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A Do-It-Yourself Embedded Linux Box 93

LennyDotCom points to this ZDNet story which should interest anyone with a hankering to build his own linux-based router, dedicated file server, MP3 jukebox, or whatever else you can fit in a 13" x 10" x 2.5" box pre-equipped with nearly everything but a hard drive. The author of this piece tells you how to get Linux booting on the optional disk-on-chip, too, so you can create one-off, totally silent machines. The price seems reasonable, too.
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A Do-It-Yourself Embedded Linux Box

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  • by DataGrok ( 81077 ) on Sunday September 24, 2000 @04:10PM (#757503) Homepage

    If you're not a "Name brand motherboard elitist"... PCChips makes some sweet looking "BookPCs". They're geared toward set-top DVD playback, and are certainly not applicable to "embedded linux." But they may be better for some than the water-cooled box with a 8MB disk-chip.

    These links are to a merchant site with good photos and info:

    I'm all about commodity hardware.

  • by neitzert ( 184856 ) on Sunday September 24, 2000 @04:11PM (#757504) Homepage
    This box is great and all, but for $299 you hardly get anything.
    Why not get the $399 NLX special at and get 2 pci slots and a drive, cdrom, zip, floppy, IRDA, and the rest of the stuff they offer!?
    Check out This [] for photos of my linux router/firewall.
  • This is quite interesting. Now let's all share our own unique(!), personal(!) experiences with similar devices for the benefit of those who will read them. Did you know that my minibar runs linux and provides IPMasq for my internal network? It's true!

    Now it's your turn!

  • by psychosis ( 2579 ) on Sunday September 24, 2000 @05:14PM (#757506)
    If you do a search on Pricewatch [] for "Book PC" (use the space!), they are for sale from Directron [] for $152 (with CD vice DVD tho). I have one, and have built about 3 or 4 others, and they are neat little machines. The S-Video output is great quality (even at 800x600), and adding a wireless kb/mouse makes it complete.... DVD models are around $90 more, but they say you can drop any DVD drive into it. A friend has had mixed luck on that front.
    Definitely something to check out!!!
  • Alternatively, if Anonymous Coward is treated as a real but "shared" user, the low level of karma would naturally pull it down to defaulting to a negative score.

    This would discourage serious posters from using Anonymous Coward instead of their own.

    Back on topic somewhat, the pricing and configuration of these "set top" boxes are quite similar to the Think NIC [] ones. There seems to be a "price point" around $325-$350.

    By the way, a monitorless NIC is priced at $199, and while it includes no hard drive, it does have a CD-ROM, which certainly provides more space than a maybe-64MB flash card...

  • I'm actually trying to turn a Boundless Technologies Viewpoint TC 200 (Thin Windows Network Client) into a dialup/router/gateway machine at the moment. It's 12" x 12.5" x 2.5" also!

    I picked it up for A$5 at a garage sale and it seems perfect for this purpose - no fan, standard IDE header inside for hard drive, standard floppy header (though I can't get that to work), built in ethernet, and 2 com ports and a parallel port. There's even a PCI and ISA slot inside, though you'd need a riser card to get it to work.

    It's a 133 AMD 5x86 chip, and is designed to run Windows using the ICA protocol. Only problem so far has been that it only has 4mb EDO ram, and Linux doesn't run on this little ram anymore. I'm currently trying to get more ram for it at the moment.

    If anyone else has played with one of these machines - do they have any kind of schematics or info about the motherboard and pins that could help. I've asked Boundless Technologies directly, but even though it's discontinued, they refuse to give me any info (but offered me support! for a fee of course! bleh)

    Pictures are available. []

    Email me at if you have any ideas!

  • Unless you go with a USB NIC, these won't support a 2nd NIC.

    They wont work as a router,
  • Ainimal *BSD install, maybe... QNX or BeIA certainly, but BeOS on an 8MB DiskOnChip?

    Don't even get me started 'bout trying to fit a Windows install on one of those things...
  • I thought the argument they were making is that every time you buy a blank tape or a mini-disk, you pay a tax to The Man which goes back to the RIAA, since of course you're infrigining their copyright with the blank media.

    They further argued that since you had paid no such tax on your hard drive, that it was clearly illegal to put copies of music on THAT.

