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Trying out Meego offspring Mer and Nemo on ExoPC (WeTab)

Even though Steven Elop, Intel and the Linux Foundation killed the Meego project, the code base is not dead. In October 2011 the Mer Project was forked out of Meego and quickly attracted the development community that had grown distrust in the original Meego project, for very obivious and good reasons, of course.

In the summer 2012 Jolla came into publicity announcing they’ll continue the Meego and Qt story and bring a new mobile device on the market, based on the code base living in the Mer and the Nemo UI projects. Although the Jolla user interface will not be the same as Nemo, it might still be interesting to try Mer and Nemo out to see what they look like at this stage.

A word of warning: much of the Nemo UI is still work in progress, so you should use it for testing only.

If you want to try Mer and Nemo, and, in particular if you happen to be one of those who have an extra Lenovo Ideapad or ExoPC tablet lying around, here is how to do it.

Start by reading the instructions about i586 installation at the Mer wiki. Basically download the latest image and write it to a USB stick using a command like the one below, naturally substituting the image name with the current one and sdb with the actual USB port name.

sudo dd if=nemo-handset-i586-0.20120816.1.NEMO.2012-08-31.1.img of=/dev/sdb

The insert the USB key into your device and boot from it. If you have the ExoPC, press the “BBS” box when booting starts, and the BIOS will show you the boot menu. Pressing the upper left hand circle button one changes the selection, and long pressing it selects.

This starts up a live environment. To install on the device hard drive, open the Terminal app and to get root access by running


This will prompt for a password — by default it is ‘nemo’. Then start the installer by running


The installer provides the options to either install using all of the hard drive or install by using only the available free disk space. Unfortunately the latter option is buggy, and it too will wipe out the entire hard disk. When the installation is done, you can shut down the device by running

halt -p

Then remove the USB stick and start the device again. Voilá — you will now have Mer and the Nemo UI installed!

Updating to latest development version

Once you have installed Mer and the Nemo UI using any development snapshot there is no need to reinstall it using a USB stick. You can simply run updates from the device to get everything to the latest available version.

At the moment there are some conflicts in the startup scripts, forcing the graphical environment X to shut down if its package is touched during an update. Therefore, the best way to run updates is to press Ctrl+Alt+F2 to get a text console. The text console has no touch keyboard, though, so you need an external USB keyboard to write any commands. From the text console, log in using credentials root/nemo and to refresh the package information run

zypper refresh

Finally, to install all updates run

zypper update

Switch back to the graphical console using Ctrl+Alt+F1 or just reboot the device.

Now you can experience the latest version of Mer and the Nemo UI!

The biggest issue at the moment for ExoPC users is that most of the Mer community seem to do their development on ARM platforms. Therefore, the Linux kernel package for Intel x86 platforms is a bit outdated at version 3.0. Hopefully one day an update to the kernel-adaptation-pc package will bring Linux kernel version 3.6.


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One thought on “Trying out Meego offspring Mer and Nemo on ExoPC (WeTab)

  1. Robin Burchell says:

    Note that there is a bug filed for a kernel update, and an experimental new package:

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