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Handhelds Hardware Hacking Build

How Hackable Is The iPaq IA-1 Internet Appliance? 12

BenTheDewpendent writes: "I am considering buying a Compaq iPaq IA-1 Internet Appliance if it is hackable. The IA-1 is relatively cheap and doesn't seem to be too bad in spec. I was wondering if anyone knows if they are hackable or usable beyond their intended semi-lame designed purpose?" There's a short (and lukewarm) review at TechTV about this machine which lists decent specs but objects to a highish price for what it contains. If you have a bargain, though, it sounds fun. Anyone have a succesful experiment with one of these cute boxes?
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How Hackable Is The iPaq IA-1 Internet Appliance?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2001 @04:54AM (#73625)
    I have turned about 30 of them into web & file servers using NetBSD. I got a great deal on a large quantity (50 for $4500) It is a great platform
  • The latest Inferno/Plan 9 newsletter mentions a port of the Inferno operating system to the iPAQ []. If you pay for an Inferno subscription, then you can get the port `for free'. I believe that the source would be available to you.

    Vita Nuova was able to hack the iPAQ thoroughly; if you can't get the information that you want, you could use Inferno source code as documentation or the basis of your own hacks. If I wanted to set up a wireless mobile network with custom software on it, this would be the easiest prepackaged solution of which I know. (I would rather use Erlang than Limbo for a distributed system, but it would take effort to get it on an iPAQ.)

  • $90 each? Where? How? Who do I send the cheque to?

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  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Friday July 20, 2001 @09:15PM (#73628) Homepage
    I've got Linux on an IA-1. I started with Jailbait [], a 16MB flash-friendly Linux distro originally tossed together for the iOpener (I think).

    Jailbait assumes that it's booting from /dev/hdb. Step one is to change this to /dev/hdc, which is the external compact flash slot on the IA-1. Use a PCMCIA to CF adapter and a laptop to write the jailbait image, once you've modified it, to a 16MB (size is important here) flash card. Read the instructions on rebuilding the jailbait image that come with jailbait. Short story: untar the JB package, and use the included scripts to build the cramfs images. The tricky part is getting lilo to cooperate when moving the jailbait image from booting from /dev/hdb to /dev/hdc, and then to /dev/hda (the IA-1's internal flash).

    To get into the bios, which you'll need to do to set the thing to boot from the external flash slot, press the "compaq" key on the wireless keyboard during boot-up. Things are easier if you connect a real keyboard to the IA-1 using the USB ports on the back. However, having USB peripherals attached during boto seems to sometimes prevent Linux form booting properly -- lilo hangs. It's strange.

    The jailbait image uses cramfs for its filesystems, so to modify what's installed on the IA-1, you'll have to rebuild the flash image. Once you get Linux booting from the internal flash, you can mount an NFS fileserver over ethernet, using a USb-to-ethernet adapter, and just 'dd' the new filesystem images to their proper locations, then reboot. Don't use the Netgear adapter. It's crap. Get a DLink or other "pegasus" adapter. Set aside your hdc-bootable flash card. You'll need it when you do something stupid like disable all the ttys (voice of experience).

    I'll put up my images at

    Please don't ask for support with these, though. These images are rather hacked up versions of jailbait. I compiled my own kernel, whacked Netscape, added Skinux [] demo files, a modified boot logo, etc. They will be a place for you to start, though. You can get Linux onto the IA-1 using them, then replace my garbage with your garbage. :)

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  • cmon yall, the above is hella funny if you've ever seen the *BSD is dying posts.
  • did i say i was going to put linux on this? and so what if i was. like it matters to you and its better than many of the alternatives such as windows. what if i was planing on makeing it a standalone music player using the disk on chip for the os putting a larger harddrive for the tunes? or maybe a router, a digital picture frame, termial unit etc.... linux is a much better solutions to all those than and thing from Micro$oft. Linux isnt gonna die you moron it can't because its open source.
  • whats your problem? linux? why? or you just like to pick on the little guy? so they have problems what company hasnt or doesnt right now? the fate of your beloved microsoft is still haning in the balance with the US justice system...
  • by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Thursday July 19, 2001 @02:52PM (#73632) the message boards are a good source of info...
  • how did you change the bootlogo, and/or which bootlogo did you change? i know there's software to do it, but i haven't actually done it on any other machine yet (i've never been "blessed" with a machine that has this "feature").

    anyway, i'm still fighting with getting jailbait onto the damned machine... admittedly, i've been "at work" and watching movies during the 3 or 4 hours i've been playing with it.
  • . o O (this sign says "DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS", but they look so hungry...)

    haha, quoting linuxgruven stats as being key to linux is like saying that the little VAR down the way is key to Microsoft's success.

    Linuxgruven is/was/will always be a bunch of idiots, in what is common ly believed to be a training scam:
    (slashdot-only links, since they're pretty comprehensive of all previous allegations)

    I could continue, but i'll let you look it up. so strike the linuxgruven story off your FUD list, it's bad form.

    i suppose this is what i get for reading at threshold 0, eh?

  • i picked mine up from ubid, 89$ plus shipping. and none of that annoying MSN contract stuff. it was a refurb unit, though, and i think it has to do with the power connector (it seems exceptionally loose)

    doo doo... waits for the 2 minute limit... which apparently includes attempted posts that fell within the 2 minute limitation.
  • Hmmm to be honest, i dont really believe you, since you use almost the same text for your so called BSD / Linux deaths... go and lick Bills ass!

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.