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Tiny Linux Boxen

sengan posted more than 15 years ago | from the I'd-like-an-itsy dept.

Linux 61

nelsonrn writes "Two university groups are working on designs for tiny Linux boxen reminiscent of the Compaq Itsy: UNSW's Pocket Linux Embedded Box (PLEB), an Intel/ARM SA-1100 based box, and Ryerson's uClinux simm, a 1" tall Motorola/68K Dragonball-based Linux box on a simm. Both have serial ports and LCD interfaces, but the PLEB has IR and the uClinux simm has Ethernet. Both ports are booting on their respective development platforms. Coincidentally, both projects are currently laying out their boards in preparation for a run of prototypes." Update: 01/31 10:39 by S : In related news, Tarcus posted this ARM multiprocessing set of PCI cards manufactured by Chalice Technology which make for a cheap Beowulf cluster.

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Ryerson not affiliated with uClinux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027275)

umm, I don't think that Ryerson has anything to
do with the uClinux project other than the fact that it hosts their web site.

ryeham is Ryerson's HAM radio user group.

Oh, me so sorry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027276)

Me didn't realize! Slashdot is "news for TARCUS. stuff that matters for TARCUS!"

Me try to post more things that interesting to YOU in future!

ook ook

This random story selection stuff, 2nded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027277)

I'm sorry to have to agree 100%. /. used to
really good 6 months ago, now is getting
increasing rare to find a worthwhile article.
(but still I keep coming back just in case).
Maybe it suffers from it's own popularity. As
a case in point, removing Segan from the panel
might help a lot.

Off topic: IR Lan adapters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027278)

Could someone tell me if there are useable IR Lan
idapaters for Linux? And which ones? I looked at
the hardware list for the Linux IR project
and it looks like all of the LAN adapters are
iffy at best. Man, I would really like to be able
to network the machines in my apt. Running cable
is just out of the question tho. :(

Agree, Slashdot is getting boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027279)

I must agree, /. is getting more and more boring, too bad, it used to be interesting six months ago; I hardly read a story now, just the excerpts.


PDP-11 was first popular Unix box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027280)

Sorry to confuse this one with the facts.

A quick upgrade too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027281)

Imagine if one could write some Linux drivers (which should be too hard) to offload most of your processing to these boards. There's a quick upgrade for ANY PCI based system. An bitchin fast too.

"Boxen" IS stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027282)

Ehm, maybe it's just me, but if I hear "Boxen" I think about the loudspeakers of my hifi tower, e.g. "mit meinen neuen Boxen kann ich die ganze Nachbarschaft beschallen".

Using "Boxen" for a number of computer systems doesn't sound stupid to me, I just never heard it before. BTW, I am a native speaker.

The plural of VAX is VAXen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027283)

"DEC (that's Digital Equipment Corporation for you young'uns)".

No, that's "Compaq" for us youngins.

"the cat's pajamas"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027284)

is that a common idom?

Boxen? It's Boxes stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027285)

"I drove to work and rebooted all my NT boxes." It's called English. Deal with it. Quit trying to sound 3r33t. You probably say virii too don't you?

ChalTech StrongARM Board looks beautiful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027286)

What would be nice is shared memory across the
PCI card -- then you could have SMP across one
borad, and NUMA/ccNUMA across three or four.

ChalTech StrongARM Board looks beautiful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027287)

What you REALLY want, is a modified EGCS/make
combination so as to distribute compiler load
across 2 of these boards (i.e. 16 SA's),
giving each 64Mb to play with. That would
save a huge amount of time in an alpha-compiler

"Boxen" IS stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027288)

Whould you call several ox (a large cow-loke animal) oxes? Oxen is correct Queens's English.

Do you call many catus catuses?

This random story selection stuff, 2nded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027289)

Sengan's the best slashdot has. He tries to put a little bit of background into into his writeups, and he actually seems to know his stuff better than the other editors. Plus, he doesn't post messages about some 80s game for Atari being revived or something and then say "I don't know about you, but personally, I spent all day playing that game." or any of the other ditsy editorial comments you see here.

