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Hardware Build

Build Your Own StrongARM Linux Computer 107

krp writes: "From the LART FAQ page: 'The LART is a small yet powerful embedded computer capable of running Linux. Its performance is around 250 MIPS while consuming less than 1 Watt of power. In a standard configuration it holds 32MB DRAM and 4MB Flash ROM, which is sufficient for a Linux kernel and a sizeable ramdisk image.' Full schematics and CAD files for the main board, kitchen sink board, the boot loader (BLOB) and patches for the Linux kernel are available for download as well as various software tools. This tiny machine could be ideal for embedded / portable / wearable applications -- there are some pictures (including a LART running off a small battery!) in l'ART gallery. "
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Build Your Own StrongARM Linux Computer

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is also a project called Linux In A Box available at []. It runs on an i386EX.
    Worth a look if you want to build your own cool MP3 player :-)

    - Husted
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Can you imagine a beowulf cluster of these?"

    seriously though, doesn't smaller form factor make it easier and more attractive to built clusters?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 13, 2000 @03:36PM (#1133906)

    There's another, perhaps more accessible ARM based Unix computer out there for experimenters.

    It's call the Chalice CATS, a ATX-form factor board, with a StrongARM processor (at 233 MHz,
    IIRC), and most of the other features of a relatively modern PC (3 PCI/4 ISA, parallel,
    serial, USB ports, SDRAM DIMM memory, UDMA/33 IDE port).

    It ships with NetBSD, but if there has been some porting effort for Linux.

    Have a look-see: []
  • Um, why can't we build are one. They may not be selling pre-built systems, but all the schematics are there.
  • The LART is designed as an embedded system. i.e. *small*

    I'm involved somewhat with a videoconferencing research project here. There's been talk of wireless, and we looked at the Itsy, but its license is EVIL. This thing is nearly perfect!
  • Others have provided references to the HP Jornada, which is indeed a StrongARM/WinCE-based notebook computer, as well as the Yopy, which is a StrongARM/Linux-based handheld computer.

    It would be a cool thing if there was a Linux port to the Jornada, unfortunately, the references I can find on the LinuxCE mailing lists are not terribly specific/useful. []

    What's really unfortunate is that there has been no progression of the StrongARM series over the last couple years. It came out as a slick, low power, 250MHz CPU. That's still what it is, despite two years of surrounding technical advances. Transmeta Crusoe is becoming a available for similar applications, and may provide an even better mix of computational power and "battery efficiency."

    Of course, the funny thing is that [] sells the Journada 690 [] as a Linux-compatible [cs.uit.wo] product!

  • There are some detailed HOWTOs on []. The Netwinder gives you the option to boot from the network (kernel via TFTP, root filesystem over NFS) so it's actually fairly easy to install new images. Just net-boot from another server, and you can fdisk/format/install your local hard drive. However, before you do this, you should first flash the most recent firmware image. E-mail me privately if you need more help.

    p.s. Anyone moderating this thread offtopic - you do know that the Netwinder is a StrongARM/Linux computer, right???
  • The problem is, unless you're building in *really* huge quantities (10k+) you'll find that making a StrongARM based desktop machine costs more than a more powerful Celeron/K6/whatever machine. One-off, the SA1100 at 220Mhz is more expensive than a K6-2/500Mhz. Ok, it has a lot of on-board I/O and uses no power at all, but these aren't compelling reasons to use the ARM in a system with a mains cable attached!

    The HP Jornada 820 has a SA1100 in it too, but noone has tried getting linux on this as far as I know. It'll run for 10+ hours whilst powering a colour LCD too.

    (we use the SA1100 in the empeg in-dash MP3 player - which runs linux too and you can make your own apps for it)
  • (cough)

    SA1100, Linux, MP3, ethernet, USB, up to 64Gb internally, voice recognition, graphic screen, 4ch out with parametric eq, etc etc.

    (from empeg ;) )
  • The main problem is 4xUSB - the SA11[01]0 has a companion chip with USB host, the SA11[01]1. Only a single one, you'd then need a built in hub to give you more ports.

    Multiple ethernet isn't hard either, but remember that the SA11[01]0 has *no external DMA* and so everything is done with programmed I/O. Systems based on the SA110, like the Netwinder, have a PCI bus and so you can get DMA to peripherals.

  • Netbooting is important why? I doubt there is any need to do anything like that because hardware dosn't cost your firstborn anymore

    Even if hardware was free, netbooting would still be important. It turns out that if you run a lab of say, 50 computers of the same spec, Netbooting is great. The reason being you can change/alter the OS and all computers will change. You have just saved some serious time.

