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The Intel Assabet (SA-1110 evaluation) board
Please see:
Also some notes from John G Dorsey <>:
Building the kernel
To build the kernel with current defaults:
make assabet_config
make oldconfig
make zImage
The resulting kernel image should be available in linux/arch/arm/boot/zImage.
Installing a bootloader
A couple of bootloaders able to boot Linux on Assabet are available:
BLOB is a bootloader used within the LART project. Some contributed
patches were merged into BLOB to add support for Assabet.
Compaq's Bootldr + John Dorsey's patch for Assabet support
Bootldr is the bootloader developed by Compaq for the iPAQ Pocket PC.
John Dorsey has produced add-on patches to add support for Assabet and
the JFFS filesystem.
RedBoot (
RedBoot is a bootloader developed by Red Hat based on the eCos RTOS
hardware abstraction layer. It supports Assabet amongst many other
hardware platforms.
RedBoot is currently the recommended choice since it's the only one to have
networking support, and is the most actively maintained.
Brief examples on how to boot Linux with RedBoot are shown below. But first
you need to have RedBoot installed in your flash memory. A known to work
precompiled RedBoot binary is available from the following location:
Look for redboot-assabet*.tgz. Some installation infos are provided in
Initial RedBoot configuration
The commands used here are explained in The RedBoot User's Guide available
on-line at
Please refer to it for explanations.
If you have a CF network card (my Assabet kit contained a CF+ LP-E from
Socket Communications Inc.), you should strongly consider using it for TFTP
file transfers. You must insert it before RedBoot runs since it can't detect
it dynamically.
To initialize the flash directory:
fis init -f
To initialize the non-volatile settings, like whether you want to use BOOTP or
a static IP address, etc, use this command:
fconfig -i
Writing a kernel image into flash
First, the kernel image must be loaded into RAM. If you have the zImage file
available on a TFTP server:
load zImage -r -b 0x100000
If you rather want to use Y-Modem upload over the serial port:
load -m ymodem -r -b 0x100000
To write it to flash:
fis create "Linux kernel" -b 0x100000 -l 0xc0000
Booting the kernel
The kernel still requires a filesystem to boot. A ramdisk image can be loaded
as follows:
load ramdisk_image.gz -r -b 0x800000
Again, Y-Modem upload can be used instead of TFTP by replacing the file name
by '-y ymodem'.
Now the kernel can be retrieved from flash like this:
fis load "Linux kernel"
or loaded as described previously. To boot the kernel:
exec -b 0x100000 -l 0xc0000
The ramdisk image could be stored into flash as well, but there are better
solutions for on-flash filesystems as mentioned below.
Using JFFS2
Using JFFS2 (the Second Journalling Flash File System) is probably the most
convenient way to store a writable filesystem into flash. JFFS2 is used in
conjunction with the MTD layer which is responsible for low-level flash
management. More information on the Linux MTD can be found on-line at: A JFFS howto with some infos about
creating JFFS/JFFS2 images is available from the same site.
For instance, a sample JFFS2 image can be retrieved from the same FTP sites
mentioned below for the precompiled RedBoot image.
To load this file:
load sample_img.jffs2 -r -b 0x100000
The result should look like:
RedBoot> load sample_img.jffs2 -r -b 0x100000
Raw file loaded 0x00100000-0x00377424
Now we must know the size of the unallocated flash:
fis free
RedBoot> fis free
0x500E0000 .. 0x503C0000
The values above may be different depending on the size of the filesystem and
the type of flash. See their usage below as an example and take care of
substituting yours appropriately.
