Adding additional I²C sensors to ALIX.3D3

J8: SMBus

J8: SMBus

The manual of the ALIX.3D3 board mentions a lot of pin descriptions of all pin headers on the board. J8 interfaces the SMBus of the AMD CS5536 Geode companion (which is compatible to I²C if bus speed is below 100kHz, see Maxim’s Appnote for detailed comparison). So why not add additional I²C sensors. As an example I connected an LM75 temperature sensor.

First of all we need to add some pin headers to J8 found on board next to the USB port. Continue reading

Updating BIOS on ALIX.3D3 within Linux

Usually BIOS updating means booting DOS and running a proprietary tool from the board vendor. A few days ago, coreboot's flashrom 0.9 has realeased. It's an open-source tool which supports program almost all flash chips used on x86 mainboards. Its compatibility list includes Geode™ CS5530/A, which can be found on the ALIX.3D3 board. So why not using flashrom to update ALIX.3D3 BIOS.

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Framebuffer on ALIX.3D3

ALIX.3D3 booting

ALIX.3D3 booting

In contrary to most ALIX devices, the ALIX.3D3 has an integrated VGA controller and an Award BIOS (tinyBIOS doesn't support VGA), so why not attach a monitor.

Standard text mode is supported by default (and faster than graphical mode), but if you wish to change resolution, add a boot logo or even want to use a graphical boot screen like splashutils a framebuffer device is needed.

lspci lists the integrated VGA controller of the AMD Geode LX800 CPU as the video device:

00:01.1 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Geode LX Video

Luckily the linux kernel supports this device directly and so no VESA framebuffer is needed. Continue reading

Installing Gentoo on ALIX.3D3

When I ordered the ALIX.3D3 board I thought installing Gentoo on this should be a piece of cake, but finally there were some stumbling blocks and that's why I want to summarize how I got gentoo running.

First of all, I recommend installing Gentoo on a normal desktop to get to know the installing process, which is a bit different from graphical installers of mainstream distros. The Gentoo Handbook is a great documentation how this done.

To install gentoo, you have to boot a minimal or "rescue" linux usually from cd/dvd. I tried to convice the bios to boot from a usb cd-rom drive, but I hadn't any success. Continue reading