  • AMP has one [] too. Small, low power, PC-104, lots of controllers built in (VGA, LCD, IDE, serial, floppy, keyboard, mouse, etc) and even onboard 10/100 ethernet. Since it's PC-104, it's trivial to add on a decent sound card [], or GPS, or anything else anyone sells.

  • Netbooting is still important. If I want a quiet machine hooked to my stereo to play MP3s netbooting would let me avoid a hard drive (assuming I fetch the MP3s over the net, which is more then fast enough). Using a StrongARM, or other low power CPU would let me avoid the need for a CPU fan as well, so no moving noisy parts at all.

    Netbooting is also useful if you are bringing up a new system. To be useful the new system will need networking (even if only to get new boot images). A netbooted system won't need the disk drivers to work right away. Or the console drivers. Or anything but the ethernet (or a serial driver and PPP...).

    Netbooting is useful for field upgrades as well. Simpler then getting a floppy or CD in the machine if it isn't anywhere near you (or other people!). I have lots of computers I do work on that are nowhere near me (some 30 miles away, some 3000). Many of them are in unmaned locations.

    Netbooting is useful as a last resort on a machine that has blown it's drive and is nowhere near people that can fix it, at least if the image can be re-written, or if the system can really be used diskless (like it has blown a boot but not data disk, or is doing CPU bound tasks like playing part of a render farm). To be honest I havn't had this happen in the last 10 years. But it could happen.

    Lastly, look at the i-opener. Sure it has 16M of FLASH, but you don't want to write that very offen. Unless you cram a hard drive into it you'll alsmot certonally use the 16M of FLASH as a glorifyed bootloader, NFS mounting the bulk of your system. Possabbably even /. Sure you could use a USB Zip (or Orb) drive, but that'll be as slow as NFS over USB ethernet anyway (well caching works somewhat better, unless you use NQNFS, or CODA, or RVD, but still...).

    So while netbooting isn't as useful as it was thought to be 10 years ago (and to be honest it was overhyped then!), it is really really valuable in some situations.

  • This is a bit off topic, but I've got a Corel Netwinder and I was wondering how to install a new distribution. It's got RedHat 4.2 right now and I want to install Debian 2.2 instead. Problem is, it does not have a cd-rom or floppy, so the only way you can boot it is off the internal HD. That makes the installation kinda difficult...

    Any ideas?

  • From the FAQ: LART stands for Linux Advanced Radio Terminal.

    Funny, I thought it was 'Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool'... ;)

    Your Working Boy,
  • No apps? It has BOTH of them, vi and perl. What else do you use?
  • Do you know how the AMP's ThinARM compares to the StrongARM? I noticed that the ThinARM only runs at 56 MHz, compared to the StrongARM's 200 MHz...

  • Netbooting is a significant issue in an institutional environment. In the school district I work for, which is underfunded like every other school district, we have upwards of 3000 computers, which we replace at a rate of 20% per year. 600 computers at $100 per hard drive is $60,000, which ain't chickenfeed at this level. Plus, being able to serve the OS and applications over our high-speed internal network substantially cuts tech support and administration costs.
  • Sounds nifty, although I'd be hard pressed to fit everything I'd want on a laptop onto that thing.... maybe if it had 64 megs of flash...

  • Doesn't LART stand for Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool?

    Usually when printed on a blunt object . . .

  • This sounded like something really cool to get, if for no other reason then to have it.

    But, they don't sell them =( Maybe someone will pick up the ball and make them?
  • I was actually thinking of a car-based MP3 player.. Shove a small HDD (a gig or two) on that puppy, get a headphone jack to tape adapter, and you're rolling with hours and hours of cd quality music! With a little inginuity, I bet I could plug that thing right into the car battery too!
    I bet the sucker would be *cheap* too! :)

  • Speaking of LART and it's original Usenrt meaning, I wonder if it is possible to put a LART function in the slashcode (SlashLART??), and cut down on the Hot Grits and Naked and petrified posts? But then again it would probably just be abused, as I just had moderator access and spent all my points moderating up posts that were moderated down by people with no sense of humor. *Sigh*
  • Well, I could see you making a LART into a'd just need to add a sturdy aluminum case (spikes optional) and a carrying lanyard that would double as a morningstar-style thingie to swing it around your head with...
  • Forget zip disks. They draw way to much power and are way to delicate. Use Compactflash cards. You can jumper them and they behave just like an IDE HD so you can connect them to the IDE interface on the doughter board. You can get them up to 192 Mbytes now. No moving parts to wear out. No heads to crash. Dust has no effect on them. They may cost more per MB, but they are so much more robust and draw so much less power.