Yeah, ditsy. That's the only word I can use to describe some of what I see here. Like, oh my God!

lame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027290)

If you use latin words like virus then use the latin plural too.

But the Latin plural of "virus" is "viri," not "virii."


Giving CMDRTACO a blowjob helps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027291)

If you want to get something posted on Slashdot it helps to be buddy buddy with one of the Slashdot editors. Unless your bestest IRC pals with one of them, the chances of getting somehting posted on Slashdot is about zip.

Thats why we spend so much time reading about Rob's school schedule and commie editorials why everything should be free. At least they haven't harped on TCWWW in a while -- I think someone figured out why machines have names.

"Boxen" IS stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027292)

From Jargon File (4.0.0/24 July 1996) :

boxen /bok'sn/ /pl.n./ [by analogy with VAXen]
Fanciful plural of box often encountered in the phrase `Unix
boxen', used to describe commodity {Unix hardware. The
connotation is that any two Unix boxen are interchangeable.

In a world filled with communication problems, why create more with unnecessary jargon, especially considering the computing sphere is already over polluted with this type of language... geekdom should be about superiority in intelligence and knowledge.
It is a small intellect that feels the need to extend this superiority with unnecessary geekspeak.

Hot Damn!! =) $150US For The SIMM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027293)

What the hell is a PLEB?

Hot Damn!! =) $150US For The SIMM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027294)

How hard is it to follow the link?

[This is what happens when we let stupid people breed]

PLEB vs The SIMM Thingie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027295)

Hmm.. the problem with that PLEB stuff is that it
looks like someone's weekend science project --
not to mention that $380 is starting to get into
the PC104 price range and you can buy those
tomarrow (don't have to wait for the school to
spin off a company, people to graduate, etc). Sounds like these SIMM things have commerical backing and are ready to run. Not to mention that
they have ethernet on board which the PLEBs don't.
Don't care about the connectors, I'd rather design the packaging myself.


So am I.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027296)

Sheeps... I've spent the last 4 days looking around at parts and such on the net.. PC/104 looks like my best bet. Was gonna put up a site with HOWTOs and stuff :)

Basically, a 486/133 (maybe Penitum, depends on price and such) board, a sound board, text-to-speech, a Matrix Orbital LCD display, and a 4-25 key keypad (haven't decided yet) all run by a micro Linux installation. Probably solid-state storage... enough to hold a couple mp3s at least :)

Right now I'm still in 'planning'... but hopefully by the end of the year I'll have something.

Joe (forgot passwd)

another one (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027297)

Another project along those lines is at [] .

PLEB will also have ethernet etc.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027298)

With the pleb expansion slot aka PLEB-slot the pleb group may also add ethernet support, probably on a board that has several other features. Other than that pcmcia ethernet cards are the go.

DSP boards etc are also options, and anything that someone finds useful, they can build themselves.


Hot Damn!! =) $150US For The SIMM (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2027299)

I've got dozens of potential project ideas that
revolve around disposably cheap machines running
Linux. PC/104 looks great, but $600 for the CPU
alone isn't what I call cheap. At $150 a pop, that
simm computer (with ethernet!) is a steal!

I have visions of linux driven POS systems dancing
in my head.


Matrix Displays... (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027300)

Posted by QuantmJoe:

... don't take much CPU power. The display is similar to that of a graphing calculator, but smaller.. Like 20 chars by 4 chars. The only time it would take up CPU power would be when it's refreshed (which wouldn't be often if I'm playing music) or when an attached keypad is used (again, not often with music).

OS's for PLEB (1)

ashelton (826) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027301)

I think the lack of response is due to the fact that this sort of project has been frequently
discussed. Until one of these projects has a working, usable and available machine for public
consumption it is a fairly abstract/specialized interest.

btw. is anyone running linux on the palm? I know it's possible, but is it usable?

