Title Webpal Webserver
Status Completed
Start Date 6-2003
End Date 5-2004

Linux on the Webpal


The Webpal is a set-top box that was made by Newcom. After Newcom went out of business, the Webpal became very cheap to buy-you can find them for about $17 including shipping. The system is based on a Cirrus Logic ARM processor running at 40MHz. It is much like a PC with an ISA slot, and IDE,VGA,Parallel, and PS/2 ports, plus TV output.

Linux can be installed on the Webpal, which allows it to be used as a thin-client or webserver. In order to get Linux on the Webpal, the Linux kernel must be written onto the flash SIMM. One of the designers of the Webpal released the information that there is a way to program the flash without even removing the SIMM. To do this, you need to turn the Webpal on with SW2 pushed down, and then release the switch. Then the red LED will turn on and the flash can be programmed through the serial port on J11. There are some problems to overcome with the serial port. First of all, there is no header populating the connection for it. Worse, the holes on the breadboard are filled with solder. The second problem is that the serial port is at TTL levels, so it won't interface with a standard PC serial port. However, the MAX232, can fix this by changing the voltage levels. After building a small adapter with a connector to the header and a connector to a DB9 serial port, the Webpal is ready to interface with the computer. The Webpal is able to be flashed through the serial port due to its implementation of the ARM remote debug protcol. The host can interface with this using gdb. For step-by-step instructions for programming the flash SIMM, see Bill Danielson's site: http://webpal.bigbrd.com


  • Webpal Unit ($17 including shipping)
  • Kingston KTE20T ISA Network Card ($10 including shipping)
  • CF-IDE Adapter from VME Systems ($25 including shipping)
  • 256MB Compact Flash card ($35 from Staples)
  • 16MB RAM SIMM (free - from old computer)

To chat about the webpal: in IRC: /servchan irc.freenode.net 6667 #elinux



  • Design a new serial adapter so that the X10 firecracker works
  • Network-controllable Lab Equipment such as Voltage Source
  • Parallel port LCD status display with server stats
  • Could try to make a PCB with a 40pin PIC to make the IR KB a PS2
  • Keyboard uses a Philips P80CL51 Low Voltage 8bit microcontroller with UART
  • Kingston KNE20T backplate screws on, could replace with plate that has a serial port hole.

To cross-compile bottlerocket for the ARM processor, use:
make CC="arm-linux-gcc"