    As for adding a pair of DACs. It shouldn't be all that hard. I'd recomend looking at using a FPGA to implement DMA transfer and addressing for the DACs. They could be put on their own card along with a headphone amplifyer circuit.

  • Yah, if you were able to buy one, you could put your time in just designing the perfect form factor for it. TNG-style tricorder, anyone? :-)
  • Disclaimer: I've never done this, I'm basing this info on my Red Hat Linux disk, and yes this is indeed off topic but this might work for you.

    I assume that this computer is connected to a LAN which contains a conventional computer.

    Over the network, copy the boot floppy files to a suitable, ideally free partition on your hard disk. Make an entry in LILO to boot using the kernel (in my case called vmlinuz) and the ram disk on that partition and run lilo; reboot, select the new entry...if it actually works, then, as they say, Bob's your Uncle! Select an installation method like ftp/http/nfs which can be done with the CD in another computer.

    I am interested in how this will/won't work; feel free to email me if you want to try this and need some more help.
  • Check out the Psion Series 7 [] or Netbook [] (The Netbook is, AFAIK, pretty much just a slightly faster Series 7 with a customisable Flash Card ROM for the OS and business-specific apps instead of the standard EPOC32 applications ROM.)

    Netbook: 190MHz StrongARM with 32/64MByte RAM...
    Series 7: 133 MHz StrongARM with 16/32 MByte RAM..

    Personally, I have a Series 5 mx, that's a 16-greyscale model with a 36MHz ARM chip and 16Mbyte RAM. Runs off two AA batteries (and, with my usage patterns, these last weeks.)

  • OK, I'm sorry if I misinterpret your statement.. But it seems to me like you're saying that a PC is a thing of power. You have your fixed disks that you can modify the data on, as opposed to this little Thin Machine that gets all it's data read-only from a main system somewhere.

    Well, you're right. Mostly. A PC is a good thing. But let's face it, a modern PC has more power and more hassles then a lot of situations need. Say you need to set up a lot of cheap kiosks? Read the Long Story secion at LTSP [], it's a very good example of why those 'powerful PCs' just don't suit the purpose sometimes.

    Maybe you ARE the sysadmin and you don't want all your lusers to have huge amounts of power on their systems. Say at a school. Most High School students (not the good geeks, the kiddies) will take your systems and do their damndnest to destroy them. Don't give them that option, use thin clients. Have control, have every system cheap and easy to diagnose.

    Or maybe you just want to get on the 'net? That's good. You just either need to put up with the fairly easy-to-use-but-unstable Win9x with it's useless Hardware Wizards and Paperclips, or learn Linux (no easy feat). You know something, neither of those options suit some people. Embedded systems are simple. They can't be fscked with by the user that greatly.

    And as for your very weak argument on a price point, look at the i-opener. Sure, it's being sold at a LOSS, but it's cheap as dirt. x86 may not be the ideal embedded system, but it works. And other archs aren't as obscure as you make them out to be. That's what this article is all about, the increased availability of other archs.
  • by Tarnar ( 20289 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @02:35PM (#1133933) Homepage easy way to make an embedded-ish system is with Boot ROM's on your ethernet card! NFS your root FS, get your kernel over the network.

    Read up on the Linux Terminal Server Project []. It's good stuff.
  • by skip277 ( 24541 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @02:40PM (#1133934) Homepage
    And here I thought a LART was a Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool. Doh!

  • It might be possible to *run* Quake on a StrongArm, but I don't think you'd actually want to *play* it. If I'm remembering correctly, the StrongArm has no floating point unit. All floating poing calculations are done in software. Probably not going to get a very high frame rate on something like that. :^)
    "The people. Could you patent the sun?"
  • If I want a quiet machine hooked to my stereo to play MP3s netbooting would let me avoid a hard drive

    I'm running a P133 as just such a machine now. Originally it had a hard disk in it but I copied everything from it (cp -avx :) to an nfs server and made an nfsroot boot disk (linux/Documentation/nfsroot.txt has all the info you'll need on this).

    It loads LILO and the kernel from floppy, but after that there's no moving parts (the P133 doesn't need a cpu fan, only a large sink, and I've ripped out the power supply fan). I suppose I could write a PROM chips that loads the kernel via TFTP or something (etherboot would do this), but I don't have any of the equipment to do that yet.

    BTW, packard bell desktop machines can actually look pretty cool if you take all the plastic off, paint the metal casing jet black, and screw a carefully sized (black painted) metal sheet to the front. Maybe not as cool as jet-black painted Mac SE/30's running Debian, but close :)

  • Goodness what an uncivil bunch of replies you have recieved.

