Tag Archives: linux


Perverse geekery

Have you ever run NetBSD/x86 on qemu in Linux on your PS3? Don’t bother, it’s not that cool.


NDS for handheld computing?

I’ve got a bit of an itch again these days to find a good handheld computer that I can write software for. I have a couple PalmOS things, but developing for PalmOS is not great, from what I can tell.

I happened to be playing around with my Nintendo DS these days, too, and thought, hey, maybe it’s a decent little platform. It does have some things going for it.

However, it’s not really that hot, and there’s considerable difficulty in developing for it, or even getting to the point where you can run what you write. There’s that homebrew excitement associated with it, but that’s not really that valuable to me.

Anyway, I did some research on what I might do if I did try to get homebrew development going on the DS, and I figured I’d blog it in case someone might care. This isn’t going to be a substitute for your own research, but maybe some good pointers for where to start. It can be a bit difficult to figure this stuff out, partly because of the intersection with the cartridge piracy crowd (the same hardware tech is needed for both piracy and homebrew).

[Here’s a link to Wikipedia’s Nintendo DS Homebrew entry. I should have looked there earlier; that is probably a better starting place than anything mentioned in this post.]

I think what I’d do is get a Supercard Lite/MicroSD, a Passcard 3, and an SD card.

The nice things about that combo are:

  • doesn’t stick out of the case (the Supercard is a GBA cart, but made to fit just like that dummy cart does on the Lite)
  • adds 32MB RAM (which may not be useful in general, but is useful for DSLinux)
  • seems to be well-supported in terms of development tools/libraries, including DSLinux.
  • uses standard flash memory

The bad thing is that it needs the three pieces, which makes it more complex and costly (about $100)

There are a few “Slot 1” solutions, I think Supercard DS (One) looks like the best one there. Again, uses MicroSD for flash, but is more straightforward and cheaper. Just doesn’t give you the extra RAM. (People say that it’s impossible to extend the RAM with a Slot 1 solution). The DS-Xtreme looks kinda good, partly because it seems to have good support from the designers. But it’s pretty new, and it only has the built-in flash, and it doesn’t have the RAM.

Anyway, like I said, I’m probably not going to act on any of this, so the quality of my research may reflect a lack of investment.

One thing I found out today that’s pretty cool is that it seems like the homebrew development environments support an OpenGL-alike interface for graphics. I was also impressed by all the work that’s going on to support homebrew on the various consoles. It’s a weird pursuit, in a way, but also kinda neat.

Here are some links that seem useful:

Unrelated to DS, here’s one of the handheld Linux boxes out there that’s pretty cool. Far better hardware than a DS, except maybe in 3D, and Linux is completely supported by the manufacturer. ‘course, it costs $400.


Good business model

This is kinda cute. The One Laptop Per Child project is talking about selling the laptops to the public with a “buy 2, get 1” model. I’ll probably buy one, though more for the design/geek factor than for philanthropic reasons.



So, you ever decide to upgrade the storage on your living-room server, buy a hard drive, realize that the hard drive is SATA, which means it won’t work on your server, then figure, “hey, I have SATA on my desktop, might as well try that out”, then realize that your SATA is also RAID-0 capable so you might as well buy another drive and take advantage of that, only to find out after a couple experiments that it’s really not RAID but FakeRAID, and after you find a disk-clone utility that works with FakeRAID, you get the partitions cloned, but now GRUB won’t load due to some error that you don’t understand, so you reinstall the Windows MBR just to see that Windows will at least boot, but you can’t find the XP CD any more so you have to find some random MBR utility on the web and hope it works, but it does indeed work and Windows now boots, but of course Linux doesn’t because neither GRUB nor your installed kernel can deal with FakeRAID, and you finally get GRUB reinstalled but it still gives the error, which is number 18 which turns out to mean that GRUB can’t address your Linux partition through the BIOS, so you figure you might as well try updating the BIOS even though that seems unlikely to fix the problem, and since you don’t have a real floppy in the system and the BIOS makers haven’t graduated into the 19th century or whenever this is and they don’t make a CD-bootable flasher, you have to get the USB floppy from your laptop, make a flash floppy, make a bootable CD from the floppy, boot it only to find that you downloaded the wrong BIOS, repeat that process twice more until you do get the right BIOS, which then stuns you by actually fixing the problem, so now GRUB boots and can get you back into Windows but you still need to get dmraid installed in your initrd in your Linux kernel so you can boot that, which requires that you find a rescue CD that supports dmraid so you can even get to your Linux partition to do the initrd thing, after which you find an article that explains how to install dmraid in initrd, which thankfully works and now you finally are back to the point that everything works again, and it’s kinda cool?

I just did.