Project sonoko, x11 xterm home-made

Grant Taylor cctalk at
Thu Dec 20 16:52:39 CST 2018

On 12/20/2018 01:00 PM, Carlo Pisani wrote:
> several reasons; we also use a similar board for a NAS, but basically, 
> we like this board for the PCI bus, and for the JTAG


> we happen to have a BDI1000 JTAG ICE with a valid license for professional 
> debugging software for the PPC/405, so it's really nice for us

That sounds like a compelling reason to use board(s) compatible with the 

> dunno. For us it's useful, and it's a need since we really need three 
> LCDs connected to two nodes through a KVM in both dual screens and 
> Xinerama setup (it depends on the context). These two PowerPC nodes 
> are also connected to a Routerboard (bought yesterday), thus the whole 
> system is able to bootstrap, well balanced on its load, able to load 
> its services and it's also independent of everything else on the lan.


> PowerPC boards are not able to bootstrap from a harddrive/pendrive 
> (the kernel's driver for the pATA chip is bugged and doesn't work, 
> the firmware is ... theoretically able to load a raw file from a 
> pATA device), they need to bootstrap from the lan, and the Routerboard is 
> able to provide a good tftpbootp server plus other services to accomplish 
> the task.


What is the native OS, storage, and boot method for this board?  It 
sounds like you might be purposing it for your own desires with a close 
but not perfect match.

> We are also developing a RFID card to unlock/lock the machine (still 
> experimental, and we are going to use an old 68HC11 board for this ... 
> it's 80s technology)

Are you developing your own technology?  Or are you re-using standard 
technology that's been around for a while?

I think Sun (and others) had X terminals that had smart card slots in 
them.  This sounds functionally quite similar, just a few substitutions.

> It's really a funny project made recycling old parts, and an old Apple 
> PowerMac chassis. We also really like manually making parts, without a 
> 3D printer. If you look at parts for the PSU, they were manually made 
> by engraving the plastic! This is part of the fun :D

Fair enough.

> anyway, I believe the system can be replicated with modern technology, 
> say ... two or three RPIs in a modern case made by a 3D printer.


That in and of itself does not make what you're doing bad or a waste of 

IMHO if you're having fun (other than injuries), learning, reducing 
ewaste by reusing things you have, well that all sounds good to me.

> well, we have a job in avionics, where PPC boards are used. We bought 
> years ago a couple of boards from Newark and they were 1900 euro each, 
> plus fees and S/H (FeDex).

Wow.  Based on the conversion that I just did, those weren't anywhere 
near inexpensive.

> Two years ago, I sold the last "codename eBony" (PowerPC460) couple of 
> boards to a company in China for a super discount (500 euro both/second 
> hand, instead of 1600 each/brand new). The DHT-boards that we are using 
> are derived from a similar expensive board. There was a company in 2001 
> who made them, but ... it's difficult to find one nowadays. We had 2 
> little DTH boards in stock, and we decided to use for a personal project 
> since they are definitively EOL once and forever and we don't want to 
> support them in 2019.

Sounds like salvage parts to play with to me.

> Again, the RPI is the super cheap choice since it's easy to be found 
> (e.g. you can buy from RS, Mouser, et al), and it only costs around 
> 30 euro.


> RPI is USB driven, not a problem, modern keyboards and mouses are USB, 
> our is PS/2 but there are USB-to-PS/2 adapter for 5-10 Euro; The RPI 
> is not VGA, it's HDMI, but yet again it's not a problem, there are VGA 
> adapters (HDMI to VGA) for the RPI and VGA modules for the expansion 
> port. This can be evaluated.


> For a classic design (the 90s and 2000s design), we want to use VGA LCDs, 
> VGA KVM, and PCI_VGA video adapters.

Fair enough.

> yup, we are alone. I have already posted on the Linux mail-list, still 
> no answer.

/Which/ Linux mailing list.  There are *many*.

> Not a problem, it simply requires more time.


I was sort of asking because part of me would like to build something 
that looks like a DEC vt420 with a look alike (but physically smaller) 
case with an LCD (?) display.  I've thought about running a Pi and 
running XTerm.  But that's a pipe dream project for some other time.

Grant. . . .
unix || die

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