Installing Jlime Vargtass

Installing Linux on the Jornada 6xx can be pretty technical, so I’ve made a small guide to help users through installation and configuration. Also, check the Links section for further help or information on running Linux on the Jornada.


Running Linux on the Jornada needs a CF card (256MB or more recommended) which has been properly prepared. What this means is that you need to have some way of running Linux on your PC (either by installing it on your hard drive or by booting it from a CD/USB stick “live” – see below for more). You need Linux to create “special” partitions on your CF card, something that can’t be done under Windows.

You don’t have to modify your hard drive or mess with any of your data in order to use Linux – you can work in a temporary “live” environment by downloading a Linux distribution (I recommend you download SystemRescueCD. It’s easy to use, small and does the job nicely), copying to CD (or even to a USB stick) and booting it.

SystemRescueCD has an easy to use graphical partition editor application called Gparted that I recommend using. Launch Gparted using the icon on the taskbar, choose the CF card using the drop-down menu on the top-right and start making partitions!

Be very careful that you’re indeed editing the partitions on the CF card and not on your hard drive! Even though nothing will happen until you press the “Apply” button, losing data for stupid reasons is annoying, to say the least.

You need to create three partitions in order to install Linux on the Jornada.

  • The first partition is the FAT32 partition. This will be accessible in Windows CE, and should be more than 8MB in size. If you plan on using Windows CE too, make this as big as you need it.
  • The second partition is the ext2 partition. This will be where Linux will be installed, and needs to be at least 128MB.
  • The third partition is the linux-swap partition, and is used for “virtual memory” under Linux, in case you run out of RAM (which happens a lot :) ). You minimally need it to be 16MB in size, though more than 32MB is probably too much.

Check that you’ve made these three partitions on the correct disk and press “Apply”! It should take a minute or so depending on your machine.

You’re done preparing the CF card! That wasn’t hard, was it?


In order to install Linux on your Jornada you need a userland, which is an archive containing a Linux installation which you extract inside the ext2 partition plus a bootloader and configuration file for your machine.

At the bottom of this page you can find links to the latest userland and bootloader for 680/690 plus some useful links with information on running Linux on the 620/660 (which require different versions of the bootloader).

You can either install under Linux or Windows, though Windows hasn’t been tested much and requires you to install some extra drivers for the ext2 partition. Since you already need Linux to create the partitions, installing under Linux is probably easier.

What you need to do is download the latest userland (latest as of now is Vargtass 5.0, named “vargtass-image-5.0.tar.bz2”). Next step is extracting the userland.

Go into gparted and see what name the ext2 partition has. In most cases it will be something like ”/dev/sdb2”. Open up a terminal and type:

mkdir /mnt/ext2
mount /dev/sdb2 /mnt/ext2

Replace ”/dev/sdb2” with whatever name you got from Gparted. This will make the ext2 partition accessible to the system. Next, we extract the userland to the ext2 partition:

tar -xvvjf /root/vargtass-5.0.tar.bz2 -C /mnt/ext2

Be sure to point to the correct location of the userland file by replacing ”/root/vargtass-5.0.tar.bz2” with the correct location. This will extract the userland into the ext2 partition on the CF card. Next, mount the FAT32 partition, in which we will place the bootloader, config and kernel (shlo.exe, shlo.txt and zImage, respectively).

mkdir /mnt/fat32
mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/fat32

Now, copy shlo.exe and shlo.txt you downloaded below plus the kernel which comes from the userland installation into the /mnt/fat32 partition and unmount both partitions.

cp /root/shlo.exe /mnt/fat32
cp /root/shlo.txt /mnt/fat32
cp /mnt/ext2/boot/zImage-2.6.17 /mnt/fat32/zImage
umount /mnt/fat32
umount /mnt/ext2

You’re done! You can now remove the CF card and get on with using Linux!


Inserting the CF card in the Jornada should result in a folder named “StorageCard2” or something like that appearing in My Handheld PC. In that folder there should be three files, an executable named “shlo.exe”, a text file named “shlo.txt” and a file named “zImage”.

By default, the shlo.txt file is set up for a Jornada 680 with 16MB of RAM. If you have a Jornada 690 or a 680 with the 32MB RAM extension installed, open the shlo.txt file with Pocket word and replace “hp680” and “mem=16M” with “hp690” and “mem=32M”. Save and close Pocket Word.

You can start booting JLime Linux by tapping on the shlo.exe executable. A disclaimer screen should come up. Press “I agree” to continue. It will take a couple of seconds to start the boot process. The Jornada may appear to have frozen but don’t worry. Only attempt to reboot the Jornada if it has remained frozen for more than 2 minutes.

Hopefully, you should have a nicely working Linux installation running on your Jornada, breathing new life in this old (but not useless) piece of hardware. Enjoy!