Installation of kernel modules
Since there is no official powerpc kernel module package available for our particular version of kernel, we have to manually install the pre-compiled modules.
At the Installer GUI, press ‘Alt-F2’ to open a second termial console and press ‘Enter’ to activate it. Now input the following commands into the console:
cp -a /lib/modules /lib/firmware /target/lib chroot /target depmod -a exit
And we are done. Press ‘Alt-F1’ to return to the Installer GUI and select ‘Continue’ to reboot Wii.
If you happen to forget to perform this step during installation, you can either boot into the Installer again, manually mount the partition you just installed to and use the above commands with appropriate changes, or boot into the newly installed Debian (see below) and manually extract the contents of ‘modules.tar.bz2’ into ‘/’.
Boot the installed Debian
Booting the installed system is very similar to booting the Installer. All that has to be changed is the kernel used.
If you have not done so yet, extract the ‘apps’ folder, which holds the kernel of IOS version, or the ‘bootmii’ folder, which holds the kernels of MINI version, to the root folder of the first FAT partition of the card. For the MINI version to work, Bootmii files (armboot.bin, ppcboot.elf and bootmii.ini) should also be placed inside ‘bootmii’ folder.
To boot Debian in IOS mode, select ‘Debian’ from HBC.
To boot Debian in MINI mode, either load a file like ‘d.480i(NTSC).elf’ through Bootmii GUI, or rename the file corresponding to your TV signal format to ‘ppcboot.elf’ and let Bootmii auto-launch it at Wii power-on, or boot directly into it by launching Bootmii installed as IOS from HBC.
It is perfectly OK to use IOS mode for installation and boot in MINI mode, and vise versa. In other words, the root filesystem generated by the Installer is compatible with both modes.
Also note that the pre-compiled kernels all assume the presence of root filesystem on second partition of front SD (‘Whiite style’). If your root fs is located elsewhere, you will have to manually hexedit the ‘root=’ kernel commandline argument in the kernel files.
In addtion, video driver in all the pre-compiled kernels has been configured to run in overscan-safe mode with a smaller than maximumly possible screen size. If you wish to disable this to get full screen display, add ‘nostalgic’ parameter to ‘video=’ argument in the kernel commandline.
Debian backports enable users of Stable (Squeeze for now) and Old Stable (Lenny for now) to enjoy the benefits of some new(er) packages available only in Testing or Unstable. To enable backports repository in Lenny, add the following line to ‘/etc/apt/sources.list’:
deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports lenny-backports main
For Squeeze, add the following line to the same file:
deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports squeeze-backports main
Remember to run ‘apt-get update’ for this change to take effect.
Installing and using a desktop environment
A Linux system with only text-mode consoles to play with is not much fun. Although Wii is an extremely low-end machine, it is still possible to install and run a full-fledged X window system on it, but it is advised to use one of the ‘light-weight’ desktop environments on top of X, such as LXDE. Just type ‘apt-get install gdm lxde xorg-xserver-video-fbdev’ in the console, go get a cup of coffee or tea and almost everything will be in place after a while.
If you are in Squeeze, you do NOT need to create or edit a ‘xong.conf’ file. Modern X is totally capable of figuring out pretty much everything by itself.
If you are in Lenny, you will have to modify ‘/etc/X11/xorg.conf’ by adding a line to the following Section:
Section "Device" Identifier "Configured Video Device" Option "UseFBDev" "true" EndSection
so that the Section now looks like this:
Section "Device" Identifier "Configured Video Device" Driver "fbdev" Option "UseFBDev" "true" EndSection
Debian with a splash
After the system is installed and running, you may want to avoid seeing those boring kernel and userspace messages during boot time. The simplest solution is of course splashy. Run the following in a terminal console/emulator:
apt-get install splashy splashy-themes
To enable splash, kernel boot commandline must be modified to contain ‘splash quiet’.
What about ‘cube’?
As mentioned earlier, the currently available ‘cube’ Xorg driver, with minor patching, is only compatible with the version of Xorg server in Lenny. Consequently, it is not possible to use it in Squeeze or higher. A pre-compiled version of the driver along with a corresponding xorg.conf file is included in the Lenny installer. Just extract the contents of cube.tar.bz2 into your root filesystem. Since ‘cube’ only supports 640×480 NTSC, you will have to add ‘nostalgic’ parameter to ‘video=’ argument in the kernel commandline, and force NTSC in ‘video=’ argument, if you are not using it.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE FOLLOWING ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE
Disk image with pre-installed Debian
Being a low-end machine with low disk I/O, it takes a lot of time and patience to do a full installation of Debian on Wii, even without installing a GUI desktop environment. Fortunately, since all Wiis are made the same, we can create a pre-installed disk image that can be simply dumped onto a SD card (or USB storage device) and boot into Debian on any homebrew-enabled Wii.
The downloaded package is a compressed image file derived from a 4GB SD card partitioned into a 1GB FAT first partition containing the kernels, an about 2.8GB second partition with a Debian Lenny LXDE installation, and a third swap partition of about 100MB. You will need a 4GB or larger card to use the image and make sure to back up your data on the card, because it will be irreversibly overwritten.
If your OS has the GNU ‘dd’ utility (all *nix-like systems do), just type the following in a console/terminal, assuming /dev/sdd is your card:
dd if=Lenny.bin of=/dev/sdd
If you are on Windows, you can either use various dd ports for Windows (Google is your friend) or use the Grub4DOS Toolbox for Windows utility.
The root password is ‘wii’, as is the user name and password of the normal user. Enjoy!