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Thread: Hacking Express gate (Asus Splashtop)

  1. #201
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    Sounds like yours is an embeded install on a piece of flash memory on the motherboard, i think its usualy USB.
    Which means it is in the form of a compressed image.
    I believe you work on those by downloading the most up to date copy, uncompressing the files, edit, recompress then flash.

    Read your HDD Install htm though see what info it gives.
    You can maybe do a hard drive install which is easier to edit etc.

  2. #202
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    hmm dead topic?

  3. #203
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    Sorry, I have been away on holiday and hence haven't had access to my computer for the past month.

    Anyway weisshund, make sure you are using version 3.4 of squshfs-tools; a higher version will not work and a lower version will not decompress the files.

    sjwoo, it does look like you have ExpressGate installed on a built in SSD/USB Stick. That HDD partition looks like it is purely used for synchronizing your bookmarks etc. between ExpressGate and your primary OS. Download the latest ExpressGate update from the Asus website for your laptop and take a look at what version it is, if it has a DFI file then its an SSD version. Based on that you can see how to proceed.

  4. #204
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPARTAN View Post
    Sorry, I have been away on holiday and hence haven't had access to my computer for the past month.

    Anyway weisshund, make sure you are using version 3.4 of squshfs-tools; a higher version will not work and a lower version will not decompress the files.
    Hmm, i know it isnt lower because i can decompress all the squash files easily, but it may be higher, it was what ever version was in the ubuntu depository.

    Why ASUS would include splashtop/express gate on new high end motherboards, and assume the user would be viewing it on a 14" vga monitor is beyond me.

    Now days if you want a 4:3 aspect monitor on anything but a bottom end new PC you have to specially ask for it or buy one extra.
    Virtualy nothing is shipping with a CRT anymore, nothing that id guess the average expressgate user would own.

    Not to mention LCD's at non naitive low 4:3 resolutions generaly look like ass if you are going to attempt to read test etc
    Boggles the mind doesnt it?

  5. #205
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    Yeah, the Ubuntu repository version is 4.0, you'll need to download 3.4 from the sourceforge site and compile it. (Got a tutorial on that on my website here)

    Its actually not that simple, you see at 1680x1050 I get lag when opening, minimizing and moving windows in ExpressGate (and thats on a Core i7 930) so my guess would be that they keep the res low to improve people's overall impression of performance.
    I am aware that certain LCD monitors have hardware settings to allow Pillarbox view modes for lower resolutions which would fix that problem, unfortunately though mine doesn't

  6. #206
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPARTAN View Post
    Yeah, the Ubuntu repository version is 4.0, you'll need to download 3.4 from the sourceforge site and compile it. (Got a tutorial on that on my website here)

    Its actually not that simple, you see at 1680x1050 I get lag when opening, minimizing and moving windows in ExpressGate (and thats on a Core i7 930) so my guess would be that they keep the res low to improve people's overall impression of performance.
    I am aware that certain LCD monitors have hardware settings to allow Pillarbox view modes for lower resolutions which would fix that problem, unfortunately though mine doesn't
    Mine doesnt do rez in a rez either.
    it has simply stretch to full screen, or display original incoming resolution.
    But 1024X768 just does not display well on a 16:10 LCD

    Considering how well tiny linux and puppy linux and the other micro distros work in that aspect, you would have thought that the splashtop guys would have put atleast as much thought into it.

    Video lag sounds like a not well written video subsystem, just my uneducated guess.

    Shame you cant easily replace splashtop with like a stripped down version of ubuntu or redhat etc, with same simple features and the ability to add in a few extra tools.

    thier concept is good but the follow through is lacking.
    Isnt even a new idea, i once had a Tandy 80286 RLX-1000 HD, that booted MSDOS 5.0 from an EEPROM, virtualy instant on (as instant as 8mhz can be anyways)

    Going to change out squash tools to 3.4 and retry and ill tel you how it goes, both boot wise and laggy video wise.

  7. #207
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    Yeah, I believe they stripped out all but the standard X video drivers so everything is software rendered etc. Then its also probably single threaded, all for size remember. Since the smaller the distro the faster it will boot.

    Try the original incoming res mode, that should display a pillarbox style, at least you will get the same clarity as you would have on a 14" screen

    I'm sure they did put just as much thought if not more into SplashTop, bear in mind that it was never designed to be your primary OS, just something to do the quick e-mail check on (if your main OS failed maybe )

    Bingo, well in this case I'd say it was a VERY stripped down one.

    True, I believe SplashTop 2.0 is due out soonish, and it is rumored to have expansion support (without hacking it). Whether current SplashTop products will be upgradable with an update remains to be seen.

    Yeah, they just implimented it better than most and marketed it better. No small company that designs the perfect linux distro is gonna be able to compete with deals with Asus and the likes...

    Good luck, thats the only problem I can see in what you've done

  8. #208
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPARTAN View Post
    Yeah, I believe they stripped out all but the standard X video drivers so everything is software rendered etc. Then its also probably single threaded, all for size remember. Since the smaller the distro the faster it will boot.
    Id almost buy that except my splashtop/expressgate install is well over 300mb, 483Mb IIRC.
    Ive a live boot mini CD that is much smaller than that, and supports more at least graphicaly.

