Chapter 2. ALIX Board Setup

Table of Contents

2.1. Booting and connecting
2.2. BIOS configuration
2.3. CMOS clock battery

2.1. Booting and connecting

The first thing to do with your ALIX board is to boot it up and hook it up to it with a serial terminal. Connect your workstation's serial port (or, as in my case, USB-to-serial adapter) to the board's port with an FF null modem cable. The default serial port settings used by the ALIX.2D3's BIOS are 38400 baud with eight data bits, one stop bit, no parity, and XON/XOFF flow control; provide these settings to cu(1) or your other serial communications program of choice, then connect, e.g.:

$ cu -e -o -s 38400 -l /dev/ttyUSB0

Now plug in the ALIX's power supply. You should immediately see BIOS messages appear on your serial terminal, followed by a memory test, and finally an error message about an invalid disk. So good, so far.

2.2. BIOS configuration

Reboot the ALIX board with your serial terminal still connected. This time press s during the BIOS memory check in order to enter the tinyBIOS configuration utility. Press the number 1 to change the BIOS's serial console rate to 115200 baud (in order to make serial file transfers bearable, if necessary), L to enable LBA mode on the CF card, and then U to enable Ultra DMA. Also press E to enable PXE booting. Finally, press Q to quit. When prompted, confirm that you wish to persist these changes to flash.

Disconnect your serial terminal, then reconfigure your terminal software to communicate with the ALIX board at the new rate of 115200 baud. Reconnect your null modem cable and ensure that everything is still working.

2.3. CMOS clock battery

Unless ordered with a special build option, the ALIX.2D3 board lacks a backup battery (such as those found in most general-purpose PCs) to keep its CMOS clock running while the board is disconnected from its power supply. Fortunately, the board comes ready for one to be installed; just solder a standard CR2032 horizontal battery holder into the spot on the circuit board marked "BT1," being sure to observe correct polarity. Install a fresh battery in the holder and you will be good to go.