Intro, first steps

Ok, so what is a WT300-cluster? An Acer WT300 is a nice little box, meant as a Windows-terminal.

It's completely passive and contains a Geode X86-like processor at 200MHz, an SDRAM-slot, a memory chip and peripherials like a serial port and integrated video. In the box, integrated on the motherboard, is a 256K BIOS-chip and an 8MB Disk-On-Chip-device. The WT stands for Windows Terminal, and that's what these devices were meant to do: once turned on, they boot into a stripped version of WindowsCE and you can then select a RDP/Citrix-server to connect to. You then get the desktop of that server on your screen and can access it just like a normal PC.

People who've read more articles on this site might have noticed that I'm not such a Windows-person: I routinely kick it off machines and devices in favor of Linux. I decided to do that here too.

First thing that had to go was the BIOS. While the terminal was designed as an X86-compatible PC, the firmware wasn't: all the BIOS could do is initialize WinCE from the DiskOnChip. An Internet search revealed that nobody had ran Linux on this device yet, but the chipset istelf was supported by LinuxBIOS, which is a free implementation of a BIOS capable of loading, amongst others, Linux.

I found a board that matched the WT300 for most of the peripherials, and compiled a ROM image. Erm, now how to get that image into the ROM of the device? WinCE didn't give me any possibilities to upload it, and the Windows-tool Acer provided for upgrades wasn't any good either. Ok, small setback: I had to build a flash-programmer. Long story (and lotsa wires) later, I made myself one from old parts and microcontroller code I had lying around.:

From the outside it looks OK...

...but on the inside it looks like spaghetti :) It does work OK, however, albeit a tad slow.

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