Computer for RE Systems (Part 2 of 2) (Software)




In the first part of this Instructable Located here , I added all of the hardware that I wanted to get a good desktop system.

Now for the software, but before the software, we have to add yet more Hardware.

We need to attach a CD drive to load an OS, This terminal does support USB booting, but it only has USB 1.1 so it would be slower, I would rather hook up a CD drive.

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Step 1: Adding the CD Drive

I used a DVD drive, but a regular CD drive would work as well.

I came across a little problem as well, there was only one power connector that would work on the CD drive and that was being used by the hard drive, I could have just spliced and other connector one, but I did not want to risk overloading the power supply.

I ended up using an external power brick for the CD drive, i found out that even tho the CD drive is getting power, it will not turn on while the IDE cable is plugged into the mainboard. It turns on and off with the mainboard which is great news.

The CD drive is only temporary, once the OS is loaded it will be removed.

Step 2: Uh Oh, BIOS Is Locked!!!!!

Crap now what? The Bios is password protected, a quick online search shown that their was a default password, That password is "Fireport" with the capital F, that should work on most Wyse systems.

For me that worked, but let say it didn't work because someone put their own in. Now what?

If this is your case there are 2 ways that I know of to remove the password and reset it to the default Fireport.

1. Open the case and locate the backup battery, There is a Jumper right next to it, move it to the other position and power up the system, power down, and move the Jumper back. Now the password is the default one. I have tested this and confirmed that it does in fact work.

2. Open the case and locate the backup battery, remove the battery and the main power, Press the power button seven (7) times, replace battery and then the mains power. I have not tried this myself, it may or may not work.

Step 3: BIOS Settings

Once you get into BIOS you need to make it boot from the CD first.

You go under Advanced BIOS settings to do that.

While I was taking these BIOS pictures I noticed one thing, I had 512MB of RAM but it was limited to 64MB. One change of a setting fixed that problem and boosted the speed of the system as well.

Step 4: Install OS

For my OS, I tried Xubuntu and it was not as fast as I thought it should be. I then found an old download of Ubuntu (Warty Warthog).

Once you have the system set up to install, put the CD in the drive and install as you would a normal OS.

Once everything is installed and set up, power down the system and remove the CD drive, then replace the cover.

It would be a good idea to go back into BIOS and make sure the hard drive is set to boot first. Mine was like that already when i removed the CD drive.

Step 5: Finish

Now enjoy your new energy efficient desktop. Screen shot coming soon

Step 6: Changes and Ideas

A few additional things I plan to change, add.

Swamp out the Desktop hard drive for a laptop hard drive(less power needed) or install a IDE to CF or SD adapter and have a 8GB card in the adapter for a completely silent computer.

I might swamp out the WiFi card for a USB 2.0 card

I don't really have a use for a CD drive unless I want to listen to music, even them all I need to do is plug in a USB flash drive with music on it. If i can find a CD drive for less that $20 shipped I may put one in.

Also, Since I am running this on just a 2 amp 12 Volt adapter, it would be easy to run this solely off of a solar panel. This system takes only 2 or less amps, a 30 Watt solar panel, puts out 2.5 amps of current at 18 Volts. you could easily use a 12 volt regulator and power this right off the solar panel. It may even work on a cloudy day. or you can get a charge controller for about $15 and a 7 amp hour SLA battery for about $20 and it would work on cloudy days, plus the panel would have the power to charge the battery and power the computer at the same time.

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    16 Discussions

    rasberry pi comes with 512 memory a 700 mhz arm11 and a sdhc card slot for the drive and ive seen up to 7 inch moniters that they can mount to and are bearly biger then a credit card and only cost 35 dollers new

    1 reply

    I looked at that and find it a waste of money for this type of application. While it has a faster CPU, it is really limited by the SD card speed and the FSB of the CPU, it's only a ARM cpu so don't expect much from it if you want to run Ubuntu on it.

    $35 is for the mainboard only You have to have more then that to make it work.
    This is the minimum you would need.
    PI Board $35
    Enclosure $7.35
    SD Card holder $1.25
    Power supply $6.99
    SD Card 4GB $10.59

    Total without shipping $61.18

    Since posting this 3 years ago, I upgraded the board to one with a 733Mhz CPU and put XP Pro on it, Now I have upgraded again, still using the same case, but put a SATA 160GB Laptop HDD in it, A ASUS mainboard with a Dual core 1.6Ghz Atom CPU and Windows 7 Ultimate. Only cost $80 to upgrade it,


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    Could you tell me the Brand and model number of the one you added the RAM to? Mine sees and uses all of the 512MB, however 512 is the max that the mainboard con support, also did you use PC100 or PC133 RAM and is it the Bios that only sees 256? Mine would only see 128 unit I switched one setting to OS2. In the first picture you can barely see it but the extended RAM reads 515872KB, which is 512MB


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    I got the same one you have, the WT3455XL. With the 2x512 SIMMS it recognized 256MB in the BIOS even without switching to OS2; but OS2 on or off, all I get is 256MB. I'm guessing that's what I'm stuck with, which is certainly acceptable.