However, I must say that the conversations in this thread have been hilarious.
A bunch of people me-tooing and whinging about how cool slashdot used to be in
the `old' days...

btw^2. the first serious suggestion for this sort of thing I saw was
(of course it hasn't changed since that time :( I like his ideas for I/O though.

Those ARM SMP boards are cool. (1)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027302)

Hey, why hasn't everyone gone wild about those ARM boards? I want one very much. When it comes out, the price/performance it'll be possible to get for certain problem classes will change very dramatically - one of those problems will be cracking RC5.

(That reminds me: I wonder if I can enlist with a useful crypto-related project I'd like to do..?)

So am I.. (1)

Nelson (1275) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027303)

About how much would this cost? I've been kicking around the idea of buying an IBM PC110 lately, I know linux installs on it and they are getting pretty cheap.
If I could build a pentium based PC/104 for a similar price I'd be willing to do that and help come up with docs and what have you. I fugre you need at least a pentium if you're gonna play music on it.

This random story selection stuff (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027304)

You know, I started reading your comment with a negative response in mind, but really you're right..

I kinda feel bad for saying it, but six months or more ago I used to read nearly every article (easily 75%) because they were interesting/cool, but now, you're right.. I hit maybe 20% of the articles on a good day that look interesting. There've been days when I haven't had much of a desire to look at anything that's posted.

I think a lot of us seem to have noticed a similar trend. I think this story itself is rather interesting, but some of the others you mentioned simply aren't (except to a small minority, I'd wager)...

It is Rob's site, so really it's up to him to do whatever he wants with it. It started declining a bit when all of the loser's crawled out from under IRC with their annoying FC/troll posts but it doesn't help with the articles themselves aren't interesting to the majority of the readers.

Perhaps articles should be given a wider range of subject titles, LOTS more articles should be posted, and viewers should be given control over what they want to appear? Those of us who are interested in cool hardware could check that box, and those who are interested in misc. linux fun could check that. If they want to check every little checkbox, they'd get, say, 30-50 articles a day to wade through, but those of us who are interested in less would get more of what we want...

Just an idea.

Welcome to Slashdot (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027305)

Let me first say that I'm shocked at the responce to this artical. There has been very little comment of any worth beyond pointing out the multi-cpu SA-110 PCI boards. All I can say is grow up.

Welcome to Slashdot, IRC script kiddie and college dropout capital of the 'Net.

I miss the days when the conversation used to be relevant and interesting...

This random story selection stuff (1)

sengan-home (1901) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027306)

I did not see that one. The way it works is that each of us deletes stories we find inappropriate for /. I tend to like hardware more than the other /. authors so post more of it. That's all.

The plural of VAX is VAXen. (0)

nelsonrn (2165) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027307)

The plural of VAX is VAXen. Therefore, the plural of one Linux box is Linux boxen. Yes, I understand that y'all are too young to have heard the phrase "All the world's a VAX", but the DEC (that's Digital Equipment Corporation for you young'uns) VAX was the first popular Unix box.

VAX was the first popular Unix box??? (1)

nelsonrn (2165) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027308)

Yes, among Unix boxes. Only lusers ran VMS on them. :)

Hot Damn!! =) $150US For The SIMM (1)

nelsonrn (2165) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027309)

Also note that the MiniPLEB includes connectors, while the simm is just parts on a board. Connectors eat up board space and cost money.

Hot Damn!! =) $150US For The SIMM (1)

nelsonrn (2165) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027310)

I wasn't objecting to their presence, just pointing out that you can't put connectors on a board without increasing the cost.

This random story selection stuff (1)

Zooko (2210) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027311)

Yeah, i too am wishing for a slashdot alternative. Maybe we should post to "Ask Slashdot" asking for a slashdot alternative...


ChalTech StrongARM Board looks beautiful! (1)

Zooko (2210) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027312)

Hey that article that you pointed to was most impressive. They are actually producing the first 25 boards already!

If i understand it right you can buy one of those boards for $2000, plug it into a PCI slot, and you now have 6 new CPUs, very close to your main CPU, that are each about as fast as a Pentium II/233MHz at integer operations. That is mind-bogglingly impressive, and whichever one of the slashdot editors who dropped your story on the floor deserves a demotion.



