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Another dose of cute kitten

Exactly what the title says.

Anna being, well, Anna...


Reviving the Beagleboard xM

When I received my new seven inch display, I wanted to give it a test on a machine that was known to be a little finicky to get working.
That means, of course, the Beagle xM. Because that device worked with my 3.5 inch LCD, but it mostly failed with the HDMI to VGA adaptor. Mostly, as in I had a little program that would switch between VGA (640×480) and SVGA (800×600) with keypresses, and if I was lucky, one or the other might sync in. Usually... it didn't.

So when my new display arrived, I was excited to plug in the Beagle xM and see how it looked on something that offered a resolution that was useful. Sure, it's a little small, but as I said before, 1024×600 is way more than the resolutions that I'd been using on my A5000 and RiscPC for many years.

The Beagle did nothing other than turn its power indicator on. No µSD activity, nothing. I was running it from the chunky iomega Zip power brick, so it should have been good.
Just in case, I powered up the EeePC and plugged the Beagle into the USB port. That's a little dodgy, but it's how I ran the Beagle right in the beginning.
Still nothing. Just that lonely LED.

Obvious culprit, the card. But it checked out. A proper little FAT partition containing the usual boot files. The "uEnv.txt" file (the boot script) didn't look broken. So...

Since I had the PC on, I rummaged around for the old USB harddisc. Using it, I managed to copy 17% of the image to the SD card. Then the drive vanished from reality. It looks like the cable has had it, and I'm lucky that it worked that much. It's a comedy of errors, isn't it?
The first USB harddisc, also, uses a mini USB connector, so none of my micro USB leads will fit. I've ordered a new cable from Amazon, it'll arrive tomorrow.

Still, that 17% ought to be enough to at least get enough of Angstrom Linux going to see something on the screen, right?

Actually... right. It was enough to entirely boot into the UI. Strangely, the boot specified the resolution as 720p HD, and the Beagle output that. I was able to change to a number of resolutions in the desktop, but none of them matched the monitor, and they seemed to change every time I opened the menu. It's almost as if Linux had utterly no idea what the monitor was, so just plucked random resolutions out of its ass.

So rewriting the image to the card fixed the problem. The card that seemed to check out. Well, maybe it was okay, just not okay enough for the OMAP's onboard boot ROM...that is braindead. Yeah, the initial "MLO" file needs to be the first thing it finds in the directory or it'll choke. It's just a shame the boot ROM is too braindead to blink out some sort of error code. It might have made fault finding somewhat easier.

I had set RISC OS up to hang off the USER button, but that didn't seem to work. I mean, you RESET holding USER down, right?

So I popped the SD back into the PC and swapped 'em around so RISC OS will boot, and Linux will be available from the USER button, should it ever deign to do something.


RISC OS (seems to be 5.25?) started up. And then threw me into the command line with a weird quirk that the screen was incapable of scrolling. Anything off the bottom just overwrote itself. Trying *Desktop gave some weird message about TaskManager.

I then decided to catalogue the USB key (that I'm supposed to boot off), and... yeah... Loads of junk.

With the correct USB key inserted (in my defence, they're identical looking), I prodded the RESET button and the machine fired up. I got into the desktop pretty damn smoothly (most of the delay is pre-startup, I suspect that might be U-Boot?) and was looking at a reasonably stable 800×600 display. The monitor was supposed to be recognised via EDID (and it was) and the mode choice was supposed to be automatic. Not sure why RISC OS picked 800×600 instead of the native resolution.
I edited the configuration to start me up in 1024×600, and locked the file to stop the boot trying to be clever and undoing my preferred resolution.

One more reset (this time via Switcher) and...

Photo of my Beagle xM as displayed on my 7 inch display.
Finally! A stable display with the Beagle xM.

Finally, a stable display out of the Beagle xM, using timings supplied by the display panel itself. Much better than S-video, and only eight years late! ☺

I was actually surprised to see that the xM only has half a gigabyte of memory. I thought it had more. Still, it's nice to see this machine leap back into life.



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