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Tadpole Pulsar: Firmware 


 


 

 



BIOS

On powering up, the Pulsar just displays a purple screen with the word 'loading' filling it which is subsequently replaced by the running on-board firmware. The usual keys of DEL, F2, F10, F12 etc did nothing.

AMI BIOS sticker However, lurking under the SODIMM, was a conventional AMIBIOS copyright sticker which confirmed my belief (hope?) that there was a conventional BIOS inside. Running through numerous 'CTL/ALT/DEL then press-a-key' cycles revealed that the D key gets you into the BIOS.

Pulsar Setup main BIOS screen

Although the Pulsar is fitted with a 1GB RAM module the BIOS is only reporting 512MB of RAM present. This is because elsewhere the amount of memory set aside for the frame buffer is set to 512MB. I disabled the "Show custom logo" to get the more usual boot screen shown below. (I like the EVALUATION COPY, NOT FOR SALE towards the bottom of the screen!)

Pulsar Bios Boot screen

At this time I had removed the SATA DOM and there was a pen drive plugged into the front of the Pulsar.

Moving to look at the boot options I found that there was only one....

Pulsar Bios Boot options

...the strangely named ROM FLOPPY DRIVE.

At this point I tried a small experiment:

Pulsar Bios Boot error 17 Booting with no DOM and no pen drive resulted in 'Boot failure error code 17'

Pulsar Bios Boot error 4 Booting with no DOM and a Linux FAT16 formatted pen drive resulted in 'Boot failure error code 4'

As an experiment I used the Linux 'dd' command (on another machine) to copy the Pulsar SATA DOM across to a pen drive. With the pen drive then inserted in one of the USB ports the Pulsar happily loaded its own firmware from that pen drive and ran as before. This shows it will boot from a pen drive, the only problem is sorting out how to format/present the alternative code we would like it to run.

SATA DOM Format

I moved the SATA DOM over to another machine to have a look at what was there. Fdisk reported:

Disk /dev/sdb: 512 MB, 512483328 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 62 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks  Id System
/dev/sdb1               1          58      465884+  6 FAT16
/dev/sdb2              59          62       32130   6 FAT16

..and directory listings showed:

total 47320
drwxrwxrwx    2 root     root         16384 Jan  1  1970 .
drwxrwxr-x    7 root     staff          140 Jun  6 17:12 ..
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       2778120 May 18  2036 0base.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root           216 May 18  2036 0bootarg.ime
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       9449224 May 18  2036 0browser.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       1570840 May 18  2036 0client.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       1320728 May 18  2036 0initrd.ime
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root          5965 May 18  2036 0meteor.bom
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root         12968 May 18  2036 0misc.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       1145672 May 18  2036 0network.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       2295864 May 18  2036 0nvidia.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       2476152 May 18  2036 0os.ime
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root        588856 May 18  2036 0oss.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root          1144 May 18  2036 0platfrm.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root        235960 May 18  2036 0support.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       2261896 May 18  2036 0video.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       2778120 May 18  2036 1base.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root           216 May 18  2036 1bootarg.ime
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       9449224 May 18  2036 1browser.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       1570840 May 18  2036 1client.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       1320728 May 18  2036 1initrd.ime
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root          5965 May 18  2036 1meteor.bom
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root         12968 May 18  2036 1misc.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       1145672 May 18  2036 1network.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       2295864 May 18  2036 1nvidia.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       2476152 May 18  2036 1os.ime
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root        588856 May 18  2036 1oss.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root          1144 May 18  2036 1platfrm.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root        235960 May 18  2036 1support.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       2261896 May 18  2036 1video.tle
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root            12 May 18  2036 factory.conf
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root            80 May 18  2036 features
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root           384 May 18  2036 licence

total 16400
drwxrwxrwx    2 root     root         16384 Jan  1  1970 .
drwxrwxr-x    7 root     staff          140 Jun  6 17:12 ..
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       4194304 May 18  2036 0certs.img
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       4194304 May 18  2036 0meteor.cfg
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       4194304 May 18  2036 1certs.img
-rwxrwxrwx    1 root     root       4194304 May 18  2036 1meteor.cfg

Firmware

The standard firmware is all about interacting with SUN servers. I have no interest in this. If you are, you can find the manuals on the Flextronics website.

 


Any comments? email me.    Last update June 2014