    You should check out the debian-arm [] mailing list over at You will find several posts from me describing various versions of the Debian installation code for the potato release on Netwinders. It works quite well. Feel free to email me with specific questions, I'm sure you can figure out my e-mail address from my user record.
  • Isn't a LART a Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool? i've already got one of those! It's about a meter long and some (confused) people like to call it a "baseball bat".

  • by Yumpee ( 32901 ) <> on Thursday April 13, 2000 @04:17PM (#1133939) Homepage
    If Linux powers LARTs, does FreeBSD power FARTs?

  • What do you think the box is?
  • Yopy []. For sale in a little over two months.
  • It can be overcome pretty well by booting from flash memory. That's what the empeg [] does; it can boot in about 8 seconds, maybe less.

    MP3 decoding can be done with a SA-1100 CPU in anywhere from 24-43% of real time, depending on the decoder. In fact I am working on such a decoder [].


  • A coupple of years ago, i remember reading here about a project to build a strong-arm system on a PCI card. Each card would have up to 8 cpu's.
    The idea was to build a cheap multiple-node cluster: fit 4 of these cards on a pc and you would have a 32-cpu machine with pci-bandwith comunications....

    Whatever happened to this project?

    Yes, I know I ramble and my spelling isn't quite up to scratch. If you wish to complain,
  • the RTlinux project seems to be built for it. also some companies have released embedded linux stuff (including distros) which they bundle with boards. theres also cygnus's ecos which is a gpled embedded os with a smaller footprint than linux.
  • I'm looking to build a cheap little Internet appliance that will connect to my DSL modem. I'll run Apache and use it as a gateway. I want something small and quiet. I'm currently holding out for FlexATX Intel box when I can buy a generic case about the size of an IPaq. StrongArm would be better because it will run 24x7. Here's what I'd like. No PS/2, Parallel or Serial ports 4 USB ports. Very quiet and very small. I could live without PCI but I need two ethernet ports. Getting dual ethernet is the big problem. Has anyone done this with a StrongArm or Intel? The NetWinder is about right but it is expensive for what you get, IMHO.
  • That's a good tip. My only problem with solder paste is that it is expensive and it doesn't keep for very long. It gets expensive if you are only building 1 or 2 prototypes.

  • by tdrury ( 49462 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @05:58PM (#1133947) Homepage
    I had to build an embedded system about three years back. Our only constaints were 3" by 4", components on 1 side only, and very low power. The low power contraint killed everyone but the StrongArm. At 200MHz it didn't need a heatsink and didn't even get warm to the touch. It's core runs at 1.5 volts. It's very easy to hook peripherals up. It has serial ports (and I think USB), general purpose I/O ports, LCD port, and could take either static or dynamic ram. You had to load 3 or so registers to configure the memory waitstates, etc.

    I had been dreaming of building a new Linux-based version myself, but never had the time. For those of you thinking about building your own, think again. The StrongArm's pins are .05" pitch apart. I was able to do it, but it's very hard and we had a $3000 solder station. Hint: you can't help but put too much solder on and bridge pins. Just heat them all up with the iron and suck off the excess with solder wick. Use lots of flux too.

    Oh, debugging the thing is a bitch. It has a nice JTAG port, but sometimes you just have to use a logic analyzer. haahahaha - with a cache, out-of-sequence execution, and jump instructions embedded in the machine code, it's a nightmare. Luckily the thing is so easy to configure you shouldn't have to resort to that too much. Pray you don't.

    Now I write Java code. Sigh - I want to build hardware again...

  • From the FAQ: LART stands for Linux Advanced Radio Terminal.

    Well, it's a darn good thing that Linus didn't name the OS after his country, Finland. "Finux" would be a terribly unfortunate name when it came to the LART.

  • If I'm not mistaken, the cpu only uses less then 1/4 of the power of the computer. Most of it is used by the screen, and a good chunk by the hard drives/cdroms.
    So, a less power hungery cpu will help, but not as much as you seem to think..
  • What is a standard desktop computer? That's one question, but actually I have planned to design this kind of desktop computer for some time now. I haven't yet started to do any actual desing work but I have thinked about it while doing some work with embedded systems.

    One of the main questions is how much computation power average desktop computer user really needs? Due the fact, these processors lack on power compared on common processors used in today's desktops, but how much is really needed for running applications needed in every day use of the desktop computer?

