Iyonix Linux port establishedBy Chris Williams. Published: 8th May 2003, 14:13:02 | Permalink | Printable
Debian + Iyonix = DebonixThe developers of the XScale powered Iyonix, Castle Technology, have this afternoon launched their Linux for Iyonix project in order to provide a port of the Linux kernel to Iyonix users. We've learnt that Castle are "commited to producing a full Debian Linux distribution for the Iyonix".
"In addition to RISC OS, Castle's IYONIX pc is now able to run Linux", stated Castle spokesman Mike Williams today. "Linux for the IYONIX pc is based upon the developments of ARM Linux, and more specifically, recent XScale support."
Linux is a free open source operating system kernel that can be ported to just about any modern computer system and aims to have all the features you'd expect from a UNIX. The effort to port it to the Iyonix hardware was lead by Peter Naulls* with input and advice from Peter Milne and others. Debian is a distribution of Linux and a personal favourite of the drobe.co.uk editors.
As it stands, the ported kernel identifies itself as version 2.4.19-rmk7-ds1-pn1 and a Linux 2.5 port has been started with changes being fed back to the ARM Linux group, we're told. From Castle's site, you can download linloader (which boots Linux from RISC OS), the patch laden 2.4.19 kernel image and a disc image of the Debian rescue disc which contains all the essential tools and programs to get a working Linux system. Castle are intending to bundle their Iyonix Linux distribution with shipped Iyonixes.
Also available are the necessary source code patches in case you want to build your own Iyonix compatible kernel. Currently, the Iyonix's ethernet device, video system, serial port and USB mouse and keyboard are supported. The IDE system and audio system are unsupported, for the moment. You can however mount a remote disc over NFS. The Iyonix Linux port is in its early stages although it works well enough for a basic system and a fully working distribution is being worked on, we're assured.
Logged into an Iyonix
The burning question is 'why Linux?' Castle surprised us all by pulling a 32 bit RISC OS 5 out of the bag and developing an XScale computer to run it. While we're confident that Castle aren't in a hurry to ditch RISC OS, we feel the Castle backing of the Linux port is a move to increase choice to end users. There's things that the Linux platform can provide that the RISC OS platform cannot and this of course works both ways, RISC OS can do things that Linux cannot (like running a good UI and StrongED).
With the Iyonix, Castle aren't just selling RISC OS 5 - they're also selling hardware (all thirteen hundred quids worth) and it's our guess that they want to enable their users and customers to get the most out of their system.
Besides, the Iyonix Linux port is not difficult to set up once you've downloaded it from Castle's site so Iyonix users not familiar with Linux can get a gentle first taste of running their own personal UNIX. We're eagerly awaiting an Apache web server port so we can feverishly announce iyonix.drobe.co.uk, or something.
We all know this isn't the first time Castle have tango'ed with Linux, though they did in the end release their HAL sources. And finally yes, we know this is Linux based news.
Castle have also taken the opportunity to update the layout of their website, calling the changes "extensive" although there's one or two 404s that need ironing out.
"We have introduced a new 'At-a-glance' area to the IYONIX pc web site", Castle's Jack Lillingston commented today on the site update. "This adds a new, more structured route map to explain fully many of the features and benefits of the IYONIX pc in an easy to follow format".
Whilst sticking to the frame based design, Castle have partitioned their site into two halves, one side with lots of information on RISC OS 5 and another with details on the above Linux work.
Linux for Iyonix [mirrored on prowl.org]
* As a declaration of interest, Peter Naulls is the drobe.co.uk assistant editor and he did play a big part in producing the Iyonix Linux Port.
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