Monday, 19 January 2009

Nearly Broke It

I'm trying to get back into fiddling with the MusicPal internet radio after I got distracted by a few other things instead over Christmas.
The first thing I noticed was that I had broken the manufacturers' software - it appeared to boot up ok, and I could play files of my server, but internet radio didn't work, and neither did the clock on the device.
I tried fiddling around with the settings via the MusicPal's menu, but couldn't find anything wrong.
It turned out that I had filled up the filesystem on the device, so it did not have enough storage space to create /etc/resolve.conf or similar, so the internet DNS resolution did not work. Once I deleted my experimental files, it all started to work again....

This got me thinking that to do any serious development on this, I will need more storage space - deleting the manufacturers' software altogether is a bit of a big step given the rate I work on these things. The simplest would be to persuade it to boot over the network, just like the MediaMVP - this means I can easily change the root filesystem image, and if it doesn't work it is trivial to put hte original back. The trouble with this is that I will have to update the uboot configuration - this would be easy if I had a serial console for the device, but I don't. I think there is a real possibility of turning it into a brick if I get this wrong.....
The less intrusive alternative would be to compile a kernel with NFS support and have it nfs mount a filesystem with my software on it. This is less drastic, but I will have to make sure I can do the emergency re-flash of the firmware in case I mess it up. A job for later.
The simplest would be to put my files on a USB memory stick and use that - people seem to have added USB support to the musicpal quite easily, so I had a look inside. Sure enough, there is space for a solder connection USB socket, and a punch out panel in the back of the case. I think I will get a USB socket and try this first to see how it goes - I can't find one in anything I can dismantle at the moment, so will have to buy one.
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