    Try the original incoming res mode, that should display a pillarbox style, at least you will get the same clarity as you would have on a 14" screen
    Unfortunately no, larger widescreen LCD's do a horrid job when forced to display things the way splashtop is doing it.
    The text is plain unreadable.
    It's fine if i poke on an old 4:3 LCD from an old e-machine

    I'm sure they did put just as much thought if not more into SplashTop, bear in mind that it was never designed to be your primary OS, just something to do the quick e-mail check on (if your main OS failed maybe )
    Guess we have to disagree there, since it has web mail VOiP IM photo and music listening capabilities.
    And Each particular package has a generic idea of what it will be running on (they have MB hardware specific folders etc)
    Could have definately been done better, the laptops especialy, where you know the exact screen model X will have, and the exact rez it should be to have the best readability.

    True, I believe SplashTop 2.0 is due out soonish, and it is rumored to have expansion support (without hacking it). Whether current SplashTop products will be upgradable with an update remains to be seen.
    Depends on ASUS i imagine, since there is no direct DL to splashtop itself (unless youd like to go the source code route etc)
    1.4 is the most current for the HDD install my MB uses.

    Good luck, thats the only problem I can see in what you've done
    Didnt work with squash 3.4
    Same thing happens, if i change the rez it ceases booting.
    Must be that the software renderer is possibly incapable.

    THink i might poke around and see if i can learn by what means it boots splashtop and see if it can be made or tricked, into booting a different kernel.

  9. #209
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    Id almost buy that except my splashtop/expressgate install is well over 300mb, 483Mb IIRC.
    Ive a live boot mini CD that is much smaller than that, and supports more at least graphicaly.
    Yeah, I must admit that does have me a bit stumped. But then again, distros like DSL have a very minimal (and AFAIK programatically generated) UIs. SplashTop has a (comparatively) very nice UI which makes use of images among other things.
    Then there is the fact that it doesn't use the base X window management system.

    For some reason they have also seen fit to put 1 background image for each possible resolution (not the best approach IMHO)

    Unfortunately no, larger widescreen LCD's do a horrid job when forced to display things the way splashtop is doing it.
    The text is plain unreadable.
    It's fine if i poke on an old 4:3 LCD from an old e-machine
    They do, I gathered from your previous messages (probably incorrectly) that your monitor had a function to display only the resolution it recieved, essentially preventing the stretching/blurring that occurs on a standard monitor that tries to upsample the image.


    Guess we have to disagree there, since it has web mail VOiP IM photo and music listening capabilities.
    And Each particular package has a generic idea of what it will be running on (they have MB hardware specific folders etc)
    Could have definately been done better, the laptops especialy, where you know the exact screen model X will have, and the exact rez it should be to have the best readability.
    It does, but if your main OS dies then those are the things you'll be likely to want more than anything else.
    I agree, I would really have enjoyed it if they had thought it out a bit better regarding the resolutions. It appears that their main focus with those profiles was which chipset drivers and features to load (WiFi etc.).


    Didnt work with squash 3.4
    Same thing happens, if i change the rez it ceases booting.
    Must be that the software renderer is possibly incapable.
    Thats very weird, I know that the only way that worked reliably for me was using a terminal to set the DI_RES_LIST=... and then running the resolution selection screen. You have to run the python script though, not the bash one as the bash one will reset those values while the python one will not. (Got all the stuff in that tutorial)


    THink i might poke around and see if i can learn by what means it boots splashtop and see if it can be made or tricked, into booting a different kernel.
    I seem to remember someone managing to use SplashTop to boot another distro using a kernel loader that they added to their SplashTop image. I haven't tried it but who knows, might be worth a shot .
    Unless you can disassemble the BIN files in the image I don't think you're gonna have much luck modding the kernel that it loads initially though...

  10. #210
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPARTAN View Post
    distros like DSL have a very minimal (and AFAIK programatically generated) UIs. SplashTop has a (comparatively) very nice UI
    Yes, DSL and most even full size linux distro's lean towards the clean
    look with most tasks being on the floating on demand task menu.
    They can be the other way though with no trouble, i suppose its mostly a community preference and add to that the fact that those distros dont quite come as finite prepackaged items, they expect you will learn how to repackage the distro in your own customized form.
    Splashtop expects you will do nothing but click thier predefined buttons.

    (they dont know us very well do they?)

    For some reason they have also seen fit to put 1 background image for each possible resolution (not the best approach IMHO)
    Got me there, waste of space IMHO.


    They do, I gathered from your previous messages (probably incorrectly) that your monitor had a function to display only the resolution it recieved, essentially preventing the stretching/blurring that occurs on a standard monitor that tries to upsample the image.
    I can stretch or show exact input
    Niether way displays a very nicely readable display though
    I would compare text to looking at broken cheerios.



    It does, but if your main OS dies
    Well if due to hardware failure, splashtop is porked as well since for me it is a hard drive installation, no MB based flash or USB memory location involved (ASUS M479TX EVO)

    Thats very weird, I know that the only way that worked reliably for me was using a terminal to set the DI_RES_LIST=... and then running the resolution selection screen. You have to run the python script though, not the bash one as the bash one will reset those values while the python one will not. (Got all the stuff in that tutorial)
    Yea i tried the thing in your tutorial (the one with no file editing needed) and when i went to changed the res after calling the python script, splashtop like restarts and its back to square one.
    Otherwise i would just write and save a small script to do just that, and call it done.


    I seem to remember someone managing to use SplashTop to boot another distro using a kernel loader that they added to their SplashTop image. I haven't tried it but who knows, might be worth a shot .
    Unless you can disassemble the BIN files in the image I don't think you're gonna have much luck modding the kernel that it loads initially though...
    Might be easier on mine being that i have no "image" per say
    will have to look into it.

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