P.S. If anyone knows of a slashdot alternative where such good stories don't get dropped on the floor and where the Penguin and Star Wars fluff and the bullshit like "Chaos Theory applied to laser communications" does get dropped on the floor, please e-mail .

"God fuck"? (1)

ainsoph (2216) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027313)

Isn't refering to someone as a fat bitch equally as vulgar? I am offended. No wonder half you computer geeks dont get laid.

"Boxen" IS stupid (1)

ainsoph (2216) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027314)

Tight box is also something that sounds like crap. How bout putting a stop to that as well??

"Boxen" IS correct (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027315)

Its been quite the standard for quite a while. Its not hip, its the way for many years. Where have you been?

The proper way to refer your machine is a box .

If you have more than one, you refer to them as boxen .

Examples are: I telneted into my Linux box from home. I drove to work and rebooted all my NT boxen .

VAX marketing (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027316)

Was it VMS that was touted as the "most user friendly" operating system? Everytime I cd'd to a directory as I typed "set default [somedirectory]" along with other strange formatting, I'd remember that user friendly quote from someone. I do know people who lived and breathed that operating system like I had been missing something. To this day, I still do not know what they were talking about. Except for those VMS boxen never crashed. And NT is supposed to be a reincarnation of VMS from its main developer from what I understand?

Boxen? (0)

drix (4602) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027317)

God fuck.. if that isn't the most annoying term ever invented. It's "boxes". B-O-X-E-S. Boxes.

"Boxen" IS stupid (1)

drix (4602) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027318)

Okay, let's draw the battle lines. Anyone who wants to sound like a total dumbass, and identify with "geek humor" (wee, what fun mommy!) can use boxen. The rest of us shall use "Linux boxes." You may it sound like a herd of pack animals.

Boxen? (1)

drix (4602) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027319)

Heheh. No. It ranks up their on my lameness scale slightly below "virii," "boxen," and "3r33+."

"Boxen" IS stupid (1)

cthonious (5222) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027320)

I hate that half german sounding crap ... probably most of the people saying "boxen" don't know they're changing the number of their english nouns in german. Ugh. This sounds REALLY stupid to anyone who knows german. Please put a stop to this.
Actualy, "box" to me is not a computer but something feminine, as in "tight box". Thank You.

"Boxen" IS stupid (1)

ajf (7321) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027321)

Actually, some of us spend more time actually working on computers then dealing with this joke of a language. Why is english so common? Because it's a hybrid of nearly everything. Borrow a prefix here, a rule or two there.. grab some ancient greek suffexes. Repeat 30 or 40 times, and you get english. Whee.

Sounds like a Microsoft product really...

Boxen? (1)

sinator (7980) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027322)

Actually, boxen is an example of the only true English way of pluralizing a word.

By 'true' I mean actual English, unpolluted by the Norman invasion of 1066.

Ox, Oxen.
Child, Children.

Very few of these plural forms survive. AFAIK the above two are the only one I can think of offhand. (Except the ever-present but irregular [wo]man, [wo]men.)

S suffixes to denote plurality are a greco-latinate derivative.

OTOH I see no need for computer geeks to speak Ye Olde English. But then what would you call a Beowulf cluster?

only mail (1)

baza (10888) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027323)

please...i want SMALL box with e-mail reading.......
not reply....only reading.... it`no matter - what OS will work in whis box.. Linux, QNX or BeOS.... and I wnad have access to simply pop servers...please
BeOS ( only russian, sorry []

HAHA -- from the slide show... (1)

noy (12372) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027324) 98/sld012.htm

Linux Furby? (1)

Cohen (12879) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027325)

Ok, take one of these, put them inside one
of those toy penguins, and ou end up with
a linux powered furby :-)

Vax (1)

Master Switch (15115) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027326)

Vaxen or Vaxes or whatever, where never popular Unix boxes, they were dedicated VMS boxes. You could run Unix on them, but they were never very popular Unix boxes. Digital Unix didn't really get its start until the Alpha came into the picture. I work with Vaxes and Alphas and we only run VMS on the VAX, never unix.

