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Universal Linux-based Internet Appliance

CmdrTaco posted more than 14 years ago | from the stuff-to-hack-on dept.

Linux 51

This is an interesting one: 3ilinux is working on a sort of generic embeddable Linux box. Basically, they've handled much of the engineering, and they'll help vendors who want to make low cost Embedded Linux routers and what have you's. The hardware is 386 or 486 based, and can have ether, modems, buttons, and LCD displays. And of course it runs Linux from 4MB of flash memory.

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Slashdot: News for Blind. Stuff that's obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423594)

Now it's even (Score:5, Informative). What more is there to say?

Re:What about PC104? (1)

Jay Carlson (28733) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423595)

check out or (sorry about the name, but they're in the same $300 price range)

At least there are PRICES for the 3ilinux box. There seems to be some kind of taboo against publishing PC104 component prices.

Re:3ilinux/3inet/go2fax/faxtel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423596)

Well, yes, we do have a product called Internet Fax Box, based on the same hardare platform (see 3iNet is our parent company. But no, we do not make fax machines. We have been developing Linux software and embedded Linix and QNX for almost 4 years. Now we make this technology available to other companies working on embedded Linux devices. Ivo Zivkov 3iLinux

Re:And now... a bit of OO (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423597)

One word - Jini.

Score 4? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423598)

These pictures are one click away from the 3ilinux [] home page, with that link labeled "Pictures". Aren't Slashdot moderators able to find that link themselves? Incredible.

Re:And now... a bit of OO (1)

sansbury (97480) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423599)

perhaps, with verification and security of some sort, this could even be done remotely

Try changing "perhaps" to only with in the above statement.

Imagine the possibilities otherwise- Someone writes a Thanksgiving script that cranks your oven up and down randomly. There goes the turkey!

Or maybe it turns your refrigerator off, or turns it into a freezer.

The general public hasn't really cared about system security because it has a limited impac on them. As long as their bank accounts don't get cracked, they don't care. Home computers connected to the internet 24/7 are a start, but the minute people become sysadmins for their home they might start to take notice of these things...


Re:Where's the source?? (1)

hal9k (7650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423600)

M-Systems (the maker of the Disk on Chip) gives you the kernel patches if you ask for it. Been using DOC with Linux for a while now, and M-Systems has given the driver out for as long as I remember.

Re:Where's the source?? (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423601)

no. whether or not you have bought one, they have to give you the source. from the GPL:

1. [text missing] You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee.

2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

[text missing] * b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

.. so they don't neccicarily have to put the source up on an FTP server for public download. They do, however, have to give out copies to _anyone_ who asks and charge only a nominal amount, which according to this post [] they are already doing.

Re:Why on Earth? (1)

hal9k (7650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423602)

As of Linux 2.2, Linux has better networking capabilities than those others mentioned above. It makes perfect sense to use Linux in embedded hardware as long as there is enough CPU power and RAM available. And the Disk on Chip looks to Linux like a hard disk. You can partition it, and dont have to worry about flash drivers. It's a rather nice interface.

An alternative: L4/Fiasco/Linux (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423603)

L4/Linux [] can already do much of this. L4 is a family of message-passing protected-mode microkernels, much like the QNX microkernel. Implementations exist for several machines (x86, Alpha, MIPS, StrongARM). It's possible to run Linux in an L4 process, and this is called L4/Linux. But real-time apps normally run directly on the kernel. It's one of those systems where almost everything is a protected-mode processes, including drivers,file systems, and networking. A very fast IPC mechanism in the kernel makes this feasible.

And it's all open source.

I haven't tried L4, but it's worth a look.

Re:Why Do They Use FrontPage to make that page ??? (1)

JustinX (101340) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423604)

Or possibly hired a marketing person to handle their website and press release(s), etc.. and he only knows how to use windows.

Re:What about PC104 -- Price? (1)

upper (373) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423605)

Yeah, they're a bit cheaper than most PC-104 stuff. But why didn't they make their boards PC-104 compatible? It would make the products vastly more flexible -- would it add that much to the cost?

