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Old 11-11-2009, 03:11 AM   #1
Coburn64
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Question Best Distro for a IBM 8363 Thin Client?


Hey all.

I have this IBM 8363 NetVista N2000 Thin Client that I purchased off eBay, thinking I could run a Linux distro on it. However, I have run into some brick walls, and found some ways around them - but faced with even more brick walls! Can you help me out?

The problem is that this client doesn't actually use a BIOS, it uses Firmware that mimics a BIOS. When it boots, it looks for a file called kernel.2x00 on the CompactFlash Card, and loads that into memory.

The kernel.2x00 can't be a renamed bzImage file, as the firmware gets stuck on loading the kernel if it's bzipped. A uncompressed kernel (vmlinux) works like a treat. The client then appends root=/dev/hda1 in the kernel's boot arguments in RAM and boots the kernel. Some kernels boot up fine, I get to the "Where's init?" part of the kernel.

The Compact Flash Card is Only 32MB in size, and I don't intend to use this client for much. Possibly just IRC and some web browsing. Or a USB Jukebox.

I was looking at Tiny Core Linux, but it seems to use a bzipped kernel and the client chokes on that.

Can anyone link me to distro or two that is below 32MB in size that uses a decompressed kernel?

Cheers,
Matthew C.
 
Old 11-11-2009, 08:06 PM   #2
Mr-Bisquit
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Replace the compact flash card with a larger one.
Install Tinycore Linux to it with a small browser and other items as loadable modules.
You can boot from a usb device.
You can have swap on an external drive, static libraries and binaries on the card, links to static libraries- if wanted- on an external drive.

Do you have all of the memory there?
 
Old 11-12-2009, 02:00 AM   #3
Coburn64
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I have 96MB RAM available. The thin client is limited to 32MB onboard RAM + 256MB max DDR RAM.

The thing is that the bzImage (which in my knowledge is the bzipped kernel) from the TinyCore ISO will not boot, because the firmware is not able to decompress the image. However, it will successfully load a uncompressed kernel into RAM and then boot.
 
Old 11-12-2009, 04:21 AM   #4
Mr-Bisquit
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Upgrade to 256M.
 
Old 11-13-2009, 12:21 AM   #5
Coburn64
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Alright.

I can't see that upgrading the RAM would solve the problem, but here goes...

EDIT:

I think I may be onto something. I found a bootloader for it, called nsboot. This person seemed to get Fedora onto the thin client: http://netbsd.sk/~lkundrak/blog/entr...-netvista.html

Quote:
Bootloader Solution

This can be worked around by using second stage loader nsboot. It basically loads as 2.2 kernel at 0x100000 (1M), relocates itself away, does something and uncompresses the kernel image, again at 1M -- this is not configurable and have to be taken into account when creating the configuration for kernel build.

Unfortunatelly, it can not obtain the kernel image from network, just from Ext2 formated CF. It needs kernel in /nwrlinux/bzImage and initial ram disk image in /nwrlinux/initrd -- both have to exist. To boot them you should specify the nsboot binary as kernel in the setup utility, you can place it on a network server, or on CF as well.

Last edited by Coburn64; 11-13-2009 at 12:30 AM. Reason: Added more info
 
Old 11-13-2009, 01:52 PM   #6
Mr-Bisquit
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Have you tried smaller systems such as a Debian based?
 
Old 11-13-2009, 05:26 PM   #7
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It originally used turbo linux.
The only directories which would need read/write access would be /home, /var, /tmp. Everything else could be static read only on the CF. This information should be loadable at boot.
 
  


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