PC Engines ALIX.2

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Bird's view on the ALIX.2d13

It's an IBM-compatible i368 computer running on 7–18 Volt / 3–6 Watt.

Features[edit]

  • CPU: 500 MHz AMD Geode LX800
  • RAM: 256 MB DDR DRAM
  • SSD: CompactFlash socket
  • HDD: 44-pin ATAPI/IDE
  • Power: DC jack or passive POE, 7–18 Volt / 3–6 Watt
  • Watchdog: A Watchdog timer, built into the CS5536 chip, can reboot the system in case of falure.
  • LAN: Three independent 10/100 Mbps Ethernet channels (Via VT6105M 10/100)
  • Size: 153mm x 160mm x 19mm — 6 x 6¼" x ¾" (PCB is 6" x 6")
  • BIOS: tinyBIOS (free/open source, except for some driver modules.)
  • LED: Three green front panel LEDs
  • Reset Switch: 1 freely programmable push button
  • Watchdog: A Watchdog timer, built into the CS5536 chip, can reboot the system in case of falure.
  • Cryptography: Hardware acceleration for cryptography

External connectors[edit]

  • COM: 9-pin serial port
  • USB: Two USB 2.0 ports (on the same hub?)
  • LAN: Three 8P8C connectors for 100BASE-TX fast Ethernet with 2 LEDs each (passive POE on LAN1 / J3)
  • Power: DC jack −C•+ (5.7mm hole, 2.1mm center pin)

Internal connectors[edit]

  • J8 miniPCI slot
  • J9 44-pin ATAPI/IDE port (for 2.5" HDD)
  • J10 CompactFlash socket
  • J11 LPC bus
  • J12 extra COM2 serial port (only 3.3V/TxD/RxD/GND no handshake)
  • J13 I²C bus
  • J19 Two extra USB 2.0 ports

Not populated connectors[edit]

  • J7 extra miniPCI slot
  • J14 extra serial port in DCE mode? (RxD = send)
  • J15 Buzzer BU1 or GPIO
  • J18 DC power 7–18 Volt

Serial communication[edit]

When you power up the ALIX.2 for the first time without a CompactFlash card inserted and connect a PC to the serial port (COM1) of the ALIX with a null-modem, you need to use the default settings:

  • baud: 38400 kbps
  • data bits: 8
  • parity : none
  • stop bits: 1

Then you will get the following message:

PC Engines ALIX.2 v0.99h
640 KB Base Memory

15360
31744
48128
64512
80896
97280
113664
130048
146432
162816
179200
195584
211968
228352
244736
261120 KB Extended Memory

01F0 - no drive found ! 
No boot device available, press Enter to continue.

Enter the BIOS settings[edit]

To enter the BIOS you need to press the S-key, while the BIOS counts the memory. (Be fast!)

The BIOS will prompt you like this:

BIOS setup:

(9) 9600 baud (2) 19200 baud *3* 38400 baud (5) 57600 baud (1) 115200 baud
*C* CHS mode (L) LBA mode (W) HDD wait (V) HDD slave (U) UDMA enable
(M) MFGPT workaround
(P) late PCI init
*R* Serial console enable 
(E) PXE boot enable 
(X) Xmodem upload 

(Q) Quit

Software installation[edit]

Install Debian GNU/Linux (or GNU/FreeBSD)[edit]

Preboot eXecution Environment (PXE)[edit]

To boot the ALIX via network, you need to activate the PXE option in the tinyBIOS. Therefore press the E key to activate that option in the tinyBIOS menu. Read the above to understand how to get to the tinyBIOS menu. After activating the PXE option, the response from the tinyBIOS menu should somehow look like this:

BIOS setup:

(9) 9600 baud (2) 19200 baud *3* 38400 baud (5) 57600 baud (1) 115200 baud
*C* CHS mode (L) LBA mode (W) HDD wait (V) HDD slave (U) UDMA enable
(M) MFGPT workaround
(P) late PCI init
*R* Serial console enable 
*E* PXE boot enable 
(X) Xmodem upload 

(Q) Quit

The stars around the *E* are important!

Now the ALIX is ready to receive an IP address from a DHCP server and then it will download the installation files from a TFTP server. Now you can use (for example) a Debian GNU/Linux computer to work as a DHCP and TFTP server. How to set up such a server for the ALIX is explained here: PXE with serial console

Links[edit]