This random story selection stuff (1)

Industrial Disease (16177) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027327)

Well, you could start your own if you just had the Slashdot source code. Hey, wait a minute...

Those ARM SMP boards are cool. (1)

WeirdArms (16345) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027328)

Just one padantic comment. They arn't SMP boards
they are seperate machines linked by PCI on one
board. The difference? They are limited in speed
of data exchange between mahines by the PCI bus.
They why they run beawulf not SMP linux. SMP means
the CPU's share memory and usually a common clock.
Its possible to SMP the SA-110's and i beleive the
SA-1100 with some funky hardware hacks.
At the end of the Year I'm planning to make dual
SA-1100 version of MiniPLEB, but for now too busy :( Weird

This random story selection stuff (1)

zog_II (16367) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027329)

Oh, stop it, I'm drooling..
8 StrongARMs on a board for $2K?
I think I want one .. or two
How come that story slipped thru?

It's Linux "boxen" or NT "(dis)"servers (1)

Pseudonymous Coward (127794) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027330)

There's no content here... Move along!

Come on now! Move along! Move along!

English language? (1)

Pseudonymous Coward (127794) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027331)

You want it, you got it!

Let's take the word that sounds like "yaugh".

Yaw an idiot!
Yore linguistic skills suck!
In days of your people knew howe to speak properly.
The level of sanity you have seems to have an excessive you're.

If you are going to trash the english language, please have the decency to spell m
  • o
ngrel correctly!

Get it right, or make it obvious that you are getting it wrong and you know it!

Slashdot atlernative (1)

Ig (196028) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027332)

Linux Today [] moves much faster than slashdot. They get more stories quicker. The site is nowhere near as polished though.

Also, Slashdot seems to shut down when America sleeps, which is most of the time I'm awake. Linux today doesn't seem to do this.

I still like slashdot, but I agree: there's too much trivia.

Hey Rob, are you still reading? Get some savvy contributors in a different timezone so slashdot doesn't shut down for most of the day for Europeans. And read what you post before you post it. :-)

This random story selection stuff (0)

tarcus (206701) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027333)

So why is it that when I submitted a story about multi-CPU (6 or 8) PCI StrongARM boards about three weeks ago, it was ignored? The idea behind the boards were to run a beowulf cluster on each board, with up to four boards in each machine, 32 megs of RAM per chip. A prototype run has already started.

I've been trying to figure out why the story didn't run, considering that we get stuff about "Dilbert the cartoon" and some crap about a company that prints Pi on a bit of card amongst some other unbelievable trivia recently, it's odd that this site's slogan reads in part "stuff that matters". I don't think I read more than about 25% of the stories on this site any more, and I only read them when I'm waking up in the morning and my brain's not up to speed yet.

Why didn't the story run? It had a commercial backer, it was linux-specific, it came at a time when nothing else of any interest was being reported, and it was INTERESTING! 6 233MHz processors on a PCI card for less than $2000 with 32 megs each, up to four boards in a machine? Is that not INTERESTING?

I don't mind some trivia, but the trivia here is overwhelming the good stuff. Perhaps it's me, maybe stuff like the recent "live" video feed of some penguins is more important after all.

For those that are interested, the link for the boards is;

There's a page going into more detail on;

Does anyone know of any good slashdot alternatives? I've had "find slashdot alternative" on my todo list for several weeks now but haven't gotten around to it yet.


Slashdot atlernative (1)

tarcus (206701) | more than 15 years ago | (#2027334)

Nahh, there'd just be lots of stories about Java and coffee instead of penguins! ;-)


This random story selection stuff (1)

tarcus (206701) | more than 14 years ago | (#2027335)

I selected the "hardware" story type when I submitted the link, why on earth would someone who just junks most hardware subs be let loose on submissions that are flagged as "hardware"?


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