May 13, 2007

True Confessions: Installing IPKs

Posted in Linux/Zaurus Tips and Tricks, Zaurus Trials and Tribulations at 7:49 am by sdjf

About a year ago, I made the mistake of using the GUI for installing an ipk meant for another distro, an arm.ipk that was not necessarily for the Zaurus, and it totally messed up my Zaurus. So, I am overly cautious about ipks now.

I do try to make backups before installation, but I also have had some backups that yielded “bad tar header” messages when I tried to view them, and/or which the GUI could not use without failing. I don’t recall the complete details of the scenario now, but I know it was a lot of work to make sure the newer files I needed were saved and restored when I performed a necessary hard reset and restoration from a backup file in order to get my Zaurus working again.

So, unless I know for sure that someone else with my ROM has had success with an ipk, I tend to unpack and install by hand, so I have more control over the process.

And, even when I’m feeling brave about installing an IPK, I often get the “no space left on device” errors. My collie’s internal memory is nearly full, and IPK installation using the GUI requires lots of space, at least 2 megabytes or so in addition to the space required to unpack the IPK.

I’m working on clearing space now, but it’s difficult because my primary SD card has a bad spot, and I’m in the process of backing up the data on it to a CF card, so I can reformat the SD card. But that’s a lot of work, so it’s taking a long time. I guess I just don’t have enough experience with tar backups and reformatting for it to be routine yet.

Meanwhile, I have a long list of IPKs for applications I really want, sitting on my expansion cards, waiting for me to do something with them.

So, when several newbies asked IPK installation questions in a short span of time, maybe that’s why I decided to work on the IPK installation guide for the Zaurus, for Antikx’s tyrannozaurus Zaurus Handbook. It gives me a chance to put down in one place what I have learned so I can share it easily, and also gives me a chance to get clarity on what I still need to understand better.

If you want to see how far I have gotten, or contribute to my effort to delineate how to troubleshoot problems with IPK installation, get started by reading my current draft at:

If you see anything that is not clear enough, or want to answer any of my questions, you can <!– either join in on the thread on this topic at, or you can –> contact me.

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