    Ofcource this isn't only question that remains (there is at leas issue about the availability of these processors for prototyping), but if computation power need can be satisfied by some processor like this (ARM), I can't see reason why not to implement one.
  • Now we can all screw together our i-opener and toss them back to Netpliance and ask for our money back.
  • Following a link to a link to a link, the box is 650 quid, which is over a grand US. Which means that you just paid over a grand for a 64 mb ramm, 5.7 gig drive, cd rom, floppy system. Sooooo not worth it. For 1k these days you are looking at some serious CPU horsepower on an Intel platform, because since this thang is in an ATX case, it doesn't over anything sizewise over Wintel hardware.

  • Yea, but he said *cheap*. Last time I checked the empeg car player was running @ ~$1000US. Not in my budget... :(

  • Lets not be hasty and assume that "build your own" involves plugging a coulple of boards together and installing some software... The necessary drawings are available, and while the components and tools are not sitting in most people's basements, the kind of person likely to build one of these can probably get a hold of some.
  • goto and search under console and jpeg, there are a variety of programs that do it, but i dont remember the names and im too lazy to go look myself.

    "The importance of using technology in the right way has never been more clear." []
  • "distribution"? Not really. However, there are a number of linux kernel versions designed or well suited for embeded use -- RT Linux, uClinux, ELKS, etc.

    The standard linux kernel is a great deal larger than OSes specifically designed for embeded processing -- VxWorks, OS-9, QNX, RTEMS, etc. Most embeded systems don't have a need for heavy security models -- the concept of a "user", for example, is unnecessary for a jet dying controll processor. HOWEVER, linux provides support for a wider range of devices and services.

    And, of course, Linux is free. This part makes it very attractive to Universities and, by extention, the companies hiring those students experienced with Linux.

    [I've used all of the OSes mentioned here... they are all equally easy to use (for me anyway.) It took some adjustment to get used to "not writing programs" (everything is a subroutine) in VxWorks. I really like the robustness and UNIX-ish-ness of OS-9 -- the guys who designed OS-9 (~20 years ago) are freakin' geniuses!]
  • Generally speaking, x86 is only arch that will not netboot out of the box. Sun, DEC, IBM, etc, all netboot with no more effort than perhaps a BIOS tweak. ---gross oversimplification, I know.
  • by mattr ( 78516 ) <.mattr. .at.> on Thursday April 13, 2000 @09:59PM (#1133958) Homepage Journal
    I submitted a story to Slashdot yesterday (declined) about Sony's announcement of peripherals tacked on to the end of Memory Sticks like thin Pez heads. On TV in Tokyo they showed last night a teeny little GPS antenna the size of your pinky fingernail, clock, ccd camera, and microphone, all in the same form factor. Apparently this Memory Stick Duo series is going to provide a common serial interface across widely different consumer items, from an Aibo to a camera, to headphones, to your wristwatch, they said. Maybe a firewire or infrared connection will make networking easier..
  • And, you can always use fixed-point arithmetic (an often overlooked technique

    Indeed. I believe some versions of Quake for ARM processors have indeed been optimised this way. In a 3D game you're probably always going to need a bit of FP though.

    My own personal experience - nothing to do with Quake and quite OT - is that floating point is very often overused. Some programmers seem to use it for any numeric variable, even if that variable will always have an integer value. The performance impact is lessened by newer processors with extremely good floating-point performance, but integer-only CPUs like the SA-110 are then screwed when the software is ported.

    I prefer using integer and fixed-point arithmetic whenever possible because it's more deterministic; you don't have to worry about loss of precision on some platforms, or compares that aren't, or infinities and NaNs. But then that may just be a personal fetish based on spending years programming assembler on processors without FP. The StrongARM included.

    Anyway. I'm rambling now, so I'll stop.

    This comment was brought to you by And Clover.
  • If I'm remembering correctly, the StrongArm has no floating point unit. All floating poing calculations are done in software. Probably not going to get a very high frame rate on something like that. :^)

    Quite so. It's not too bad - I've played Quake through a couple of times on the Acorn Risc PC, which uses a similarly specced StrongARM, and it's playable, as long as resolution is kept fairly low. Quake II, III is out of the question.

    There are ARM designs with FP, though...

    This comment was brought to you by And Clover.
  • Erm - try about 40 - 50% of the worlds mobile phones? Is that consumer enough for you?
  • Dude, I saw that EXACT thing. Hmmm... Intentional?
  • Non-clock-doubled 486 CPUs (25 MHz and 33 MHz parts) will run fine without a fan or a heat sink. Clock-doubled 486 (DX/2) CPUs will run fine with just a heat sink if your case has proper airflow. 5V DX/4 CPUs probably will need a fan. I've run them with just a heat sink, but YMMV. Cyrix CPUs will definitely need one. AMD's 5x86 CPUs run cool enough with just a heat sink as long as, again, you have a case with decent airflow.

