Subject: Re: recommendations?
To: Brook Milligan <>
From: Andrew Gillham <>
List: tech-embed
Date: 01/10/2000 16:34:01
Brook Milligan writes:
> I'm trying to design a system with the following functionality:
> - runs NetBSD (of course)
> - ethernet: 10baseT min.
> - serial port
> - SCSI
> - smallish:  5" wide max, including side connectors/cabling
> - low cost
> This will be embedded so I'm envisioning a stripped down version of
> the OS; hence 4-8MB RAM should suffice, here.  Of course, I also need
> a boot device and perhaps other stuff for development only (floppy,
> video?).

I'm not really familiar with this area, but I am interested in getting
a NetBSD SBC working at some point.

Theoretically a serial console, and the ability to netboot a kernel should
be all that is needed.  A serial console is much better than video if you
need to capture console output during a crash, etc.  As for netbooting, I
would imagine most SBCs would have a socket for a boot rom.  This would
dictate finding a network card with netboot support though.

> I know I can do this with some PC/104 cards, but the only ones I can
> find have Pentiums which seems overkill for what I have in mind.

I've seen several places that sell 386 and 486 based systems.  Typically
you start losing things like onboard ethernet, etc when you drop down to
the older processors.  This can always be added via PC/104 bus cards though.

> Does anyone have suggestions on other systems (and vendors) to
> consider?

I have zero affiliation with any of these, just either liked their website
or the information they had available.

Personally I would like something like this:
	pentium class
	16bit audio (S/PDIF output would be a bonus)
	10/100 (or just 10) ethernet
	decent RAM options
	netboot ROM support
	small power requirements
	small, fitting in a 1x5.25" external drive chassis would be ok.

Then, I would work on netbooting a kernel with a internal ramdisk.  This
would have:
	small webserver. (thttpd?)
	nfs client support/utilities
	smb client support/utilities (via "rumba" software)
	local cgi hacks to implement web based MP3 player :-)
	[optionally a local EIDE CDROM]

So I would have a small "box" with audio output, ethernet, and power.  It
would be able to netboot from a "server" on the network, and act as an MP3
player appliance next to my component system.  Remote control via browser
with the ability to either NFS mount for MP3 files, or to mount a share from
a Windows box.  Depending, I could perhaps have a chunk of flash to eliminate
the need for the netboot.  With the optional local CDROM, it could be a
audio cd player/MP3 cd player.

So far the SBCs I've looked at would be around $400 for what I need.  Not
counting RAM and/or CDROM and the case/power supply.  Still, it is something
I would like to work on. :-)

Andrew Gillham                            | This space left blank                     | inadvertently.
I speak for myself, not for my employer.  | Contact the publisher.