Bluish Coder

Programming Languages, Martials Arts and Computers. The Weblog of Chris Double.


The N900 is a phone with Linux installed and a hardware slide out keyboard. It's no longer supported by Nokia but there's still a lot of community support for it. These notes are for useful things that can be done with the N900 post-Nokia support.

Latest Nokia firmware

The latest Nokia firmware update is PR 1.3.1. In "Settings", "About product" this can be seen as version "21.2011.38-1".

The Maemo community have taken over producing updates. See the Community SSU page for details.

SDXC card support

The N900 supports 64GB SDXC cards. They can't be used directly as they come formatted with the exFAT filesystem which the N900 does not support. When first inserted you'll get an error message about an unsupported file system type.

I formatted my SDXC card with the ext2 after installing. Note that this wipes all data on the card. To do the following as root on the N900 in a terminal:

# umount /media/mmc1
# sfdisk --change-id /dev/mmcblk1 1 83
# mkfs.ext2 /dev/mmcblk1p1
# mount -t ext2 -o noatime -o nodiratime /dev/mmcblk1p1 /media/mmc1

The following commands need to be run to recreate some directories used by N900 programs with the correct user permissions:

# mkdir /media/mmc1/podcasts
# chown user /media/mmc1/podcasts
# mkdir /media/mmc1/DCIM
# chown user /media/mmc1/DCIM

One downside to using the ext2 filesystem is that the card is not automounted when booting. This can be fixed (I'll add instructions later) but a workaround is to manually mount it after booting:

# mount -t ext2 -o noatime -o nodiratime /dev/mmcblk1p1 /media/mmc1

Install extras-devel repository

The extras-devel repository has some applications that are in development and not ready for wide use. Some useful applications (eg. backupmenu) are available from there but care should be taken when using extras-devel that you don't install development versions of dependancies you don't want.

To enable extras-devel (from the maemo wiki):

  1. Navigate to the application menu (tap the title bar)
  2. Select 'Application catalogs'
  3. Select 'New'
  4. Enter a catalog name of 'Maemo extras-devel'
  5. Enter a web address of
  6. Enter a distribution of 'fremantle'
  7. Enter components of 'free non-free'
  8. Select 'Save'

To tell apt-get not to prefer extras-devel over extras when packages exist in both, create the file /etc/apt/preferences with the following content:

Package: *
Pin: release l=Extras
Pin-Priority: 1001

Then run from terminal:

# rm /var/cache/apt/*.bin
# apt-get update

To install versions of software from extras-devel when there is a copy available in extras, you need to tell tell apt exactly what version of software to install:

# apt-cache showpkg <package>

At the bottom there will be a listing of versions under "Provides:". To install a particular version use

# apt-get install <package>=<version>

Use portrait mode in the browser

When in the default web browser, open the menu by clicking the title at the top of the screen. From there choose 'Options' and then 'Settings'. In the list of settings click "Enable Rotation". The browser will now auto-rotate between portrait and landscape.

GPS satellite data

An application called 'gpsdata' is available in 'Application Manager' that shows details GPS information including satellite strength.


The N900 uses the Nokia server for using the network to help find a faster GPS lock. Sometimes this server seems to be overloaded or slow. It can be changed to to use Google's server which can result in a faster lock. Try the different servers to compare lock time. It can be changed in 'Settings', 'Location', scroll down to 'Location server'.

Wifi monitor mode and packet injection

Kernel Power is an updated kernel that includes new wireless drivers. It provides monitor mode for wireless and packet injection. This allows tools like Kismet and Aircrack to work.

Email notification sound and volume

To change the notification sound or the volume when new emails arrive:

  1. Launch "Settings"
  2. Choose "Profiles"
  3. Scroll down to "Email Alert"

You can change the volume with the slider and press the "Email Alert" button to change the sound.

Enable Facebook Sharing

The application to allow sharing to facebook is available on the Nokia Store. Unfortunately it no longer validates successfully with Facebook when creating the sharing account. To fix this you need to enable the extras-devel repository, as described previously, then install libcurl3 from the terminal:

$ sudo gainroot
# apt-get install libcurl3

Once installed you can create the sharing account from the "Settings" application and validate with Facebook.

Turn off vibration alert on incoming emails and chat

If you have vibration enabled the N900 will vibrate on incoming emails and chats. This can't be disabled via the GUI (other than disabling all vibration) but can be changed via editing the /etc/mce/mce.ini file. That file has good instructions for what can be changed. You need to be root. It can be edited from the terminal with vi:

$ sudo gainroot
# vi /etc/mce/mce.ini

Remove the section PatternChatAndEmail from the VibratorPatterns line, and add a semicolon in front of the PatterChatAndEmail line to comment it out. Then run the following commands after saving the file:

$ stop mce
$ start mce

Force media player to reindex

Sometimes when copying media files onto the memory card, or using different media cards, the media player will display files that aren't really there, or not display files that are. To fix this you can force a reindex of the media files by running the following command in a terminal:

$ tracker-processes -r

Once this completes, restart the media player and it will start to index the files again.