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Hacking Express gate (Asus Splashtop)

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  • ST is very restrictive by default. You can only store onto usb drives. When you add a terminal however you can do much more. But after a certain time you get to a point where adding extra features is lost time. I. e. you have to update pidgin over and over again. Basically you would need to update the browser, flash and if you packaged java yourself even this again. And that you do only for yourself which i consider really lost time. I provide updates for my own distro, but there i am not the only user.


    • Just wondering if something simple like a notepad that you can paste text into is that big a deal for these vendors to do? Could I be the only person that thinks like this? Say it isn't so.


      • I'm not getting, did someone unpacked CEFULL, CE.CEX and kernel.bin ?

        Seems like there is initial filesystem somewhere, which is copied to RAM and then *.sqx are merged with it. I suppose it's the most interesting part of it.

        Moreover, i found apt in one of the sqx. Seems like we can arrange expressgate repository and maintain packets...if someone will do it, of course. I can even provide some hosting.


        • Hello everybody,

          I have an Asus notebook and the Express Gate (EG) works well, but I need to power-off the laptop first, then push the
          Express Gate button to start it. Since I have grub4dos isntalled, I would like to add a menu item to menu.lst
          to start EG. So the menu item would be:

          title Splashtop
          kernel (hd0,0)/ASUS.SYS/ce_bz

          But I only have CE.CEX, CEFULL and kernel.bin files in ASUS.SYS directory.
          How can I proceed?

          Thank you in advance.


          • Hello,

            i saw some people wondering that splashtop/ExG doesn't support ahci mode...

            i own the M51Vr Notebook with HDD ExG
            installed by default (by ASUS Support, i had my notebook sent to repair)
            on a 9.77GB Partition (sda1) with
            FS-Id: 0x1C Hidden Win95
            containing the both dirs (asus.000 and asus.sys)

            this partition is hidden and if i set it active, the vista recovery is booting. to boot splashtop i can leave it inactive and hidden. i also have to turn off my notebook and press a seperate ExG power-on button
            with the mp3-app i have access to my ntfs partitions (with sata controller in ahci mode) an to usb sticks of course, unfortunately not to ext3 partitions, where my music is stored

            perhaps my bios automatically switches the operation mode of my sata controller when i boot splashtop..?

            it would be great if we had webspace to collect the modified splashtop versions to make it easier to add apps and functions to ExG, sure, everyone could read the things posted here and try this for himself, but why if someone else has done this already...
            at lest we could organize the tips and hints in a wiki with how-to s

            it should be also possible to create patches for ExG and ExG SSD, (for the non SSD version it would be way easier)
            to e.g. enable a terminal, enabe more fs support etc.

            this picture shows the mp3 app with access to the partition where ExG is installed and my other two ntfs partitions for winxp

            in the info popup you see the ExG Version and a wrong description text XD as it should read ExG instead of HP instant on OS...
            Last edited by b3nz0l; 10-28-2009, 06:20 AM.


            • Hey, i did a .sqx with xterm. You just need to set recovery partition non-hidden (but not active) to have access to it from windows, and place va-term.sqx to ASUS.SYS.

              There will be an icon in the panel...

              Oh and dont forget to strip .sqx version information from ASUS.SYS/version file, as said Kano:

              dd of=version bs=1 seek=32 count=0
              this should be done in linux(or you can use dd for windows), or you just cut this file to 32-byte length manually (using a hex-editor)


              • You can add extra files without that mod, just not replace existing ones. The name does not need to have .sqx ending btw. but va- prefix.


                • 2 Kano:
                  You said, you did some .sqx packages with useful soft. Would you be so king to send them to my email syn [at] li dot ru ? I will setup some kind of .sqx storage, so anyone could download cool things for his expressgate.


                  • so this sounds like a good step... i could also provide a few Gib to host something (on my private server)...

                    additional i'd like to have something like this: (but it should be written by someone knows what he writes

                    Asus Express Gate (ExG) is a branded and more or less modified version of DeviceVMs Splashtop pre-boot / Instant-on environment wich allows very fast access to teh internet, music and pictures.
                    ExG was shipped in 2 versions, the original and actually best version is located on an onboard SSD. The other "lite" version was installed on a seperate or on the ntfs partition of Windows on the HDD.
                    splashtop uses TinyX
                    the splashtop system is basically read out of *.sqx packages which are squashfs files wich can be accessed and unsquashed with the following tools .... and you should use the versions from ... to... newer versions will produce errors on unsquashing.
                    the sqx files are named bs-*.sqx , va-*.sqx and there is some kind of bootloader named cefull and of course the kernel.bin
                    in the HDD version the splashtop files are located in a folder called asus.sys, the SSD version is packed in an image file witch is compressed as tar.gz and renamed to .dfi.
                    to, say, change something in the configuration of splashtop you have to extract and unsquash (all?) te files until you get the usual linux folder structure. there you can edit the files and repack them.
                    now lets upgrade the system
                    to add a console and other apps you have to get a packages fom another linux version e.g. debian etch, kanotix thorhammer or puppy linux, the ones from ... should work best as they can be converted
                    its important that the sqx files in witch you squash your packages are named starting with va-... so they are loaded automatically on startup and and can be started with...
                    a key binding made with an .... entry in the file .... to add a symlink (what is rxvt and how to create symlinks?)
                    or you call them via console
                    so the added sqx packages are accessible with the automatically added icons in ???
                    to convert the packages you have to......
                    lets explain it with adding the following commandline app and the konsole of course....
                    when do you have to modify/ cut witch header in what way to reach what?
                    i mean some kind of "user-proof" how-to ....
                    i could translate it into german ;D


                    • I think the most user-proof solution is to make own package...

                      There should be dev branch, so advanced users could take advantage of our work and move it further, and 1-click-magic-installers, so users could use it.

                      I think we also need to setup some wiki, just to organize existing knowledge.