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Iyonix Linux port established

By Chris Williams. Published: 8th May 2003, 14:13:02 | Permalink | Printable

Debian + Iyonix = Debonix

The 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 point
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.

Website
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.

Links


Linux for Iyonix [mirrored on prowl.org]
Iyonix website
* 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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Discussion

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Oh first post! :-)

My Work are currently using REDHAT Linux on a x86 to cross compile code onto a Intel 400MHz Xscale development board in order to develop ARM code in our future handheld products.

I'll certainly mention to my Boss that there is a Linux port available for the Iyonix PC. But I can't see any real advantage to our programmers having a real Xscale Desktop PC running Linux or RISC OS to develop our ARM code.

I've no idea how much this Intel development board costed. It's got a cute rotatable LCD screen and compact flash cards, etc. Would a Iyonix PC be any cheaper or offer any advantage over this Intel dev board?

I imagine a lot of Xscale developers are currently buying this Intel Dev. board as they've never really had much of an alternative.

 is a RISC OS Userquatermass on 8/5/03 7:15PM
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Attack of the REDHAT CAPS ;-)

I don't know the exact price of the Intel boards (IQ80200 and IQ80321), but I understand they cost rather more than an Iyonix, and you don't get a functional desktop computer to boot.

This is part of the reason that Peter Milne was so interested in Linux on Iyonix.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 8/5/03 7:22PM
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I have a Redhat hat (won it in a prize draw).I prefer Debian too :-).

-- Steve

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 8/5/03 11:40PM
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I know the name Peter Milne but can't think who he is - someone enlighten me? -- Gavin Smith

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 9/5/03 12:23AM
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Everyone knows IRIX is the only proper OS. <fx: ducks> -- Ian Hawkins (g0tai)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 9/5/03 7:42AM
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go: Get porting :-)

Peter M. is just an individual who had an interest in the project, and whose input has been very helpful.

With regard to distributions, before anyone asks, Debian is far and away the most complete (Redhat really being the only other option). But I know of at least 2 other efforts to bring others to ARM Linux.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 9/5/03 7:46AM
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g0tai: Damn right! (and Solaris!)

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 9/5/03 11:18AM
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Hah! SuSE is the best distro :-)

Anyhow, to the point - Castle has not got a distribution (contrary to what the article says). What they have is a kernel (how much is included in this kernel?). A distro is a *lot* more than that. And a lot of work, compiling and testing everything. A kernel by itself isn't a whole lot of use, unfortunately. If Castle can put a distro together, that would be great - at the least, they could include a Debian sources disk and a gcc binary.

-- John Pettigrew, Cambridge

 is a RISC OS Userjohnpettigrew on 9/5/03 11:47AM
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404s? dodgy out of date proxy more like...

 is a RISC OS Userwilf on 9/5/03 11:58AM
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jp: your point doesn't make much sense. Debian as it is works just fine with Iyonix Linux. The article doesn't say they have "got" a distribution. Even though, in fact, they have, in a loose sense of the word.

The packaging of Debian on CD will just be Debian ARM as it always is (although perhaps with a couple of minor updates for Iyonix). There really is nothing special here.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 9/5/03 12:12PM
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john: We didn't say they had a Debian distro finished, we said they were working on it. The kernel and basic disc images are up and we gather development is very much still in progress. Hence the "established" bit in the headline.

wilf: They could have course fixed the website by now.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 9/5/03 12:14PM
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My fave linux distro: [link] ;-)

-- Daniel Jones, Altrincham

 is a RISC OS Userjonesd98 on 9/5/03 9:42PM
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