I have a Galaxy Note 10.1 (n8010) and I want to make it boot Arch Linux natively. I mean boot Arch Linux instead of android. All that I need is to alter the initramfs, which I can't find anywhere in the world. My questions:

  • Do I need to alter only the initramfs, or I have to cope with other things too? (such as the kernel itself)
  • [DONE] Where an I get the CyanogenMod 10.1's official initramfs (github maybe)? Or I have to self-compile the CyanogenMod's kernel and extract it from the zImage?
  • [PROBABLY] Can I have the Arch linux root inside the android data partition? (e.g. /data/linux) Or I have to buy an SD card?
  • What else do I need to know/do?

Edit: I found how to alter the initramfs :)

  1. unzip rom (CM10.1 for n8013 used)
  2. wget http://whiteboard.ping.se/uploads/Android/unmkbootimg.gz
  3. gunzip unmkbootimg.gz
  4. ./unmkbootimg boot.img (save the command given with mkbootimg!)
  5. mkdir initramfs && cd initramfs
  6. gzip -cd initramfs.cpio.gz | cpio -i
  7. Alter the init scripts <- testing that right now, I'll post the correct once done
  8. find . | cpio -o -H newc | gzip > ../initramfs.cpio.gz (not sure if the command is right...)
  9. cd .. && clean the directory so that only initramfs.cpio.gz and zImage is left...
  10. execute the mkbootimg command you saved before...
  11. flash the new boot.img :)

Edit 2: The initramfs is fairly easy to build You just need to mount the root filesystem (either a the partition or the linux image) and point to its init through a symlink inside initramfs

The problem is that you need kernel 4.x to boot Arch's new systemd

In order to get the kernel working you need a serial console to see the errors and stuff. When I build the kernel I'll post the needed config settings.

For those that don't have mkbootimg (you get that by compiling a kernel) I found a precompiled one


  • Did you ever manage? Were you able to have ssh over USB at boot?
    – Michaël
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 12:47
  • I managed to boot it. It was not THAT difficult, but for sure systemd won't play (I don't remember exactly why). The game changer was UART over headphone jack, it made everything much easier (I could see the whole boot process). What I didn't manage to do is video output... It was just pain and I left it. If you manage to get it to work, please report back.
    – dzervas
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 3:42
  • Would you have any pointer to how you had UART over jack working? —I'd like to use an old phone with a broken screen as some sort of music server, so as soon as I have sshd and sound, I'll be happy.
    – Michaël
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 11:40
  • You simply have to break out the headphone jack, add a resistor and connect it with a UART to USB converter to your PC. Thing is, that Nexus 5 suported this exclusively, so I don't know if/which other phones support it... You have to search it (ex. "UART on Nexus 4")
    – dzervas
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 15:06

3 Answers 3


Not sure if this helps buts it's a howto for Arch Linux http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2195778

  • 6
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    – slm
    Commented Apr 20, 2013 at 4:54
  • yes! you're right!! Now, I want to find a way to alter the recovery to be able to boot from an sdcard partition...
    – dzervas
    Commented Apr 20, 2013 at 8:38

I found a tutorial for a similar task, How to Install Ubuntu Linux on Your Google Nexus 7 Android Tablet, maybe it could be adapted to suit your project? It uses fastboot to unlock the bootloader and reboot with a different bootloader. HTH, I've never played with an Android.

  • 3
    well, ubuntu for phone is not... real ubuntu :P it's based on cm10 (an android "distro"). so it's android with different layout...
    – dzervas
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 19:45
  • Good to know, when I get my first tablet / smartphone, I will want a familiar Linux distro, installed cleanly. I know this isn't quite what you were asking for, but since there has been no response to the question, I hoped this Ubuntu example could be adapted for Arch. Maybe the files / bootloader installed by fastboot could be replaced? Or maybe I'm in over my head here. Good luck, and be careful!
    – Dan Ross
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 18:30
  • 1
    no, ubuntu uses the Java VM, which has to do with booting etc.
    – dzervas
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 13:46

It is impossible to use native Arch on common smartphone.

Arch supports only x86_64. But there are unofficial arch arm

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