There are a variety of reasons you'd want to update the hard disk image on your NetWinder. From a simple update to a newer disk image, to a forced reinstallation because something went badly wrong, this manual covers the various possibilities.
Each chapter in this manual covers a different installation method. Consult the section `Choosing an installation method' below for advice on how to determine the best method for your particular circumstances. There is a general `Troubleshooting' chapter at the end.
Official disk images for the NetWinder can be downloaded from
ftp://ftp.netwinder.org/pub/netwinder/images/ directory (older disk
images are in
/pub/ccc/images/ instead). For more information
about the various disk images, please see
There are also some unofficial disk images that may be of interest. Having not tried them myself, I withold further comments and will only say that there is an ongoing port of Debian (see http://www.debian.org/ports/arm/) and there is also a RedHat port with versioned glibc called Titan (see http://www.nw.carleton.ca).
A variety of installation methods can be used to update the NetWinder's disk. Which one is right for you will depend on such factors as how much free space you have on the NetWinder's hard disk, what type of network connection you have got, etc. The following paragraphs are intended to asist you in selecting an appropriate installation method.
For the OfficeServer and DM built 15, a "rescue partition" is included on
/dev/hda4. It contains a small filesystem that provides facilities
to restore the rest of the drive from either a Windows or Unix host, without
having to worry about nfs booting. Use of this new rescue system is covered
For people with plenty of free disk space, this is the easiest method. You download the compressed disk image (tarball) onto your NetWinder, then expand it onto a free partition. Requires enough space to hold the compressed and uncompressed images simultaneously (about 900 MB for build #12).
The compressed tarball can be downloaded to another machine and be expanded from there across a (local) network connection. The `other' machine must support NFS file sharing (unix machine) or SMB file sharing (Windows) and must have enough room to hold the compressed disk image. The NetWinder must have enough room for the uncompressed image (ideally on an unused partition).
You can remove the hard disk from the NetWinder and install it in an ordinary PC. This will of course void your warrantee! You'll need a laptop IDE adaptor cable, available at most computer stores, since the connector is physically smaller. Then you can set the drive as slave and format/install to your hearts content from the host PC system.
If you own a parallel-port device such as the Backpack CD-ROM or a tape drive, you can use this to hold the disk image. The NetWinder can even boot off the cd-rom drive (it takes forever, since the parallel port is fairly slow). You can also use ZIP drives, though you won't be able to fit an entire disk image onto one of course. Still useful for emergency booting though.
Certain versions of the NetWinder firmware come with a `rescue' filesystem that allows the machine to be booted without using the hard disk or the network connection. It turns your NetWinder into an NFS server, so that another computer on your network can connect to it and decompress the disk image. This method requires a second (unix) machine as an NFS client, with enough room to hold the compressed disk image.
The NetWinder can boot from another server (typically another Linux machine) using TFTP to fetch the kernel and NFS to access the root filesystem. It can be quite tricky to get this setup, so this option is not recommended for novices. It requires a second computer with enough room for the compressed and uncompressed disk image, and it must have tftp and nfs server support.
Mike Montour has developed a trimmed-down and more automatic method similar to the NFS booting technique, but without the overhead of an entire disk image on the rescue server. His latest version also includes a GUI tool to help set up the server for tftp, nfs, and dhcp services. This method also requires a second (unix) machine that can support network booting.