66% or better

Running the Linux kernel on a DE0-nano FPGA board

[Mike] has been filling up a rather intense wiki entry outlining how to run uClinux on a DE0-nano FPGA board. This is an inexpensive dev board that will run you somewhere between $80 and $100. Right off the bat he goes into a hefty list of the reasons that this is a foolish activity. To name a few: Once you’ve complete the build the device will be tethered for reboot.  This board doesn’t have Ethernet hardware and TCP/IP is one of the beast features of the uClinux kernel. And the FPGA tools are closed-source, which doesn’t often mesh with the ideals of Linux developers. But we still like to see what it really takes to get these large-scope firmware builds to compile and load correctly.

After his preamble you’ll find three main chunks. The first deals with setting up the toolchain on Fedora 14. From there, he installs packages necessary for cross-compiling, pulls down the source packages, and gets to work. Once the kernel is compiled and running on the FPGA [Mike] goes on to show you how to build out a simple hardware add-on in the form of a couple of LEDs connected to extra FPGA pins. The final portion of the wiki details rolling support for toggling the LEDs into the software distribution.

Linux (via iLoader) out for Nano 2G

Iloader

[Linux4Nano] over at the [Gna! repositories] have just finalized a breakthrough for their bootloaderproject.  Because the iPod Nano 2G has a hardware encryption chip, it could previously not be flashed with a custom firmware. By digging around in some assembly code (and working their magic) the team was able to get Linux onto the 2G, develop drivers for its peripherals (screen, clickwheel and serial interface are a few), and put all of that code into a package convenient to install by the end user. If you’ve ever considered installing uClinux (the ported distro) on your Nano, the [Linux4Nano] team have made the iLoader an easy place to start.

Update: Closer inspection yields that the iLoader is not yet able to load uClinux onto a 2G because it has not been ported. However, it can reload it with other custom firmware which is still a solid breakthrough.