gumstix — Round Two

Assembled gumstix computer

The score is gumstix 1, Mic 0.  I bricked it in the first round.  Last week I plugged it in again after getting it back from the factory with the latest filesystem installed on it.  I booted it up and tried the audio programs.  There weren’t any there?  I started looking around and found that they had put the old (really old filesystem back on it).  I fired off an email to them about it.  I got a very quick but not committed response.  I am back  to where I was in January!

These computers do not come with any documentation.  In fact they don’t come with anything including a packing list.  All of the software, documentation, etc. is on the internet in the form of wikis or forums/mailing lists.  OK.  I signed up for the mailing list…you get a lot of mail.  I put out my question and got two responses, both assumed that I had all the software installed and running…newer software.  One suggested that I upgrade to the new development software that I had tried last month.  I am not ready to do that again yet.

While I was waiting for responses and trying to figure out what to do, I decided to try to get the encryption set up on the wireless configuration so it would take an ip address from my router.  With a little searching on the web and reading man files on my Ubuntu machine, I got the gumstix set up…it is very cool when you turn it on to see the wireless connection LED flicker and then stay on as it connects to the router.  Now I can log into the gumstix from my notebook or desktop computer via the wireless connection.

I downloaded the old “buildroot” and started it.  I thought I understood that I should build the revision that came on my original board and that is apparently what the factory did.  It worked as it was supposed to and built a new filesystem.  Then I went in and added the audio packages I wanted and built those.  I transferred the new filesystem to the gumstix, did all of the filesize and CRC32 comparisons to make sure nothing had been corrupted in the file transfer, committed it to the flash memory, and rebooted.  It worked!

Up to a point.  There was still no audio capability.  I have made changes based on things I found in the mailing list archives, built successively newer revisions, and flashed several rebuilt filesystems to the gumstix.  Still no audio.  I have the last revision built but I haven’t flashed it yet.  If that doesn’t work then I may have to try to flash the uboot bootloader again…that is what bricked it before.

My older son was here for a visit last week.  After watching it boot up he noticed that there was a web server running on it.  I was thinking about audio and didn’t think about the implications of a web server.  Last night before I went to bed I booted the little computer up and browsed to it with Internet Explorer from my Windows Vista desktop machine.  Sure enough.  A little web page came up, welcoming me to my gumstix.  I can write web based applications for it!

These things are just very cool; I’m having more fun with it all of the time.  When you read about the things other people are trying to do with them, my application looks pretty simple.  Lots of robotics and graphics applications.

I’m giving myself a point for getting the wifi and buildroot working.  Gumstix 1, Mic 1.  Now if I can just get the audio working…

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