Linux bios and IBM Netvista 8363 (again)

zac luzader luzader at
Sat Aug 7 19:42:01 CEST 2004

Awhile back (a month ago), there was some interest in using linuxbios on
the IBM Netvista 8363 (aka N2200).
I have had one of these monstrosities for a while, and would LOVE to
replace the incredibly bloated and slow IBM bios. It **should** work,
since it is, in fact, a NS Geode chipset. There really isnt anything
else on the board except for the requisite sound codec (NatSemi),
ethernet (SiS), CF Card, RAM, bios and power supply.

There are a few reasons I havent tried this:
- I cannot get the thing to boot any sane operating system which would
allow me to reflash the bios in situ. I have it starting a 2.4.26 kernel
that I built, but although it sees the flash card it hangs on "unable to
mount root fs on 00:00". The IBM bios doesnt boot like a normal PC, it
is meant to either network-boot or directly load a vmlinux image without
a boot loader.
- The video chip has no native text display. Although it happily works
with the VESA framebuffer driver. So you cant debug that way (at least
not before the frame buffer loads).
Normally you can use serial or POST card to debug, this is all well and
good except that:
- the N2200/8363 has no legacy ports (no serial, parallel, or ps/2), it
has only VGA, audio, USB and ethernet.
- the N2200/8363 has one PCI slot. It is a miniature non-standard
connector meant to interface with a proprietary token ring adapter.

So I am not too keen on spending alot of time digging up a burner and a
extra chip (although I might be able to beg or borrow them) to be
presented with a black screen that I can't debug.

Point being:
How likely is it that there will be a problem?
Is it unlikely enough to try it blindly?
Is there be any other way to debug a problem?

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