I've been playing around on and off for the last few years with these
8363 thin clients made by IBM. They are really brilliant machines and
are powerful enough to use either diskless (running local apps via NFS),
as thin clients, or as standalone devices (CF).
They are also x86 (Cyrix chipset) with a Geode VGA. They have VGA out,
sound out, mic in, 2 USB and a NIC. It also has a built in CF card that
is seen as hda when used.
More info can be found here:
However an issue with them is that the bios that is supplied with them
is annoying to say the least. It does not support any boot loaders
(lilo/grup etc...) but instead loads up an elf uncompressed kernel. For
reasons I'm not yet sure, the kernel (2.4) needs to be compiled by gcc
2.95, and requires various patches to get it to work. I've never got 2.6
working, and never got even 2.4 working with a compiler other than gcc 2.95.
However, with the old kernel, I've gotten a pile of these going and they
are fantastic. They can play mp3's, play video, and as I test I setup 20
of them with distcc and used them to assist in compiles. Also they are
extremely low voltage and could possibly run in a car from the cigarette
I believe that this device is a perfect candidate for LinuxBios. You can
pick them up dirt cheap (~$10) from ebay, and in fact there are LOTS of
these just floating around, and a decent bios that will allow one the
flexibility of loading a newer kernel would be great. You can run them
diskless as I mentioned before or can install to CF, with the CF seen as
The bios is a 32ping socketed PLCC AM29F040B.
I was wondering if anyone has tried LinuxBios on this and what the
results were? Would anyone be willing to get it going? I would be happy
to package one of these up, with a working linux distro on its internal
CF and mail it (to keep) if it would help. Ideally it would be great if
it was possible to be able to boot via NFS (PXE would be brilliant) and
also have the option of direct from the internal CF.