    Anything faster than a 66 MHz DX/2 is most likely overkill for a firewall/NAT box anyway.
  • having a computer withotu fixed disks or the like is a bad thing engineers have been working hard getting more power in an individual's hands and there are the ungrateful few who want said power to be taken away so they can rule

    How are you supposed to justify doing something like this? How the hell do you get all these obscure parts? Who would sell you such things? And most likely for a price far and above what an acrtual manufacturer could easily do.
    Plus aren't almost all other processors not terribly common? When was the last time they had a desktop system that was selling in any major computer store with a strongarm processor in it?
  • A distribution is unlikely because no one really uses embedded apps on a daily basis except developers. The reason distributions liek Red Hat actually work is because of a large base of normal users who actually use the stuff and desire changes and like to happen.
    The most I have seen in this regard are usally projects that almost never make it at all and that are extremely obselete.
  • then explain why more consumer level devices are not using them? And why the acorn died. Also explain why Intel and AMD (both American companies) are controlling the computer market with some of the fastest microprocessors in the world.
  • Netbooting is important why? I doubt there is any need to do anything like that because hardware dosn't cost your firstborn anymore. Realistically most machines have access to at least enough RAM and hd space that they can easily boot on their own. After the machine has booted the you can monkey around with many different network options.
    Plus most of those computers cost a pretty penny and can't be had in most locations easily or without significant hassles.
    Also I would see the only reason that would happen would be as a failover mechanism in case the machine looses say the bootloader on the hard drive.
  • One of my main problems and ideas that I have with processors like these that seem to be largely geared to "low power" systems and that are "cheap" (these are both relative words) never seem to make it into standard desktop computers, Crusoe and this are both working on "embedded systems " and "portable devices". Why hasn't anyone created a real sit down and run linux computer with one of these? Is there any problem with actually doing this? Maybe I just dont' get it. If it's cheap, and if' it's more efficient then why don't they have them in computers that average people would be using?
  • This should be obvious to even the most dimwitted individual who holds a degree in advanced hyperbolic topology.

  • What a pigfaced moron you are. I'm going to hunt you down and make you sorry that your mother ever spread her legs to your father, even though the best part of you ran down her thigh after the deed was done. I'm going to peel off your fingernails with a rusty pair of pliers, then stick them in your eyes. I'm going to anally violate your small child like I'm Jon Katz. You won't be able to see her bloody asshole, on account of the fingernails stuck in your eyes, but the screams of pain and humilation will be enough to drive you insane.

    OK, lets see if I understand this correctly. Discussing Netwinder, which uses Linux and StrongARM, on a message board about Linux and StrongARM is offtopic, but threats of torture and rape are welcome and appropriate. Of course! Why didn't I think of that??

    With so much garbage like this showing up on Slashdot, I am surprised that Rob doesn't resort to censorship. I sure as hell would. If I had my way, your post would be deleted and your IP would be permanently banned.

    All the guy did was ask a fucking question. While in the strictest sense, it was offtopic, it was no more offtopic that 85% of what appears on Slashdot. I thought it was interesting, and wanted to see what people had to say about it. I certainly didn't want to read about raping small children while they scream in pain.

    It is comforting to know that your mother probably came in 15 minutes after you posted and made you shut off your computer and go to bed, because tomorrow's a school day.

    Rot in hell,


    Stephen C. VanDahm
  • I thought I saw a reference to interupt 10,5 in there somewhere was this for the keyboard?
  • by B1ood ( 89212 )
    The important question is will it play Quake. With something that can live off of a battery and fairly portable, I could probably use that during class.


  • I'm not all that sure if this would help, for any given embedded application the chances are much customization will need to be done including writing kernel code to drive any custom hardware included and to strip out everything that is not needed.
  • With it's cut down kernel and OS in silicon it probably boots into linux quicker than my PII.
  • by JamesSharman ( 91225 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @02:38PM (#1133975)
    I found this to be really impressive, with bulk purchasing the potential cost of this type of circuit is very low. I'm really hoping that hack's like this will show the potential for cheap processors like the strongArm and open source software like Linux to be a serious contentedness for embedded applications where a little more beef is required.