We must determine some values:
size of unallocated flash: 0x503c0000 - 0x500e0000 = 0x2e0000
size of the filesystem image: 0x00377424 - 0x00100000 = 0x277424
We want to fit the filesystem image of course, but we also want to give it all
the remaining flash space as well. To write it:
fis unlock -f 0x500E0000 -l 0x2e0000
fis erase -f 0x500E0000 -l 0x2e0000
fis write -b 0x100000 -l 0x277424 -f 0x500E0000
fis create "JFFS2" -n -f 0x500E0000 -l 0x2e0000
Now the filesystem is associated to a MTD "partition" once Linux has discovered
what they are in the boot process. From Redboot, the 'fis list' command
displays them:
RedBoot> fis list
Name FLASH addr Mem addr Length Entry point
RedBoot 0x50000000 0x50000000 0x00020000 0x00000000
RedBoot config 0x503C0000 0x503C0000 0x00020000 0x00000000
FIS directory 0x503E0000 0x503E0000 0x00020000 0x00000000
Linux kernel 0x50020000 0x00100000 0x000C0000 0x00000000
JFFS2 0x500E0000 0x500E0000 0x002E0000 0x00000000
However Linux should display something like:
SA1100 flash: probing 32-bit flash bus
SA1100 flash: Found 2 x16 devices at 0x0 in 32-bit mode
Using RedBoot partition definition
Creating 5 MTD partitions on "SA1100 flash":
0x00000000-0x00020000 : "RedBoot"
0x00020000-0x000e0000 : "Linux kernel"
0x000e0000-0x003c0000 : "JFFS2"
0x003c0000-0x003e0000 : "RedBoot config"
0x003e0000-0x00400000 : "FIS directory"
What's important here is the position of the partition we are interested in,
which is the third one. Within Linux, this correspond to /dev/mtdblock2.
Therefore to boot Linux with the kernel and its root filesystem in flash, we
need this RedBoot command:
fis load "Linux kernel"
exec -b 0x100000 -l 0xc0000 -c "root=/dev/mtdblock2"
Of course other filesystems than JFFS might be used, like cramfs for example.
You might want to boot with a root filesystem over NFS, etc. It is also
possible, and sometimes more convenient, to flash a filesystem directly from
within Linux while booted from a ramdisk or NFS. The Linux MTD repository has
many tools to deal with flash memory as well, to erase it for example. JFFS2
can then be mounted directly on a freshly erased partition and files can be
copied over directly. Etc...
RedBoot scripting
All the commands above aren't so useful if they have to be typed in every
time the Assabet is rebooted. Therefore it's possible to automatize the boot
process using RedBoot's scripting capability.
For example, I use this to boot Linux with both the kernel and the ramdisk
images retrieved from a TFTP server on the network:
RedBoot> fconfig
Run script at boot: false true
Boot script:
Enter script, terminate with empty line
>> load zImage -r -b 0x100000
>> load ramdisk_ks.gz -r -b 0x800000
>> exec -b 0x100000 -l 0xc0000
Boot script timeout (1000ms resolution): 3
Use BOOTP for network configuration: true
GDB connection port: 9000
Network debug at boot time: false
Update RedBoot non-volatile configuration - are you sure (y/n)? y
Then, rebooting the Assabet is just a matter of waiting for the login prompt.
Nicolas Pitre
June 12, 2001
Status of peripherals in -rmk tree (updated 14/10/2001)
Serial ports:
Radio: TX, RX, CTS, DSR, DCD, RI
PM: Not tested.
PM: Not tested.
I2C: Implemented, not fully tested.
L3: Fully tested, pass.
PM: Not tested.
LCD: Fully tested. PM
(LCD doesn't like being blanked with
neponset connected)
Video out: Not fully
Playback: Fully tested, pass.
Record: Implemented, not tested.
PM: Not tested.
Audio play: Implemented, not heavily tested.
Audio rec: Implemented, not heavily tested.
Telco audio play: Implemented, not heavily tested.
Telco audio rec: Implemented, not heavily tested.
POTS control: No
Touchscreen: Yes
PM: Not tested.
LPE: Fully tested, pass.
SIR: Fully tested, pass.
FIR: Fully tested, pass.
PM: Not tested.
Serial ports:
PM: Not tested.
USB: Implemented, not heavily tested.
PCMCIA: Implemented, not heavily tested.
PM: Not tested.
CF: Implemented, not heavily tested.
PM: Not tested.
More stuff can be found in the -np (Nicolas Pitre's) tree.