[conspire] A NetWinder for Daniel
daniel at gimpelevich.san-francisco.ca.us
Sun Feb 5 00:50:25 PST 2006
I was more curious about the Cobalt Qube, but the NetWinder is
interesting, too. IIRC, the voltage on the Qube's power supply would trail
off. I don't remember what was wrong with the NetWinder. What was it? If
anyone else would be interested in this machine, they're still welcome to
On Sat, 04 Feb 2006 22:37:20 -0800, Rick Moen wrote:
> Daniel, Cheryl and I managed to get the NetWinder fixed, so it's up and
> running again for the first time in five years -- and I remember you
> being interested in adopting it. It's yours!
> Some notes:
> Corel Computer Corp. NetWinder 275 DM
> Toshiba MK3205MAV 3GB PATA ("IDE") hard drive
> Motherboard based on Intel "FootBridge" 21285 ARM/PCI controller chip
> Motherboard version is 5.2 (as shown by "Board Rev 5255" in /proc/cpuinfo
> Intel/DEC SA-110 StrongARM 275 MHz CPU
> 64 MB RAM (single 32bit SODIMM)
> 1MB flash memory
> WinBond 553 PATA ("IDE") chip
> WinBond 940 (NE2000-compatible) 10Mbps ethernet interface eth0
> DEC 21143 "Tulip" 10/100 Mbps ethernet interface eth1
> IrDA port
> 2 PS2 ports driven by Winbond '977 SuperIO
> 9-pin RS232C serial port driven by Winbond '977 SuperIO
> EPP/ECP port driven by Winbond '977 SuperIO
> IGS Cyberpro 2010 Video Controller, 2 MB
> WinBond 9660 TV Encoder composite video in/out and video CODEC
> Philips 7111 video capture
> Rockwell WaveArtist sound chip (SoundBlaster compatible)
> Supported by Debian sarge:
> Supported by the official "DM" Red Hat distribution:
> I suspect that "DM" is reference to the developer-oriented NetWinder
> model. In any event, the distribution is or was maintained by someone
> named Andrew E. Mileski.
> System is currently loaded with NetWinder DM version 2.1 build 12 (RH 5.1).
> (Version 3.1 build 15 dated 2000-01-24 is the latest, and is RH 6.1,
> with a 2.0.35 kernel.)
> ftp.netwinder.org is gone, but there are mirrors (e.g., for firmware):
> "NeTTrom" Firmware version 2.3.3 dated 2000-08-01 is the latest.
> Supports up to 256MB of RAM and hard disks over 30GB in size.
> Unit currently has version 2.0.4.
>  "DM" stood for Developer Machine, and these were offered for US
> $868, new. Press release: http://lars.nocrew.org/computers/netwinder.htm
>  This is a laptop-type drive. After upgrading the motherboard BIOS,
> you will be able to use arbitrarily large replacements.
>  It's pretty zippy for a 1998-era embedded CPU -- and even though my
> old throwaway 32MB USB flash drive used the same damned chip for
> error-correction. However, it's important to realise that there is no
> floating point unit. FPU functionality is fully emulated in software,
> but is very slow.
>  This, not the absence if FPU, is the real Achilles heel of the
> NetWinder: At one time, it was possible to buy a replacement 256MB
> 32-bit SODIMM to use in the motherboard's single SODIMM slot: These
> are no longer in stock anywhere; you'd be really lucky to find a 128MB
> 32-bit SODIMM. All current SODIMMs are 64 bits wide, not 32. In
> theory, you might be able to use a 512MB 64-bit SODIMM in hopes that the
> NetWinder will decode it as a 256MB module. People have reported
> success with the same trick using 256MB 64-bit SODIMMs. However,
> there's no guarantee that the SODIMM or motherboard won't be destroyed
> in the effort.
> There are details of possible sources for 128MB 32-bit SODIMMs in the
> NetWinder FAQ, off http://www.netwinder.org/. Also, this page details
> some hardware hacking that can turn a 64-bit SODIMM into a 32-bit one:
>  The reason for the very hefty video hardware lies in the bizarre
> origin of the NetWinder design: It was originally supposed to be a
> video conferencing system running Java, but the CPU was too anemic, so
> it was repurposed as a general-usage computer.
>  I strongly suspect that Debian is the only fully maintained
> distribution for ARM in 2006.
>  After being passed through several corporate sponsors, the NetWinder
> manufacturing plant was finally shut down for good in July 2001. It
> seems that pretty much all development for NetWinder ceased thereafter,
> except for Debian's.
> However, before resorting to a complete system rebuild, you might see
> what can be done within the existing RH-based framework, e.g., from
> packages and images on the mirror sites. I suspect the result will
> still be 2001-era, but I could be wrong.
> Before blowing away the existing build, so study it carefully, in any
> event. Among other special features, it has a bootable recovery partition.
>  NetWinders have a programmable ROM environment reminiscent of
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