    I'm seriously considering having a crack at building one of these although I haven't done a whole lot of surface mount soldering, perhaps someone will start selling these babys.
  • I've been looking at the Linux Router Project [] for a home firewall/NAT box. One page or another that I've come across suggests that you can ditch the fan when you remove the disk drive from an old '486 system; LRP boots off a floppy and runs off a RAM disk. Hmm. It would be nice if anyone could verify that it's possible to run a '486 w/o a fan. I have run such boxes for long periods with the cover off, preventing the fan from causing any significant.airflow over the CPU or other components.
  • I think it's because processors intended for portable devices sacrifice performance for the sake of low power use (or some other feature beneficial to portable systems). In a desktop system, power use and temperature aren't really important, so it doesn't make sense to sacrifice performance for the sake of power consumption. Then again, I'm no expert on embedded systems, so I may be mistaken.
  • The Microdrive holds 340 MB in a Compactflash-II type slot the size of a quarter.

    I've seen a couple handhelds out that support it, although I'm not sure if the Jornada is one of them.

  • How hard would it be to grab one of these bad-boys, add a couple of DACs, and then connect it to a zip drive (via rs232?)... PLaying Mp3s in a portable manner using Zip disks is my life long ambition :)

  • Entry-level yet affordable processor, 32MB RAM, Disk-On-Chip (albeit only 4MB)... sounds like an i-opener project, minus the display. =)

    Can you tell I'm excited I got mine today?
  • This reminds me, since I'm not up on this stuff, are there standard embedded linux distributions? I mean a distribution of linux specifically for embedded applications that is intended for developers and manufacturers to use as a foundation to build upon? Are there APIs for this? I'm not doing a paper or anything (as I've seen some of the recent posts from students posting requests for their papers), I'm just curious, since Linux seems like a great choice for embedded apps from the examples that we've seen so far.
  • [Moderators, prepare your offtopic flags]

    I've been trying to figure out how to build a silent (read: convection cooled) Linux firewall/router to serve my cable modem connection to my other machines. I'd like to do it with a StrongARM part, but I can't seem to find a solution with a reasonable price (sub $500 total).

    I've looked at the Chalice CATS [], which could definitely do the job, but is more than $500 just for the board. LART looks pretty cool, but seems to have support for only one ethernet adapter at this time (and I have no idea how much it would actually cost). The NetWinder [] is also very cool, but it starts at around $1400 (and I've heard that they are not exactly silent). I've seen some info on machines from Acorn which might fit the bill, but I haven't been able to get their website [] to load.

    Does anybody out there know of a low-cost StrongARM device which can run Linux and can support an IDE drive and two ethernet adapters?

    Yes, I've looked at the fixed purpose firrewall boxes that do this, but I work for a large company with a constantly in-flux Intranet tunneling strategy, so I want enough control of my firewall to make sure I can keep up with the protocol du jour. I've also considered doing an insane i-opener hack (one USB ethernet adapter, one parallel port ethernet adapter), although I might as well just pick up a cheap box with a socket 7 motherboard and slap a Winchip in there myself to get the low power consumption. I'd have to take some other steps [] to quiet such a box, but it may be the best solution in my price range. Still, I think a StongARM solution would be much cooler.

  • What are you talking about?

    Here is a quote from the LART FAQ,

    Do you sell LARTs?
    We are very sorry, but we don't sell LARTs. We are a university, and the LART is just a research tool. We have no plans (read: no time) to make the LART commercially available ourselves. However, all CAD files are available, so if you would like to produce LARTs yourself (and possibly sell them), feel free. If you do decide to produce LARTs commercially, drop us a line so we can link to you.

    What are the licensing conditions for LART?

    All CAD files required for building LART are available under the closest we could get to an Open/Free Hardware License (see the LICENSE file). All software and kernel patches are released under the GNU GPL.

    So you are definitely allowed to build your own.
  • The URL is []. They've got the kernel working and basic apps, and touchscreen support, but it's still pretty worthless. No apps.
  • by pouwelse ( 118316 ) on Friday April 14, 2000 @12:11AM (#1133985) Homepage
    As the developers of the LART board we are impressed with your intrest, thanx.

    MP3, Quake, LCD are ALL planned for the LART future. Here at the university we have permission to build the ultimate Linux wearable and get paid with a Ph.D. for it.
    Within 1 month we hope to have MP3s playing to the speakers. We estimate that with advanced techniques such as voltage scaling (I wrote the driver and will release it soon) the power consumption will be about 300 mW. With some good bateries you will get a few hours of music out of a LART.

    Quake is a different story, as said 3D stuff is heavy on the processor, but more importantly a good color LCD is very expernsive in terms of power. We have a 6 W color LCD...

    We estimate that a single LART can be equiped with a wireless link of 5 Mbps using advanced stuff like OFDM software radio. We are building a radio frontend for it now.