    Silly logic, but that's what they said []:

    When digital recording devices such as the DAT and Minidisc became available to the public, consumers had for the first time the means to make very high quality recordings of the music in their collections, and to make copies of those copies with virtually no decrease in sound quality. To compensate for the fact that some level of piracy would result, and to provide the manufacturers and consumers immunity from a contributory copyright infringement liability suit, the AHRA required manufacturers of digital recording devices and media (such as DAT tapes) to: (1) register with the Copyright Office; (2) pay a statutory royalty (to the copyright holder or artist) on each device and piece of media sold; and (3) implement serial copy management technology which prevents the copying of copies. To learn more about the royalty system of the AHRA, see the section on AARC.

    I can't find the argument that "therefore, copying your own CDs to your hard drive is illegal." Maybe they dropped that...


  • My bad. (/. _does_ need a spell checker)...
  • The specs make me think this equipment is ment as a high-power settop box (svga, soundblaster, tv-out).

    I'm building a new homerouter with a Digital Multia (Alpha chipset) and Linux on it. Works ok although the disk is too small to build 2.2.17 kernels :)

  • This thing's a little bit on the side of overkill for a router. It's also a little pricey once you factor in the cpu/ram/hdd cost.
    It could easily be used to make a budget PC though.
    Where can the word be found, where can the word resound? Not here, there is not enough silence.
  • Actually this box looks really familiar to the one I have on my desktop ..
  • If you're running Windows off a DOC, you have to worry 'bout the thing writing to the disk more frequently than necessary and thus causing the flash to go bad.

    Unlike the *nices, it's pretty friggin' hard (read: impossible) to get Windows to boot happily off a read-only partition, and those flash-based devices only take so many writes... plus writing to them (which, IIRC, generally requires clearing a whole block) isn't 'zactly fast.

    BeOS I don't know 'bout, but it wouldn't surprise me if it weren't a problem. The BSDs should be fine... but didn't I say something to that effect? :)
  • You sure?

    I have used other PCChips mobo's with the built-on NIC, with an additional NIC, as a router. (It's actually on my other desk, running right now!)

    Admittedly, I have not done this with the BookPC unit. Maybe they're different in that respect, although it seems unlikely.


  • Ah yes. Because the BookPC has no expansion slots. My bad.
  • The author, John Lombardo, is the one who put together Share The Net []... one of the first linux-based routers to have a Windows-based floppy-disk distribution builder.

  • by jjr ( 6873 )
    Something like this could help people prototype a product they have in mind with out spending big bucks cool.
  • MP3s that you made from your own CDs are legal, whatever the RIAA's claim of the week is.

    On the other hand, MP3s made from someone else's copy of the same CD may be in a different category legally. got shot down for commercially offering streaming MP3s (not even downloadable ones!) to people who already owned the source CDs.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    They got a bunch of companies making stuff like this, but oddly, none of them have rs232 serial ports! only parallel and good for an embedded system, 99.9% of everything out there still interfaces through serial port.
  • by thing12 ( 45050 ) on Sunday September 24, 2000 @03:48PM (#757523) Homepage
    Amptron [] sells a couple of 'pre-systems' that are without cpu/ram/hd based mostly on i810 boards. You can pick one up that's about that size with video / audio / lan / modem / cd-rom for around $130. They've got one with a DVD-ROM and a wireless keyboard for under 300. Slick little systems.
  • It's an advertisement. Sounds like it was written by the manufacturer.


  • by Tom_N ( 141967 ) on Sunday September 24, 2000 @04:32PM (#757525)
    you may NOT make MP3s out of your CDs ... It's against the law and will be prosecuted to the maximum extent.

    This is flat-out wrong. (Although I'm not too surprised you would believe this given the source of your information.)

    Go to RIAA.ORG for more information. If you're going to do this make sure you obey the law.

    Funny, I don't remember the Constititution giving the RIAA the power to make the law. May I suggest the Copyright Office site instead?

    The RIAA also seems to like to distort history to their own ends:

    Before free speech, before freedom of assembly, before freedom of religion, there was copyright protection in our Constitution. The founding fathers knew copyright protection could improve society by preserving the economic incentive for people to come up with brilliant ideas and inventions. They also realized the fundamental fairness of granting control of the creative work to the author.