Because for most apps, those OSes are OVERKILL. (2)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423606)

I will be one of the first to tell someone that those are GREAT OSes for deterministic applications- for most embedded apps, you don't need deterministic operation. That makes using something like OS-9 (which I used years ago as my primary OS (Tandy Color Computer 3...)), QNX, or Lynx major overkill. For these OSes, you'll spend lots of money on something you don't need and won't use- deterministic operation. Linux fills that gap very well (In fact, so well that the Lynx people are extending Linux for light-duty real-time applications and giving it all back to the community- using the support angle and the upgrade path to Lynx for the high-perormance systems angle to make money off of it.)

Re:What about PC104 -- Price? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423607)

PC-104 stuff's a bit pricey. If all you need is something like an integrated, does it all, mail gateway/web cache/firewall for something like an xDSL or Cable "Modem", they may have a better setup than a PC-104 board. It all boils down to what you're going for.

Re:And now... a bit of OO (1)

norton_I (64015) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423608)

Try changing "perhaps" to only with in the above statement.

or read the statement "If you had verification and security, perhaps you could even do this remotely"

Now don't you wish English was LALR(1)?

Re:Where's the source?? (2)

gothic (64149) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423609)

The source for the ToolKit can be found here:

I hope that helps you out. I'd be interested in looking at it, but heck, I don't do C++ . =]

Re:Slashdot: News for Blind. Stuff that's obvious. (1)

cybersquid (24605) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423610)

Well, maybe you should try... oh, wait. You're an AC, so others will have to carry the burden of moderation for you.

You're welcome, BTW. :->

Print servers (1)

twixel (30362) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423611)

HP Jetdirect print servers are very bad. They don't hold up under load, can crash when two computers send a job at the same time, no tools for management.

Get an Axis: robust engineering, very good print management.

Re:Where's the source?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423612)

They only have to give you the source if you buy one. Go read the GPL.

Careful... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423613)

Please be careful dealing with this place. They would seem to be a tiny, potentially fly-by-night operation heavy on hype and short on products. As many have noticed, they're not exactly Linux geniuses, either... Sorry, don't mean to trash what may be a real product, but hyping this thing to 50,000 Slashdot users smells similar to when this guy hyped his stuff [] on the embedded-linux mailing list, forgetting to mention that he works for the company making them.

I hate x86 (1)

smurfi (91140) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423614)

That's fun, but I'd rather see an ARM system. Much less power consumption, and there already are a bunch of Linux systems that use it, like the Empeg car radio [] .

Re:How about handhelds.. (1)

doMe22 (132165) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423615)

i am also trying to get linux working on my nino...16 meg of ram and a 64 meg flash card... theres a good resource for linux on handhelds at check it out

Re:I hate x86 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423616)

Check out here >>

StrongARM processor and linux support is "in the works."

embedded linux router? (1)

Wizard of OS (111213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423617)

Hmm, what exactly is this? Does it mean that I can route my network with my microwave?? :)

How about handhelds.. (1)

pipeb0mb (60758) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423618)

This is all well and good, but, I wanna throw a linux distrib on my Philips nino. 16mb of ram/rom and a 15mb storage card. How cool would THAT be...

At least a Linux handheld would be fast, stable and cheap...

Why Do They Use FrontPage to make that page ??? (1)

jdigital (84195) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423619)

Have a quick check of their HTML source and u will find a big ugly microsoft frontpage bit of java that gives the pengiun a flashing third eye.

This raises a few questions :

i. Why do some people who do the good job of promoting linux fall back on M$ apps ?

ii. Why is this bunch (along with PLENTY of ppl on the web) using a sledgehammer to solve a simple problem. ie, why not use and animated gif or better a png instead of a crappy script ?

PS: My homepage is broken. I forgot to pay the DNS, if someone wants to pay for me, i would be greatful ;)

Re:Internet "Appliance" (1)

tooth (111958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423620)

I think these sort of devices will become more popular when "average Joe" gets a 24/7 net connection. Probably be used as a firewall for dummies (Plug and pray?)

You know, look out or the big bad Internet will get your box and the evil hackers will DELETE YOUR COMPUTER! LOOK OUT! VIRII! HACKERS and CRACKERS (oh-my!)

(Gee Martha, We gotta get us one of those things)

btw, it's 2000 isn't it? Where the heck is my flying car dammit! We should all have them by now, and I've missed out! Must be y2k and problems with the e-car site ;)

Internet "Appliance" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423621)

I have an Internet "appliance" sitting on the other side of my room, it's a 386/25 laptop with 4 MB of RAM and a 170 GB hard drive that can run Linux. This came years before this new gadget talked about on Slashdot... So what?

Re:Why Do They Use FrontPage to make that page ??? (1)

johnburton (21870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423622)

It's javascript not java. There is a big difference. And it appears to work fine on netscape on linux.. I agree that a animatated graphics would be better.

Why on Earth? (1)

FFFish (7567) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423623)

There are so many other embedded OSes out there, designed from the ground up to be run out of ROMs, with very little memory.

Microware OS-9 is one; it's a fantastic, multitasking, multiuser, uses device drivers that put Linux to shame, and does it in as little as sixteen kilobytes of memory. And it uses dirt-cheap processors that draw next to no power (compared to 386/486 CPUs).

QNX is another, with real-time interrupt processing and, again, exceptionally small memory footprint.

In comparison to those two OSes, and several others, it doesn't seem appropriate to use Linux as an embedded OS. It's not even reinventing the wheel: it's taking sliced bread and bashing it into the shape of a wheel...

What about PC104? (4)

smurd (48976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423625)

Any "Internet Appliance" will probably need A/D, D/A and digital IO to do anything useful. What does the UID buy you other then the drivers for the neat LCD, buttons and the included modem?

PC104 stuff has been around for years and has a good complement of add on cards for IO, ethernet and analog.

check out or (sorry about the name, but they're in the same $300 price range)

It's not that difficult to roll your own with a boot/root image and loadlin. Most included software will take a floppy image and create a bin file to burn into eprom. If you are willing to do an initial M$DOS boot you don't even need any special drivers or kernels, a standard distribution boot/root/rescue works fine as a starting point.

Re:Why on Earth? (4)

Gurlia (110988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423626)

Hmm, interesting point. With Linux riding the all the hype and penetrating all kinds of markets, I'm beginning to get the feeling that some people are shoe-horning Linux into where something else might be more appropriate (flameshield on...).

Standard disclaimer: I've nothing against Linux, in fact I use it exclusively and I love it... but... although the nice thing about using Linux for embeddables like this is that you get open standards (rather than locked-down markets that MS would love to have), don't you think this is getting a little out of hand?? I don't believe in one-size-fits-all (as can be seen in MS's case). Sure, Linux is flexible, configurable, and all that, but IMNSHO embeddables would do better to have a system *designed* for the task. Why take a PC OS and shoe-horn it into an embeddable??

Now of course, the flip-side is that using Linux means that these devices will have open standards, which is always a good thing... but the argument still holds: what's preventing us from writing an *open source*, dedicated system designed for this task??

Re:Internet "Appliance" (2)

Money__ (87045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423627)

386/25 laptop with 4 MB of RAM and a 170 GB hard drive

That's gotta be a typo?
I don't think many Linux users are dumb enough to put 170 Gig of storage in a 386/25 box.

Could it be a: 386/25 laptop with 4 MB of RAM and a 170 MB hard drive ??.

Re:Why Do They Use FrontPage to make that page ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423628)

Whatever they did, it is not Linux-specific but may be Netscape-specific. It also affects Netscape on my wife's Win98 box.

And now... a bit of OO (1)

Fross (83754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423629)

all this needs now is a set of standards on how to interface an "object", or set of objects, in your household network, so you can throw a "turn yourself on" request at your toaster, or "close all the windows" at a general window controller.

perhaps, with verification and security of some sort, this could even be done remotely. eg, while sitting on the train on the way home, tell the radiators and lights to turn on, and the microwave to start cooking the meal you left in it of a morning...

then of course, you could play a version of "Quake" along said lines too, with a webcam mounted on top of a vacuum cleaner, chasing household pets *evil grin*... but i digress.

Fross :>

Hooray! (2)

Gerdts (125105) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423630)

I have looked high and low for something like this in the past to deal with a couple problems that I have had to deal with.

The first problem (already solved, very expensively) was to find a way to set up a secure terminal server to access the console of my sun servers. Using a standard terminal server didn't quite meet my needs 'cause I couldn't find one that supported ssh. The best solution that I could find was to get a SCSI terminal server [] and attach it onto an old sun. This cost me over $1000 and an old sun. If I could have gotten one of these boxes with 16 serial ports, I would have gone with it instead.

The second application that I would use something like this for is a print server. Sure, you can get HP JetDirect cards or standalone print servers from HP, but from my experience they suck pretty bad. Any piece of hardware that makes me walk to it to reboot it more than once per year is begging to be replaced. One of these boxes with a couple parallel ports and an LCD panel to say whose job is being printed to which printer would be awesome.

Re:Why Do They Use FrontPage to make that page ??? (1)

cheese63 (74259) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423631)

Why would you assume that the makers of this product would have the time to develop their own website? The probably hired some company to do it.

finally (1)

jdonofrio99 (85809) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423632)

finally a linux os based internet, etc. appliance. there have been way to many windowsish type OS for these damn machines and its really starting to get annoying. LINUX FOREVER!

Documentation (1)

brewster (14462) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423633)


Click on the picture below to download the UIB Toolkit documentation in Word97 format."

Why? ...for the same reason they produce their documentation in M$ Werd

Re:Why Do They Use FrontPage to make that page ??? (1)

jdigital (84195) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423634)

yes. point taken. i did mean javascript.

Re:Why on Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423635)

Inexpensive open-source alternative won't do any harm in the embedded world either. Wide developer base and open standards are very nice as well. Newly recruited developers are more likely to have experience on Unix programming as general than programming some specific embedded OS.

Re:Why on Earth? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423636)

The reason this is useful, is to keep the cost down, the most important thing about embedded systems.

Wind river, or QNX are well established, tis true. But I doubt that the pace of innovation in the software application area is even comparable to that of linux.

For example, the DSL modem on my desk could be running linux instead of wind river. It could then leverage many linux applications, implementing most of thestuff found on a full fledged server, all on a solid state box (no hard drive, which means lower power and more durability.) The stuff probaly exists for wind river or QNX, but it'll beway behind in functionality compared totheconstantly updated and revised linux applications.

If it ran linux, then the vendor (or me!) coul slap a minimal mail server, VPN, NAT etc . . As it is, i've got one lousy IP address and in have to set up a whole linux box just to do NAT for the dumb modem.

Re:I hate x86 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423637)

From previous post >> []

Re:Why Do They Use FrontPage to make that page ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423638)

Well, we just don;t have the manpower and the time to spend a lot of time on the web pages. If somebody is interested to participate in some of the project accosiated with 3iLinux, please contact me by e-mail at: Ivo Zivkov

Re:Why on Earth? (2)

smurd (48976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423639)

Corporate deadlines.

I had to add SNMP to our rs-232 8 bit 68HC11 based product as soon as possible (2 months max development time including hardware). I wound up using a PC104 linux box with NE2000 add on card.

Development time was 1 week to make linux work out of eprom, 3 weeks to write SNMP client, 3 weeks to make a pretty 1U package.

It's overkill, but total time to market was 4 weeks from customer request to delivery.

Re:Careful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423640)

Thank you for allowing me to respond to this publicly, but your comment is really unfair. We have almost 4 years experience in developing embedded systems under Linux and QNX. Our company has 7 pending patents on technology, which we have developed, some of which can be seen here: Our sister company, FaxTel, ( is well established and funded, and is one of the leaders in faxing technology. Ivo Zivkov

Where's the source?? (2)

TurkishGeek (61318) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423641)

It's good to see someone had modified the kernel to support the "Disk-on-a-chip", but where's the modified kernel source code then? Where are the patches? I believe a lot of us can have a use for it, there are nice boards on the market using these things, which emulate a hard disk completely, AFAIK.

-- []
A site for everything Bluetooth. Coming in January 2000.

Re:Why Do They Use FrontPage to make that page ??? (2)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 14 years ago | (#1423642)

why not use and animated gif or better a png instead of a crappy script ?

They do use an animated gif (Opera shows it fine with scripting disabled). Now, PNGs wouldn't allow the animation they wanted, and would likely force some sort of weird javascript solution ;-)

Of course, to have PNG animation, we'll have to wait for browser support of MNG [] .

3ilinux/3inet/go2fax/faxtel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423643)

These are all the same guys. They're a fax company that makes fax machines that decided to try linux as their OS. Big deal. ALL of their web pages are MS Frontpage BTW.

Re:price- 3ilinux website says < $200 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1423644)

180 for single qty
to 150 in batches of 1000
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