The Compaq Evo T20 works

April 15, 2010

I’ve finished the software research stage of my Compaq Evo T20 experiments. I have settled on the Tinycore 2.7 distribution. So I now have a 300MHz thin client that:

  • can connect to a wired or wireless network.
  • can play audio through its onboard sound device.
  • has the required libraries to run MPD (music player daemon)  and (minimal console application for streaming stations.)
  • can run Ruby 1.8.7, rubygems, rails, sinatra, etc (Ruby 1.9.x isn't compiling properly just yet.)
  • can load and use my k8055 linux drivers to control up to 8 digital outputs, 2 PWM outputs, 5 digital inputs and 2 analog inputs.

The possibilities for this are endless! It’s easy to see the potential of a tiny, stable, fanless computer that can be put anywhere, control anything, and be controlled from anywhere.

Some of my ideas:

  • Online remote control car server via webcam
  • Networked 8-stage fireworks display
  • Timelapse camera controller with pan and tilt
  • RFID tag access control system (swipe an authorized RFID card and unlock a door)
  • radio player attached to home sterio system, controllable via network.
I have actually implemented the last idea. It took a lot of help from other people before I solved all of the problems I was having. A few hints would be:
  • Never use ndiswrapper with rt73 wireless devices. It made my T20s freeze randomly. Get rt73.bin from the driver packages on the manufactures website. Copy it to /usr/lib/firmware, and start wpa_supplicant with the wext driver option.
  • To get sound working on a Compaq Evo T20 running tinycore linux, all you have to do is place the following lines in /opt/
echo "# KMW: hacked sound setup - BEGIN" >> /etc/modprobe.conf
echo "alias snd-card-0 snd-sb16"         >> /etc/modprobe.conf
echo "alias sound-slot-0 snd-sb16"       >> /etc/modprobe.conf
echo "options snd-sb16 isapnp=0"         >> /etc/modprobe.conf
echo "# KMW: hacked sound setup - END"   >> /etc/modprobe.conf
/usr/local/etc/init.d/alsasound start

(Thanks to Karl Mowatt-Wilson for this)