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Intel IOPs gain better Debian Linux support

Mar 19, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 12 views

As Debian moves inexorably (glacially?) toward “Etch,” its next release, ARM support keeps improving. Debian hacker Martin Michlmayr reports that Release Candidate 2 of the Etch installer, available now, adds support for Intel's… ARM-based XScale I/O processors (IOPs), and for several IOP-based devices.

(Click for larger view of Thecus N2100)

Michlmayr writes:

Release candidate 2 of Debian's installer has been released and it offers support for a new embedded platform, Intel's I/O processor (IOP) line, which is based on their XScale core. The IOP series of chips is a particularly interesting platform to run Debian, since it has a focus on storage and therefore usually offers good disk storage, such as SATA, unlike many embedded systems.

Debian currently supports two Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices based on an IOP chip: IO-Data's GLAN Tank and the Thecus YES Box N2100. The Thecus N2100, in particular, is a good option for embedded developers. It features a 600 MHz IOP 80219 CPU, two SATA slots, and has a standard DDR400 slot (up to 512 MB of RAM are currently supported). The Thecus device is also newsworthy because the company producing it has supported the effort to port Debian. For example, they recently made a new version of their firmware available that enables telnet in RedBoot. This gives users a rescue option in case something goes wrong with the installation of Debian.

Debian's installer is shipped as a “firmware upgrade” for the N2100 device. After users install the firmware file from Debian, they will be able to connect to the box via SSH and perform an installation. Debian will be installed on the SATA disk and the kernel and ramdisk are automatically written to flash. Debian on the Thecus N2100 is already being used by ADS [story] and Nokia for ARM development.

Debian intends to support more IOP based devices in the future, and there is work in progress to add support for [Intel's new IOP 13xx line, which offers up to two cores. Intel has donated IQ81342EX boards, a development board for Intel's IOP341, and IOP342 storage processors, to kernel hacker Lennert Buytenhek and Debian developer Martin Michlmayr to support this effort.

The previous Etch Installer release candidate added support for LinkSys's NSLU2, based on an IXP4xx processor. Other ARM-based devices that should be well-supported under Etch include two models based on the same hardware design as the Thecus: Allnet's ALL6500, and Evesham's SilverSTOR M-Box.


More details about the Etch Installer Release Candidate 2, including downloadable images, can be found here. More details about installing Debian on IOP-based devices can be found on Michlemayr's website, here.

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