PVR with LinuxBIOS. What board is recommended? Some questions

Jochen Roemling jochen at roemling.net
Mon Apr 26 16:48:01 CEST 2004

Brian Maly wrote:

>>1. I found out that LinuxBIOS supports VGA only for very few chipsets
>>like the SiS630. If I would use a VGA card that comes with it's own BIOS
>>(let's say some ATI radeon) and not using any on-board-VGA-device, would
>>it work if the mainboard has a LinuxBIOS-supported chipset? My feelings
>>say "yes", don't they?
>You will need some video device supported by linuxbios. If the video
>chipset is supported in linuxbios, then it should work, but its worth
>mentioning that VGA is not yet supported on many/most motherboards...
>Framebuffer support may be a better option. You could use something like
>an ATI RageXL or other supported framebuffer device.
Okay, so the Mainboard BIOS initializes all other BIOSes (VGA, SCSI...). 
I always thought they pop up by themselves (silly, yeah) and only the 
on-board components that are normally initialized by the Mainboard BIOS 
need to be activated... maybe this thought was formed because the VGA 
BIOS is always first and then ... forget it.

But ATI Rage XL sounds good. It's just the category I was looking for: 
Fast, cheap, passive cooling, available in eBay. Very good.

>>2. I'm going to use the Hauppauge PVR 350 card that has a TV-out which -
>>according to the net - is available to Linux as a frame buffer device,
>>so X and the TV Applications should be able to use this. Does this mean
>>I would be able to boot LinuxBIOS with serial console only and then
>>start up XFree86 using this PVR 350 Framebuffer device?
>You will probably need to initialize this device somehow. If you had a
>kernel module or some XFree86 patch that does the all of the video init
>(i.e. biosless init), this will work. Otherwise you will have to create
>a linuxbios driver for this device so the init can be done in linuxbios.
We will see. The PVR 350 project page sounds promissing. The card has no 
own BIOS, the TV out is just a frame buffer device and they have their 
own kernel module for it.

>you can do (1) kernel on DoC, use (2) FILO to boot a kernel off the HD,
>or (3) etherboot to load the kernel from the network.
Okay, this is still not quite understood: In order to be able to 
initialize the mainboard the mainline kernel has to be patched with some 
kind of boot-loader-from-DoC-thing. But where are the patches for 2.6? 
They are not in CVS. And what about this Etherboot: Can I use some 
ordinary BootROM? I don't think so. This means, the code on the DoC 
simulates a BootROM and then does dhcp, tftp and the like? I gues I have 
to seek out for more documentation. This seems to be a good solution 
because you never have to update your DoC again once it does it's job. 
With the kernel in the DoC you may want to upgrade from time to time if 
new kernels arrive.

>Arima/hdama or most of the Tyan's. Tyan may give you a better selection
>because more motherboards are supported. This assumes you want to dish
>out some $$$ for an opteron.
No, definitely not.  I thought about a more consumer-like board with an 
Athlon or Celeron.
SiS630 sounded like a good choise, but the only boards I could find was 
a Gigabyte GA-6SMZ7, which is nowhere in the stores. Same with the ASUS 
CUSI. And this EPIA pops up everywhere on PVR pages, but it has only 2 
PCI slots... very dificult to decide...

Thanks for your quick reply btw.


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