Is this possible with the free version?

(I apologize for asking, but I’m on a
dial=up connection, so “just download
and try it” is not much of an option)

I recently lucked into (whether it was “good luck”
or “bad luck” remains to be seen :smiley: )
some Intel "Internet Station"s. These
are sorta like “headless laptops”:
they’re based on National’s reference
design for the NS486SXF, with PCMCIA,
an ATA flash disk, Ethernet, and
serial. But no keyboard or display.

Since I’ve been wanting to learn QNX,
would like to make something interesting
out of those gadgets, and discovered
that there was (a while back. Maybe
in the QNX 4 era?) QNX support for
the reference design, I’d like to
try building a boot image for them.
Maybe with something like an IP
forwarding app to turn one into an
802.11b WAP, or a PCMCIA soundcard
driver to have it act as a “sound
terminal” for an MP3 server on my
PC (Yeah, I know it can’t do the
decompression on the fly. But I’m
going to have make the server serve
up WAVs, anyway, because my Webpals
can’t do it, either).

So, my questions are:

  1. Is the NS486 still supported?

  2. Is it possible to do this kind of
    cross-development with the
    non-commercial version?

  3. Can I get by with just downloading
    the RTP, and doing the build work on
    my Linux system? Or do I need to find a
    friend with broadband to grab the
    NC ISO?



You can do this with the NC edition, but only pre-6.2.0 as 6.2.x do not have the tools (mkifs) you will need to customize things for your station. Do you know if it has a standard PC BIOS for booting? This sounds like a really interesting project.

Oh, and yes, 386 and 486 processors are sill supported.

Thanks, Chris.

The NS486 can’t support a standard BIOS: one of the things NS sacrificed to cut costs (along with the FPU and MMU) was real mode.

There’s a built-in bootloader/downloader based on VxWorks, which I’m hoping to persuade to load QNX, instead of the original firmware.


There is emulator for missing FPU, but QNX6 really needs MMU to run.

Bummer. Do I gather correctly that there’s no NC version of QNX4?

I’ve got a couple of old 486 laptops that could use a real OS to replace the Billyware that came with them, so I can do one of those as a learning project, but converting the ISes is more like the sort of embedded work that I usually do, and would expect to do with QNX.

Thanks for the warning: you undoubtedly saved me some frustration.


QNX4 needs an MMU as well. You said that the device gives up realmode, which means it has an MMU and only supports protected mode right?

I came across an online copy of the “System Architecture” manual for Neutrino 1.0, which says that it has a “no protection” configuration that’s:

I did a little more googling, and found that “no MMU” appears to be someone’s interpretation of National’s statement that is has “no virtual memory”.

So it may have something along the lines of the IBM 360, which had access control for real memory, but no address translation or paging.

(National appears to have hired Winston Smith as their webmaster: all mention of the NS486, except for a few archived press releases, has been purged. No programmer’s reference. No datasheet. Doubleplusungood :frowning: )

But a couple of those remaining press blurbs mention QNX support, so there must’ve been some way to get it going. Perhaps not anymore, though…

In any case, I’ll find out once I find someone to do the monster download for me.

Thanks to all for the help.


IIRC the NS486 does have an MMU, but boots with MMU enabled. QNX (in theory) supports it, however, you will probably need to roll your own ipl and startup code. (The vxworks loader might help as a reference).

Well, I don’t know what the NS486 is. I got that NS486 runs in real mode only. But seems I misunderstood. If NS486 runs in protected mode only, it has MMU and should run QNX6 as well. You will have to write your own IPL. It’s not that easy with QNX6.1NC (there is no sources nor BSP AFAIR), but it’s quite possible. Concerning QNX4, I heard about proc16 (though I never used it) and thought it is for QNX4 on real-mode CPU.
The Building Embedded Systems guide should help on writing IPL … about.html