    It's extremely disingenous of the RIAA to say that copyright came before freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. The people who wrote the Constitution considered these latter freedoms to be fundamental freedoms that no human government had the right to take away. There was a debate between those who felt a Bill of Rights was not necessary (because it was implicit -- and including one might cause the Government to take away every right not enumerated), and those who felt that the basic rights must be guaranteed in writing. The people who wanted the guarantee in writing won. RIAA's assertion that copyrights came before First Amendment freedoms is wrong. But even if it were not, amendments override the parts of the Constitution that came before. So however you look at it, the First Amendment trumps copyrights, not the other way around.

    As for "realiz[ing] the fundamental fairness of granting control of the creative work to the author," copyright under the Constitution is a recognition of natural property rights (see the references in the Betamax ruling), but merely an artificial incentive to be granted if and when it serves public ends. On a different level, given how the major RIAA members routinely take copyrights away from artists, I would hardly think of the RIAA as an organization concerned with "granting control of the creative work to the author."

    The principle that the work you created belongs to you and should be controlled by you is as timeless as it is global. For centuries, new inventions, from the printing press to the Internet, have threatened that principle. For centuries, advocates have resolutely defended it. The RIAA is just such an advocate today.

    Amazing. Here the RIAA portrays themselves as being aligned with the type of "advocates" who opposed the printing press. Can you imagine where human technology and living standards would be if we still relied exclusively on hand-copied books? Need I say more?

  • I see no prices. Amptron is a manufacturer right? Then who actually sells these boxes? The $130 box is pretty sweet just what I am looking for.

  • As for "realiz[ing] the fundamental fairness of granting control of the creative work to the author," copyright under the Constitution is a recognition of natural property rights (see the references in the Betamax ruling), but merely an artificial incentive to be granted if and when it serves public ends.

    That should have been "... is not a recognition of natural property rights ...". Somehow I missed this typo in the preview.

  • 2.5 in. HD's are unbelievably cheap. (Just visit eBay.) I use straight 2.5"'s for my Toshiba, and sice the connection is a small IDE, it's the most widely available / used. (Use a Torx etc. to undo your laptop's HD if the connection is a proprietary one; you'll see.)

    I keep a small 2.1G (god! i remember when 40M was big!) HD for challenge serving.

    AFA boot speed: Fixed magnetic disk is the third slowest media for data reading. (Number two is CD-ROM, and the slowest is the floppy. Yes, I mean common formats.) Disks-on-chip are a HELL of a lot of faster than fixed disks.

    Remember Moore's Law, and wait a year and a half.

    This is apparently good and usable. Hacks, enjoy.

  • Bingo. I got mine during the rush to cheat that poor company out of an ISP contract. Very cool little box, a little on the slow end as can be expected though. I have a 13 gig drive hooked up to it now, packed with MP3's, and a nice looking big-font XMMS front end. Gotta love the TV-out and the wireless keyboard too.
  • Now, there'd be a few ways to turn this into a nice little car mounted MP3 player:
    One could use a notebook 3.25" drive, OR one could possibly rig up a nice little CD-ROM in there (although I don't know how that'd do on the road. Maybe it could work if you were to somehow buffer the MP3 to memory on play). It would be nice if you could use the Voice Control MP3 player that someone wrote for linux using the ViaVoice SDK, or Knight Rider Player (one that doesn't need LCD) using a keypad to run.
    Of course, in my home, when my comp's idle, I run Winamp with Game Commander (windoze box) and have a mic wired across my room to the doorway. The mic is enclosed so that it's facing away from the source but open to the outside. It works okay, not great (Game Commander ain't very responsive). But it's still pretty cool to be able to walk into the house (with some new girl you brought back) and just say "Play the music," and hear it playing. It's quite impressive. Get this box up and running, get a voice-control keystroke proggie (I'm sure you can find one on freshmeat), cram it all into 8MB of disk-on-chip (or get a box with a bigger chip), hook up a 9V DC to AC cigarette adapter (for the linux box), stick the box under the passenger seat, mount the mic somewhere on the cross strap of the drivers' seatbelt, and you're set. That would be one SICK audio system (although I don't know how voice recognition would work if you were blasting 500+ watts with 2 100 watt 12's in the back). If anyone builds anything like this or has any ideas (or better recognition proggies for voice control in their homes) let me know!

  • Good to know about since the linuxrouter site seems to be dead. Sharethenet is extremely easy to set up with the Windows disk.

    But as you stated.... the manual install is a bit tough.

