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Old 12-20-2005, 16:06   #1
Martinp
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Default Cowon A2 Hardware & Software information

Well, the following:

I have been talking to Cowon about this issue. The A2 uses a modified version of Linux. Cowon are using a Linux Kernel that has been given to them by TI. The kernel that has given to them by TI has not since been modified (by Cowon) in any way.

Then they created an application layer that builds on the basis of the TI modified Linux Kernel. So all the application layer is Cowon's own and they do not have to open source this, seeing that this is their own intellectual property.

TI on the other hand is redistributing the modified Linux code, so these are the guys that we would need to talk to, to get the code.

But even when we do get the code off them, we would be left with a player without a GUI, no microphone, no FM Radio etc. etc. etc. So it would deffinitly not be fun, but it would be easier than completely creating a new OS (like Rockbox are doing for the H100).

This is all I know right now, but I will be sure to keep you updated.
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Old 12-20-2005, 16:25   #2
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eXity,

Can we not request the TI kernel source from cowon as they are redistributing it in binary form with this device or did they only receive the binary?

http://focus.ti.com/docs/general/spl...r+OT+linuxomap

eXity,

Do you know anything about the chipset for this device? Is it OMAP processor based?

Last edited by nathan; 12-20-2005 at 16:54..
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Old 12-20-2005, 17:10   #3
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Here is a highly interesting presentation I found from TI:
http://www.tikorea.co.kr/seminar/tid...2005.04.17.pdf

It looks like the A2 uses the TMS320DM320 (ARM926 CPU + C5409 DSP)

This would also explain the extremely shitty USB 2.0 OTG ...
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Last edited by Martinp; 12-20-2005 at 17:27..
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Old 12-20-2005, 18:25   #4
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eXity,

Some more information.

http://focus.ti.com/general/docs/wtb..._com_downloads
http://focus.ti.com/general/docs/wtb...middl/sw/linux

Let the fun begin

Last edited by nathan; 12-20-2005 at 19:10..
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Old 12-21-2005, 00:22   #5
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Woohoo! Well done guys!

Like Nathan, I believe Cowon is still obligated to give the kernel sources they are using to customers who ask for it. The GPL garantees that the rights are always carried over to the next person. So if Cowon got the modified kernel from TI, TI is supposed to make the sources available to Cowon. Subsequently, if Cowon redistribute the kernel in binary form, they too must make the source available even if they did not add any new modifications. Then again, I suppose if they just send us a link to the TI site for download, that's also OK...

Anyway, looks like there is a lot of docs to read. Cool .
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Old 12-21-2005, 03:29   #6
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More links:
http://www.linuxelectrons.com/articl...00046647/print
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Old 12-29-2005, 04:48   #7
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Default Cowon A2 Software & Hardware information

I just got my A2 for Christmas and I am extatic. It's a lovely piece of hardware, and I thank my dad for getting it for me Since I am a programmer and avid hacker of my RAZR, one of the first things I did was try to figure out what type of file the firmware was. It turns out COWON used the ELF file format to store, package, and deploy their software base and hardware integration (along with the Linux kernel). What is ELF?

Quote:
Originally Posted by http://www.cs.ucdavis.edu/~haungs/paper/node10.html

The Executable and Linking Format (ELF)
The executable and linking format (ELF) was originally developed by Unix System Laboratories and is rapidly becoming the standard in file formats. The ELF standard is growing in popularity because it has greater power and flexibility than the a.out and COFF binary formats. ELF now appears as the default binary format on operating systems such as Linux, Solaris 2.x, and SVR4. Some of the capabilities of ELF are dynamic linking, dynamic loading, imposing runtime control on a program, and an improved method for creating shared libraries. The ELF representation of control data in an object file is platform independent, an additional improvement over previous binary formats. The ELF representation permits object files to be identified, parsed, and interpreted similarly, making the ELF object files compatible across multiple platforms and architectures of different size.