    If you want to build your own LART, read the mailinglist. Building is possible, but getting the parts is next to impossible.

    Just my 5 eurocents, Johan.

  • what norm do you live in?

    Why do you think XWindows was written like that?
  • As a hardware buff, I really like the sound of an Open Source hardware/software combo! This is a great project, and a good example of what can be accomplished, if you put your mind to subverting the norm. Great work!

  • "Mista, five dolla, sucky sucky?"

    It isn't good practice to quote your mother without giving her proper credit. I hear she takes VISA now...

  • How exactly am I supposed to inflict pain with this device?
  • I sure they were manufacturing these themselves and selling them. I'd buy one.

    What I'd like even more, is a StrongArm based notebook. I mean, when people get so excited about the Transmeta chip, not for it's code morphing, but for it's ultra-low power features. I got excited about it too -- I'd love to have a laptop which ran for 8 hours+. But why doesn't someone make a StrongArm based notebook? I mean, it consumes even less power -- and it could probably go for even longer than 8 hours.

    You could run Linux on it. X, GNOME/KDE, the whole bag -- all in a package which is cheaper and more energy effecient than a conventional x86 laptop, and even a Transmeta-based notebook.

    Even better, Intel just demoed (I think) 1 GHz StrongArm chips. How incredible would one of those in a notebook be? Wouldn't be as fast as a 1GHz Athlon/PIII, but it'd sure be fast, and with phenomonal battery life.

    Please, someone make a StrongArm based notebook!
  • HP has made one already. It's the Jornada 820. It has a "High-performance 32-bit StrongArm RISC CPU running at 190MHz".
    Have a look at it here [].
  • That's what we officially call it anyway; as with all four-letter acronyms, it is just possible that LART is overloaded. they want to IMPLY the regular meaning of LART, but not REALLY call it that
  • you'll alsmot certonally use the 16M of FLASH as a glorifyed bootloader, NFS mounting the bulk of your system. Possabbably even /.

    Say, I didn't know that you could NFS mount Slashdot. Cool!

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • zgv is nice for this
    get it from debian (svgalib!)
  • Some of the delays are probably caused by the sale of StrongARM to Intel from Digital. But Intel has been promising the SA-2 core for a long time. Originally the promise was 600 MHz at around 500mW in 0.18 micron, but a recent EE Times story said now they're shooting for 1 GHz at the same power consumption.
  • You mean like one of these []? It's a little underpowered, but they claim 15 hours of battery life.
  • Refrigeration helps. I was able to use a small tube of paste for 2 years that way. You just have to be careful that it doesnt freeze.
  • There is a technique to solder such tiny pins using a conventional soldering iron (Weller WTCPN/T). I had to solder a chip with such a fine pin width several years ago. I used the smallest possible tip, and the finest solder paste available. I covered the tips of the pins with a fine coating of solder paste, and dabbed a bit on the edges of the surface mount pads. I used the soldering tip to depress the pin in slightly (towards the body of the chip), and when it melted, I retracted the solder tip quickly. The solder stayed molten until approx. 0.5 seconds after I retracted the solder tip. I assembled 10 prototypes this way. It worked like a charm :)
  • After looking at the gerber files, I would highly doubt that this is a project for the average, or above average do it yourselfer. It isnt easy to get a *6* layer prototype Printed Circuit board fabbed economically. Until someone out there comes out with a variant of this project with a 2-4 layer board, its out of our reach.....
  • As if! I've already ripped that site. Send me some new hardcore animal sex.
  • OK, right, this must be why I haven't experienced a power outage in the UK in the last decade, while after living in California for 6 months I've experienced one every 6 weeks.

    The phone lines are 30dB noisier too. And you don't want to get me started on NTSC!

    Not to mention that the very first RISC microcomputer, the Acorn Archimedes, was British - the StrongARM evolved from that CPU, and indeed I seem to remember you guys were using 286s or Mac Classics at the time.

    Meanwhile, I'll take the comparison to Asian products as a national compliment, since Japanese consumer goods are far superior to anything else on the planet.

    Earth, that is ... do you know it?

  • there is a program called fbi that does a pretty good job. You need to be using framebuffer, but that is set up automagiclly with slack 7. Look for it on freshmeat.
  • That reminds me of this onHand PDA thing I saw, incase some of you don't know, it is a small device that fits on your wrist as a watch, and it is a PDA, now with running Linux could be great, the onHand runs on Windows CE i believe. No matter what the OS though, a watch computer seems too cool, so I think I'm going to definitely pick one up.

    They run for $299 check it out here []

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser