Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes

Topics On Multimedia Technology and Reverse Engineering



December 11th, 2008 by Multimedia Mike

I have an interest in testing FFmpeg on a wide diversity of platforms via FATE. Pursuant to another post of non-x86 architectures, I learned that there are MIPS-based Linux laptops in the works.

I learned that one such laptop is the HiVision miniNote. Another is the Skytone Alpha-400. I have also learned that they are pretty much the same and that they go by other names depending on the regions in which they are marketed. However, the Skytone Alpha-400 is something I could order today if I wanted to ( sells the MIPS Alpha-400 machines). And it’s also useful to note that the latest incarnation of the series uses Intel XScale CPUs rather than MIPS derivatives.

Unfortunately, the Alpha-400 and related laptops really aren’t made for general hacking. Allegedly, someone in .nl has figured out how to get a root prompt, but it would require knowing Netherlish to decode the instructions.

In the course of the previous discussion, I also learned of the Gdium which features a slightly more powerful MIPS CPU. This might make a better platform for FATE testing. There isn’t much information on their site about the possibility of purchasing one, but there is a blog post about their desire to attract open source developers. Hey! I’m attracted! Perhaps if someone knew someone involved with these products, those people would be interested in performing automated QA for FATE?

Meanwhile, I am tweaking the core FATE script to support cross compiling and remote execution of tests. Think of it as phase 2.

Posted in FATE Server | 7 Comments »

7 Responses

  1. Martin Lindhe Says:

    About the .nl website, give google translate a try ;)

  2. Diego "Flameeyes" Pettenò Says:

    I’m not sure if it’s the Alpha 400, but a Skytone-based laptop is being sold by CnM LifeStyle in the UK under the name “CnM miniBook”. If you follow my blog you might remember it.

    They are most likely still violating GPL, and they haven’t made much progress on the issue, to the point I contacted gpl-violations already.

    Sincerely, I’m tempted to get one of them just to assess the content of the firmware and be able to actually contact all the various involved parties. Just I didn’t have much time for multimedia work lately with work going on.

    Now, I sincerely didn’t know it goes under so many names like the Wikipedia article cites.. I wonder how many of those distributors are violating GPL.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Getting root on the Alpha 400 is as simple as editing /etc/inittab to enable a shell, or starting telnetd from /etc/init.d/rcS.

  4. Multimedia Mike Says:

    Thanks for the root tip. So the default user on the Alpha 400 runs with root privileges anyway?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, the default user is root.

  6. Multimedia Mike Says:

    Thanks again. Now, do you have any intelligence on how easy it is to compile for the machine? I can’t imagine it comes with a toolchain, nor that it would be useful to have one installed (too slow to do anything). Cross-compiling seems like the route for this one.

  7. Mans Says:

    Speaking of MIPS, does anyone know of an affordable, hackable gadget/devboard with a MIPS 24Ke, 74K or other core with the DSP extensions?