The three main types of ELF files are executable, relocatable, and shared object files. These file types hold the code, data, and information about the program that the operating system and/or link editor need to perform the appropriate actions on these files. The three types of files are summarized as follows:
  • An executable file supplies information necessary for the operating system to create a process image suitable for executing the code and accessing the data contained within the file.
  • A relocatable file describes how it should be linked with other object files to create an executable file or shared library.
  • A shared object file contains information needed in both static and dynamic linking.
Since I am familiar with binary editors and decompilers, I used a program called "Reverse Engineering Compiler Studio" or RecStudio (Free from http://www.thefreecountry.com/progra...semblers.shtml) to see if I can find some strings I can start watching out for. Needless to say, I found many strings that are visible in the Cowon A2 OS. This screenshot shows some strings that could be of interest (circled) and several *NIX-style driver-loading and drive mounting. Enjoy, and hopefully soon enough, I'll be able to find where some icons are, etc.

http://www.polyfx.com/cowon_a2/a2_strings.jpg
The version of the firmware is clearly visible (1.51), and also "Capture" is visible vertically.

On a side note, the A2 is kickass. It does everything and more. I tried two moves on it for now (both DVD-rips) and they work like a charm. Some of my Family Guy didn't work, but it's most likely faulty-encoding. Good day, and Merry Christmas (although it passed) + Happy New Year

PS: Is anyone else working on figuring this out too? I figured it's a new product and I'd have a go at it; usually modder groups are huge for every PMP/Portable-anything out there.

Last edited by davvv; 12-29-2005 at 05:00..
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Old 12-29-2005, 05:06   #8
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The Cowon A2 apparently uses the GTK+ GUI toolkit. (http://www.gtk.org/)
Ironically, the A2 still has the GTK+ global keyboard key resources, but the A2 has no keyboard

http://www.polyfx.com/cowon_a2/a2_keys.JPG

Last edited by davvv; 12-29-2005 at 05:24..
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Old 12-29-2005, 05:16   #9
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Stickied and merged with my Linux GPL thread.
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Last edited by Martinp; 12-29-2005 at 05:19..
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Old 12-29-2005, 05:23   #10
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Thanks!
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Old 12-29-2005, 05:39   #11
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Here is a Linux distro that functions on the DM320 (same dual-core processsor that the A2 uses): http://www.montereylinux.com/datashe...s-20040531.pdf
Very interesting architechture. It shows that any custom libraries are theoretically installable. Which would allow PDF/Flash/HTML support (and alot more).

Some more info here (TI actually provides the code for a warm boot - I might try to compile that and see how I can get it to work): http://focus.ti.com/lit/ug/spru173/spru173.pdf

Last edited by davvv; 12-29-2005 at 05:48..
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Old 12-29-2005, 06:04   #12
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Another question for anyone that knows (since I can't figure it out). Does the A2 use a hardware module for user-input? Or is the joystick comparable to PC arrow keys (and maybe Back = F1, A = F2, B = F3, C = F4 or something similar?). If anyone knows, do tell
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Old 12-29-2005, 10:17   #13
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I'll see what I can find out.
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Old 12-29-2005, 17:08   #14
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I've been messing around with it today, too, and I've got a couple of "educated guesses" about how the A2's system is set up.
  • The A2 "CPU" is called the DM320 (this includes both the Multimedia-Processor (C54xx) and the ALU (ARM9xx DSP).
  • The machine-language architecture of the A2 is called ARM9/DSP.
  • The bootloader (not sure which one it is - most likely proprietary) is located *somewhere* on a ROM chip.
  • The bootloader has only one entry which points to .system\a2_player.
  • a2_player is a bootable ELF binary with a modified Linux kernel (specific to DM320).
  • The ELF binary loads the filesystem and apps into RAM (kernel, GTK, codec support, USB drivers, tinyX or XWindows, etc), creating a virtual drive (kind of like Knoppix).
  • The kernel mounts the hdd and the RAM drive (the RAM drive may be virtually partitioned resulting in more virtual drives).
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Old 12-30-2005, 08:56   #15
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good on ye, davvv!!
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