    Aside from that, it's a wonderful unit. I put in a dual CF/IDE adapter, and in one slot I have a 1GB CF card with Debian, and in the other slot a 4GB MicroDrive for data. I left in the 32MB SSD, too. With a mouse and keyboard the whole thing runs off a 1.4A power supply. It's definitely a 'green' computer. This machine is quite a find.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    I would try putting 2 256MB cards in that are PC133, It could be that you used high density RAM and I know this mainboard does not like those. I upgraded mine after making this instructable with a 900Mhz mainboard, so I may have to dig out the orginal and do some looking. You could try looking for a BIOS update too, I did get the old borad to run XP Pro but that was just for fun. Mine was made in 2003, sop if yours is older it may have a BIOS that will only do 256MB. Also is it the BIOS or the OS that says 256MB?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    How well did the original MB run on XP Pro?  I'veinstalled W2K on 3 3455s so far, have 2 more to get running with theFSB@133 to bump the CPU to 733.

    On my ancient iPAQs (circa 2000), XP Pro runs a bit faster thanW2K on the 1GHz P3 CPU with 512Meg RAM (and Win7 runs faster than XP/2K).

    If the MB ran XP Pro decently at all, I'd be interested in runningit, as I only use the WinTerms for coupon printing, so XP would beabout the heaviest stress they'd get, except when Java fired up for someof the coupon printers drivers.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    OK, installed XP on a couple, and it is MUCH slower to boot than 2K, but seems to run about as fast (ie, SLOW) once running.  Works well enough for coupon printing.

    Of the 6 I got in my Ebay lot, one never would boot with a HD installed.  Another started having problems after a while.  Looking at all 6, 3 of them had some 1000uF 6.3V caps near the CPU that were bulging.  I happened to have some 1000uF 16V, so I replaced all 4 in the 2 worst ones, then used the good ones pulled from those in the third, all 3 run fine now.

    So if you have some of these, and they are flaky - seem to "overheat" and restart, check the 4 1000uF caps near the CPU, if the tops are bulging even the slightest bit, replace them.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    Both the BIOS and Linux report 256MB. I'll bet it's the high density issue. I'm not too concerned, though, the machine is great as-is, and I paid only $20 for it off eBay including shipping.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    While the computer itself may run on just 12V 2 Amps, what are you using for a monitor and how are you powering that?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You have a good point there, I never put much thought into it because I was mainly focusing on the desktop part, But the monitor I use is a 12" LCD that runs direct off of 12V and only takes 1 Amp to run it, I have and a couple good test runs while using this with a 45 Watt solar panel and a 7Ah SLA battery. Both the desktop and the monitor where able to run all day on a sunny day. However since I made this instructable the mainboard has been upgraded to a 800Mhs VIA Board, and it now can only run for 5 or 6 hours on a sunny day. I soon hope to replace the HDD with a 8GB CF Card and put Ubuntu 9 on it, or Puppy Linux.

    scob89The Real Dave

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, I am honored. I remember that PC they made, I didn't like they was they did it tho. I don't really like to boot and run and OS from a flash drive. I like to have something that was made to run an OS off of. I do like to install an OS from a flash drive and do it with Ubuntu JJ, XP Pro, and Vista, but I never run an OS from the drive.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    If you can find someone willing to give you their old/broken laptop.... You could scavange the harddrive, AND the slimline optical drive(slimline-ide adapter is something like $12 from amazon) Once you have an optical drive installed, usb2 isn't a big deal.... you processor isn't really fast enough to take advantage of the speed anyhow :-) My vote is for CF-IDE adapter, and usb-thumbdrives for extra storage. talking seriously low-power setup here.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I've already got plenty of CD and DVD drives out of laptops, don't have the adapter, but for me, a CD is only needed to install the OS, after that, i don't need one, everything I use is either and external hard drive or USB flash drives. I have everything needed to put a laptop hard drive in it, but the smallest drive I have is a 30GB. plus I decided that if I swamp out the hard drive, it will be for a CF adapter only.