Some newbie questions

Ralph Siemsen ralphs at
Wed Sep 17 14:42:14 EDT 2008

On Wed, Sep 17, 2008 at 11:22:56AM -0700, Bill Smith wrote:

> I was able to find a fairly old Netwinder 275, and got it working OK.  It must be one of the older models, with 32MB RAM, and a 810MB HD.  The OS kernel date is June 29, 1998.  I've read through the archives here, and most of the material posted at  Apparently, most of the firmware has been removed from the site due to GPL restrictions.  I'd love to update the firmware so that I could also update the OS.

The legal situation for Nettrom hasn't changed, unfortunately.  However
you probably have 2.1.x firmware, and about the only reason to update it
would be if you want to expand the memory (128M), or a the disk (>130G).
Otherwise it should be fine for booting...

> Any ideas as to how firmware can be obtained?  Do any other boot managers work on this machine?

At one time I was working on a replacement for Nettrom.  I also tried
porting u-boot (sorta works) and Redboot at one time.  None of these
are usable though, they all lack important things like memory detection.

> I will probably try to replace the existing hard disk with a CF-IDE adapter.  Has anyone tried this, and if so, does it then run cool enough to shut off the fan?  Any real performance hits with a Compact Flash, and would it be safe to turn off swap?

On the older model (that you likely have), there is no way to shut off
the fan via software, so it will always be running.  I would recommend 
unplugging it and monitoring temperature via software ("cat /proc/therm").
You could also consider replacing the fan with a quieter one if you like,
or do as I do: operate with the top cover removed at all times, convection
takes care of cooling.

CF is faster than disk these days, so no issue there.  As for turning off
swap, that will depend on what you plan to use your machine for.  Running
a nameserver, web server, and mail server, you will probably need swap,
or be pretty close.  Sadly ;(

NFS booting is an option, if you have a suitable server on your network.
Then you can completely remove the hard disk in the netwinder...


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