on itt for updating the kernel not using a PC (not that I came up with any of it – I just got tired of having to search for the info every time I did it!). You did answer my question though – you guys (Nokia) are not going to do this for us. I guess I was thinking that if it were an installable script, then the end user wouldn’t have to do anything other than use the app manager. Thanks again! It is really nice to have this kind of contact!

  10. No scripts to end users. As explained above what we are doing is fixing the issue from the root(fs) 😉 by converting kernel et al in debian packages updatable via application manager and even a simpler interface. But this will take some time.

    Thanks to you for your feedback and contributions!

  11. 11 penguinbait

    I am missing something, while this seems to have fixed my problem, the description of the issue it fixes does not match my experiences. When untarring large files from flash to mmc1 or mmc2 (2gb kingston mmc mobile or 8gb class 6 kingston) 50% of the time my system would reboot, regardless if I download to flash, mmc, or copy using card reader. This indicates to me a problem, not having anything to do with wlan, and everything to do with mmc kernel support. Will we ever know what really went on, or why Nokia took so long to acknowledge this issue? As I said before, after 2 years I am sick of being the unpaid beta tester for this product!!

    As the Beastie Boys say, GET IT TOGETHER!!!!

  12. This is a great example of clear, precise communication… exactly what I had once infamously hassled Quim about (much love, man). I am so glad to see the barrier broken and the dialog flowing!

  13. 13 penguinbait

    Hmmm, clear, unless you want real information about the actual problem or what exactly they fixed. Not sure how nokia qa missed this in the first place.

    DIG dig poke,

    Maybe Nokia could offer incentives to QA staff for those that find problems, perhaps a more stable platform would follow.

    I do not claim to know anything about Nokias internal processes, and I dont mean to be so harsh, but you will forgive me for not being excited about a fix for a problem that I never should have had.

  14. Hi penguinbait, what an honor.

    This is not the place and nor I am the person to discuss and even provide technical details. Nor an announcement to end users, if you ask me.

    These details are being provided in bug #1204 as well as in the maemo-users thread linked above.

    Check my comments #105 onwards in bug 1204 where I’m explaining there why took so long for Nokia to acknowledge officially the issue. In that bug report you can see that the first public acknowledgement is made on July 15, and in the following weeks my colleague Eero is taking part in the discussion.

    About quality, we do extensive testing on our software before releasing it. Note that this bug and the damages caused are a combination of a Linux kernel bug that had been around for a while (for everybody, not only in the IT OS), a very specific use case (described extensively by Eero in comment #120) and some SDHC cards not fully compliant with the standards: a combination that apparently nobody had hit before. Note also that the use cases for reproducing this bug with the official software alone are relatively rare, you have to perform specific actions mostly with 3rd party software (***not guilty nor related to this bug***) to detect it. I mean, yes we have a responsibility in the fact of releasing software with that bug but I hope it is clear that the issue wasn’t that simple to detect beforehand, nor was simple to find out why some cards got corrupted and others not.

  15. “3a. Between Chinook and Diablo we plan to address The Repository Issue(s). We can’t do this without the maemo developers at large. Part of the issue seems to be that many developers find their reason to create their repositories elsewhere instead of using extras. We need to discuss and fix what can be improved so extras and the official Nokia/maemo repos are the main reference for everybody.”

    Yes it s a good idea to have a shared repository … but it’s really to difficult to upload his own package. I create my package onboard on my n800 with PyPackager, and all the tool needed for the upload isn’t available. !!!

  16. Khertan, please go to and report there your problem, if nobody else has done it before you. It’s the best way to fix issues and move forward. Thanks!

  17. 17 cmetz

    Really nice post. Clear, lucid and providing a good sense of direction to those of us who are newly enamored of this platform despite the growing pains along the way.

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