  • You make a bunch of good comments; I guess it stands as a pretty big unknown now as to how difficult it is to create your own bootable CD as an alternative to the built-in one.

    As for the "lack of storage," I don't see that as a huge problem:

    • If your plan is to use your own customized flash card, you're going down a road towards substantial configuration complexity whereby you'll have to get quite intimate with how it works...
    • The other major way to use it is to mount writable storage from somewhere else, say via NFS, in which case what bits of storage sit locally are quite irrelevant.
    I prefer the latter option, personally; combine having writable storage elsewhere with a customized CD and this might work pretty well. All it is forcibly missing is the space for extra NIC.
  • With a HSP modem - I certainly wouldn't - unless of course the modem comes with open source linux drivers.

    Go on, tell me it does then.
  • Every press release is an advertisment. If you haven't learned that, I would implore you to actually read a few.

  • The CPU on this box is marginal for software-based decoding of MPEG video and, as you mentioned, there is no slot for a DVD drive.

    This box [], made by the same company has a DVD drive and a DVD decoder chipset. No need for DeCSS - the chipset already has a licensed CSS decoder.

  • I thought the article said it could only achieve 8 bit color
  • Surplus/auction for about $130, upgradeable to a 550 Mhz sock 7, 2 dimm slots, ati video on board, nic on board (10/100) 2 usb, parrallel, serial, etc. comes with 64 mb and a winchip-2 at 200 mhz. Runs a linux of a 16 mb sandisk as is. 2 pci slots off of a riser. (And yes, I actually am building a beowulf cluster of them...)
  • Ooops, yes you are right.
    Misreading again.
  • Take a look at Amptron's driver page []... scroll down to 'BKi810 & HTPCi810' supported under Linux - drivers for everything (Sound, LAN, Modem).

  • Let us not forget the BSD,QNX,BEOS, and even windows 9.x,NT,2000.
  • by Jenova ( 27902 ) on Sunday September 24, 2000 @03:07PM (#757541)
    I've got that box. The manufacturer is a company called AllWell

    The box is pretty ok. The only problem I have is trying to get the CyberPro 2010 chipset working with 16bit colour under X( anyone has better luck).

    The box runs hot though. Best to get a CPU fan.

  • Ah, the sweet smell of legitimacy that comes from a tired trade rag and a feeble attempt at eyeball-trolling. The only question is, which members of ZDNET's talkback-audience are simultaneously technically adept enough to be able to put one of these boxes together and not already have explored his options (i.e., need ZDNET to explain it to him)? Let's go to the field [] and find out:


    Hmmm, there are only two talkbacks, and one of them is from the webmaster. So there you have it!
  • I have one in my office right now acting as a mp3 player. yes it plays, dont try to upload when playing, or do anything else while playing as the CPU is doing everything it can to make the audio.
    Mine is overclocked to 277Mhz and it still farts (with 64 meg of ram too)
    The media GX processor in there sucks.

    If you want it as a mp3 player DO NOT get this device.

    BTW, I can mount a full size Hard drive in there along with using a card in the ISA/PCI slot.
  • by pirodude ( 54707 ) on Sunday September 24, 2000 @03:10PM (#757544)
    This is quite a cool device. The company also sells stuff like this for hotel internet access. More information about the actual device can be found here []

  • We could start making livid players and put the DVD CCA out of business :).
  • I have the same problem, but to make things worse, I am in Germany. It is virtually impossible to buy a single item on the embedded devices / settop devices market as an end user for a *reasonable* price.

    Sure, I could get a few thousands of these boxes, but all I want is one. If anyone out there can recommend me a German distributor of this or similar devices where I can buy a single box, please let me know.

  • A fan is a good idea. Did you notice the author's warning near the bottom of the article to be careful not to unplug anything while the power is on? Maybe lack of audible 'breathing' caused the author to make this mistake with this box.
  • by thing12 ( 45050 ) on Sunday September 24, 2000 @03:54PM (#757548) Homepage
    this one's better [] and it's available right now - just add cpu/ram/hdd. (these people [] sell the base system for $260... pretty good deal)
  • Damn, you're right! Hrmmm... well of course they do have other methods of accessing it like the lan, and the standard kb/video... heck even the modem. And someone will develop a way to use USB as a console eventually... I hope.
  • It's a nice day for a white wedding.
  • Okay, so it's not as sexy and it's not water-cooled, but Egghead [] has a Fujitsu-Siemens network terminal called the Scovery [].

