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Tiny Linux Boxen 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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Tiny Linux Boxen

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    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)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Another project along those lines is at [].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    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.

  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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..?)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Yes, among Unix boxes. Only lusers ran VMS on them. :)
  • Also note that the MiniPLEB includes connectors, while the simm is just parts on a board. Connectors eat up board space and cost money.
  • I wasn't objecting to their presence, just pointing out that you can't put connectors on a board without increasing the cost.

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

  • 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 .
  • Isn't refering to someone as a fat bitch equally as vulgar? I am offended. No wonder half you computer geeks dont get laid.
  • Tight box is also something that sounds like crap. How bout putting a stop to that as well??
  • 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 .

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • by drix ( 4602 )
    Heheh. No. It ranks up their on my lameness scale slightly below "virii," "boxen," and "3r33+."
  • 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.
  • 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...

  • 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?
  • 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 []
  • 98/sld012.htm
  • Ok, take one of these, put them inside one
    of those toy penguins, and ou end up with
    a linux powered furby :-)
  • 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.
  • Well, you could start your own if you just had the Slashdot source code. Hey, wait a minute...
  • 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
  • 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?
  • There's no content here... Move along!

    Come on now! Move along! Move along!

  • 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!

  • 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. :-)

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


  • 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"?


Forty two.