    It comes with an integrated 10/100 NIC, Rage IIC video card, 64 megs of ram, a 200 mHZ processor and a 16meg Sandisk with Linux, Netscape, and terminal emulators already installed. I have two of these. I took the Sandisk out of one and put in a hard drive, floppy, and CDROM, and use it as my portable Linux box that I can take to work in my backpack. (I'm too cheap to just buy a laptop.) The other one will eventually be a router for my network at home.

  • If that is too difficult....

    Pretty brain dead setup. I use it for easy connection to a cable modem.

    I use LRP when I want complete control over everything.

  • This looks like a for Jailbait Linux [], the distribution that became popular as something that would install on the Netpliance I-Opener's 16MB ROM.
  • I don't understand why you just don't get a NIC and use that (it has a few limitations but not too many). A plus is that it already runs Linux.
  • Not true! Check out the Scovery []. It has serial, parallel, usb, ps/2, vga, and ethernet ports on board.


  • I just read the description of the Think NIC, and it looks interesting, but it has a few gotchas to it that would keep me from recommending it to neophytes:

    - 800x600 max video resolution
    - No hardware storage alternatives (ie: floppy, hard disk, etc.) Maybe a Zip will be supported via USB some year. Please .. at least something simple should be available.
    - One choice of printer (Epson 740?) at the moment.
    - If you don't want the vendor's OS upgrade, it's hard to do one yourself. For example, are you going to be able to create a bootable linux CD with no swap support and the FLASH device drivers that will actually work?

    On the plus side, it's going to be hard for a user to screw anything up. And it does have ethernet, which is very forward thinking. There are going to be more and more broadband connections.

    They shouldn't call these things computers. They are terminals, in the classical sense. Back 15 or 20 years ago, you could by a VT220, hook it to a modem, and be able to dial PSI Net, your local campus computer, or whatever. You then sent email, worked on your programs (via shell access), or did whatever. 20 years later, we've come back to that. Except now we have graphics. ;-)
  • Umm, in Germany during WW2 the Nazis had absolute legitimacy, because they controlled the goverment. Now the RIAA has at last count helped get a LARGE majority of congress and senate people elected. This means that those people are prbly going to help them out. This means that the RIAA is effectivly in control. This means that, yup you guessed it, the RIAA has legitimacy.
  • ACNT [] for one.

    here's another selling prebuilts []

    and yet more [] :-)

    Enjoy! These are great little boxes.
  • Yeah I read that, but I didn't see anything about it being driven by Livid. Although being linux based I don't see why or why you couldn't make it use livid.
  • I know I'm responding to a troll but:

    From the website: "What is your stand on MP3?

    This is one of those urban myths like alligators in the toilet. MP3 is just a technology and the technology itself never did anything wrong! There are lots of legal MP3s from great artists on many, many online sites. The problem is that some people use MP3 to take one copy of an album and make that copy available on the Internet for hundreds of thousands of people. That's not fair. If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail. But the fact that technology exists to enable unlimited Internet distribution of music copies doesn't make it right. To learn more about digital music, visit the Music and the Internet section."

    see it for yourself here []


  • MX3036/stbmx3036.html This feature is sure to raise some interest with the linux crowd. (In black, right column.) : ) -=nft=-
  • That's [].

  • UMSDOS supports permissions and POSIX filenames, which are important for any secure system (does VFAT honour setuid/gid bits?)

    If the disk-on-a-chip supports VFAT, it will support UMSDOS perfectly well.
  • Do you have Linux installed on that machine?

    I've been trying to find a way to get the S-Vid Out to work under Linux but have absolutely no luck whatsoever.

    I want to use it in my living room, but it serves a greater purpose as a Quake 3 server/Seti@Home machine, so I'd rather not install Windows just to get the S-Vid Out working.

  • But it doesn't look like the Scovery has S-Vid or Composite Out, which would make it less attractive as a set-top box.
  • This would discourage serious posters from using Anonymous Coward instead of their own.

    1. It would be hard for serious posters who *need* to be ACs (because they're revealing secret info, or something).

    2. Trolls would just create throw-away accounts (JUST LIKE THEY DO NOW)
  • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) < minus caffeine> on Sunday September 24, 2000 @03:20PM (#757568) Homepage
    Is it just me, or does that look EXACTLY like the Innovator WebSurfer Pro? (Remember, the one that you could get for $50 for a few days because CompUSA screwed up in their advertising?)

    Innovator probably licensed one of AllWell's designs and added their own software.
  • Yah, but then it's much less of an embedded system. You've actually got moving parts... eww! :)
  • They have a box on the way that has pretty much the same insides, but will add a DVD drive and vacuum display on the front. I'm going to wait for that one to build my dvd/cd/mp3/mpeg player, with web server to control playback, and the X-10 powerline interface to control all my house lights and appliances.

  • That made me wonder when I read the article. I thought MediaGX had VGA intergrated onto the CPU. Have these folks put something else in there?

    I've only managed to get 8 bits out of MediaGX under red hat. Mandrake got more out of it using a frame buffer. Windows drivers can get much more, grrr. My Cyrix boxes do best with Red Hat and that's where I've left them.

  • This would make a sweet MP3 player. I wish you could cram a bigger( 3.5in )hard drive in it. How fast does it boot off the disk-on-chip? It would make a really good appliance if it can turn on as fast as my stereo or TV. If it had RCA inputs and room for a bigger hard drive we would have a sweet alternative to Tivo. The only problem is the price. It's got lots of features, probably too many. If you could get half the features for half the price it would be perfect.

    That was the way it was! And we liked it!!
    -"Grumpy Old Man"
  • This looks like a slick box, but I'm in need of help with an older machine that runs the MediaGX.

    I have a GCT-MGX running Samba, but haven't been able to get X running on it. It's a 5510 chipset, with 32MB RAM and the MediaGX running at 200MHz, and the manufacturer is belly-up.

    All help appreciated. [mailto]

  • You forgot Win 3.11 and Mac OS 7.5

  • by Anonymous Coward
    WebSurfer Pro []
  • Yeah. I have one too, just haven't had time to hack it yet... my iOpener has priority, just need to make a cable...
  • I've been seeing ads on the TV here in the US for a device called the GlobalPC. It looks very similar to the device shown in the article, it sells for $299, it's 8 bit color (I think), etc etc etc.

    Is this the same thing? If not, could a GlobalPC be used in a similar way?


    With all the stability troubles friends of mine have had with Cyrix CPU's, I'd rather wait for their Transmeta units. Should run a whole lot cooler too.
  • has some SBCs w/ built in Audio for $325 ... Get a IDE FlashDrive from for around $100... The SBC is the size of a 3.5" hard drive and has everything on board (even LCD controller) and the FlashDrive is perfectly quiet... the amount of mp3s you have depends on how much money you want to spend. Or you buy two of to boot and one for data...plug it into your computer and copy your mp3s to that..

    Or get the SBC with ethernet, and get a sound module for the pc/104 connector... even better actually (or get a ethernet connector for the pc/104, which is easier than finding a sound module)

    Its pretty much what my senior design project is...

  • Maybe all Anonymous postings should start at -1 so moderators wouldn't HAVE to waste their points to make the browsing experience more pleasant by eliminating trolls.
  • I don't think there's any limitation to "one backup". If you need a cassette tape, a MiniDisc, a MP3 file, and a CD-quality copy of a song for a compilation CD-R -- and you own the source CD -- you should be able to copy to all the formats you use. (Note that the right to use the copies goes along with the ownership of the original; if you sell the original, you should transfer or destroy the copies to the extent feasible.)

    If, on the other hand, you want to make 10,000 CD-R "backups" of an album to sell from the back of a truck, expect the authorities to pay you a visit.

  • So plug in some USB serial interfaces. I've seen some Belkin ones on retail shelves, and I'm sure others make them.
  • Haven't played with one of those -- but if the floppy drive is not working, were you able to get a BIOS config screen and see if it is enabled?

    Or else with the cover off plug in an ISA system I/O card with its own floppy interface and see if you can get that one to work -- of course, that probably also would require disabling internal floppy with a jumper or BIOS setting.

    Hmmm... I wonder how much diskless support it has -- maybe it will respond to a non-ICA Ethernet boot server and install a remote client in RAM? Or else if its built-in software supports a serial terminal or telnet and you can download stuff to a hard drive, you could download a DOS-filesystem Linux to the hard drive.

  • Wee-hah! No more disk-swapping and power-supply fan-creaking! I've got a router/packet-filter/masquerader set up in my home, an old P-100 with no hard disk. It's big, it's bulky, the power-supply fan makes too much noise (still quieter than an HD though), and I need a boot/root disk set.

    This looks like it could solve my routing problems, because (I imagine) the power supply has no fan, I can get rid of my disk set, and I can hide it under a desk.

    These kinds of toys are just plain cool, except the price is a little steep ($299), considering my present box is free.

    What would have been cooler, in my opinion, is if they had made it System-on-a-chip, not Disk-on-a-chip. Just have one chip, one PCI/ISA combo slot, and all the built-in stuff (NIC, display, keyboard/mouse). It would be like the Mac G4 cube, but smaller--just big enough to hold a second NIC and a power switch you don't need a paper clip to use, just small enough to tape to a wall or something :)

    I do not belong in the domain.

  • I can't find the argument that "therefore, copying your own CDs to your hard drive is illegal." Maybe they dropped that...
    I noticed that myself. Awhile back the subject of the RIAA's view on fair use came up and I was going to use this particular tidbit as an example. But its gone now. The RIAA has aparently been revising its stance. Or at least how it presents it.
  • Mailorder within europe is not a problem anymore. But we still needs to find a place that sell it ...

    /Anders Majland, Denmark
  • Well damn...

    I wish they had been selling that when I was building the machine that serves as my router/dvd player/mp3 jukebox. I even bought a black case and wireless keyboard from those people.


  • Although I don't deny the coolness factor of these boxes, and the high level of flexibility that they allow, it would seem that the author could have solved his problem much more simply- with a 1 port router from someone like linksys or D-link at 1/3 of the price (I know those are dirty words for some)....

    The latest firmware revision allows IPSEC packets to pass through, in addition to providing standard NAT functionality. Unless he wanted to do more, like link up two nets via IPSEC, which is beyond the capability of a $100 router. Netopia routers can, but those are about at the same price as his homemade router. That would be a much simpler setup though- plug it in, set up a few IP's, and go.
  • yeah, well, be careful of what you say on mr. 'codeman's website. if he thinks you're in competition with him (you try to sell items that aid in hardware hacking on a box that he considers his pet project) he'll ban your ass from his board.

    sure, webmasters do get to say what goes on on their site. they pay the b/w (usually) and its their box you're running on. but don't expect 'free speech' on someone else's web-board.

    and don't even try to suggest you move the discussion or technical content to a Neutral Zone [sic] - ie, usenet. the kiddies on that board don't seem to understand such novel concepts as usenet.

    (yeah, moderate me down; I have enough points... sorry, but I needed to vent a bit about that whole 'codeman' thing...)


  • If that Think NIC [] cheap linux box had 4 ethernet ports instead of 1 (think "Hub" or "Switch"), I would definitely have bought one of those instead of the $169 cable modem firewalls.
  • I think it uses a PCTel modem chip. These are the guys really helping on the Linmodem front. They were the first to post a driver at
  • by d-ude ( 106541 ) <sch740&yahoo,com> on Sunday September 24, 2000 @03:29PM (#757592)
    If you want to explore the hack value further, go to Linux-Hacker [] where Ken Segler (a.k.a. codeman) has some modification info on the original Websurfer Pro, which is made by the same company. He has a BBS there too with alot of good technical info amassed by people using these things.

  • If you have a hard drive, just install Linux elsewhere, with a custom kernel and maybe a tiny distro like Jailbait. Then move the hard drive back to your terminal. And you might up using an NFS, DHCP/bootp/tftp, or VNC client. Maybe the SVGA or GGI VNC client. If you can hook up a floppy disk, you have an alternate remote installation method.

    Kernel 2.2 is even more optimized for such low memory than 2.0 and earlier, due to modularity and other optimizations. Slackware claims to be interested in 4MB RAM installations. :)

  • I think that if you were using the same device for output and input in your car, you could just have the input channel (mic) filter out what was going over the output to the speakers before it would decode the voice. That way, it would just have what you said, no matter how loud the music is. Just a thought, but I think that would work.
  • According to the specs it supports IDE (one chain or two, depending on the model) so you could put drives in it, but if you aren't into the drive thing... The DiskOnChip also goes up to 144MB which is enough to at least get BSD and BeOS going, and a careful install of Windows and some basic apps should fit too...

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard