ARM/StrongARM(SA11X0) Compaq iPAQ PocketPC


RedBoot supports the serial port via cradle or cable, and Compact Flash ethernet cards if fitted for communication and downloads. The LCD touchscreen may also be used for the console, although by default RedBoot will switch exclusively to one channel once input arrives.

The default serial port settings are 38400,8,N,1. RedBoot runs from and supports flash management for the system flash region.

The following RedBoot configurations are supported:

ROM[ROM]RedBoot running from the board's flash boot sector.redboot_ROM.ecm
RAM[RAM]RedBoot running from RAM with RedBoot in the flash boot sector.redboot_RAM.ecm
WinCE[RAM]RedBoot running from RAM, started from OSloader.redboot_WinCE.ecm

Initial Installation

RedBoot ROM and WinCE mode images are needed by the installation process.

Installing RedBoot on the iPAQ using Windows/CE

The Windows/CE environment originally shipped with the iPAQ contains a hidden mini-loader, sometimes referred to as the "Parrot" loader. This loader can be started by holding down the action button (the joypad) while resetting the unit or when powering on. At this point, a blue bird will appear on the LCD screen. Also at this point, a simple loader can be accessed over the serial port at 115200/8N1. Using this loader, the contents of the iPAQ flash memory can be saved to a Compact Flash memory card.

NOTE: We have only tested this operation with a 32Mbyte CF memory card. Given that the backup will take 16MBytes + 1KByte, something more than a 16MByte card will be required.

Use the "r2c" command to dump Flash contents to the CF memory card. Once this completes, RedBoot can be installed with no fear since the Parrot loader can be used to restore the Flash contents at a later time.

If you expect to completely recover the state of the iPAQ Win/CE environment, then HotSync should be run to backup all "RAM" files as well before installing RedBoot.

The next step in installing RedBoot on the iPAQ actually involves Windows/CE, which is the native environment on the unit. Using WinCE, you need to install an application which will run a RAM based version of RedBoot. Once this is installed and running, RedBoot can be used to update the flash with a native/ROM version of RedBoot.

  • Using ActiveSync, copy the file OSloader to your iPAQ.

  • Using ActiveSync, copy the file redboot_WinCE.bin to the iPAQ as bootldr in its root directory. Note: this is not the top level folder displayed by Windows (Mobile Device), but rather the 'My Pocket PC' folder within it.

  • Execute OSloader. If you didn't create a shortcut, then you will have to poke around for it using the WinCE file explorer.

  • Choose the Tools->BootLdr->Run after loading from file menu item.

At this point, the RAM based version of RedBoot should be running. You should be able to return to this point by just executing the last two steps of the previous process if necessary.

Installing RedBoot on the iPAQ - using the Compaq boot loader

This method of installation is no longer supported. If you have previously installed either the Compaq boot loader or older versions of RedBoot, restore the Win/CE environment and proceed as outlined above.

Setting up and testing RedBoot

When RedBoot first comes up, it will want to initialize its LCD touch screen parameters. It does this by displaying a keyboard graphic and asks you to press certain keys. Using the stylus, press and hold until the prompt is withdrawn. When you lift the stylus, RedBoot will continue with the next calibration.

Once the LCD touchscreen has been calibrated, RedBoot will start. The calibration step can be skipped by pressing the return/abort button on the unit (right most button with a curved arrow icon). Additionally, the unit will assume default values if the screen is not touched within about 15 seconds.

Once RedBoot has started, you should get information similar to this on the LCD screen. It will also appear on the serial port at 38400,8,N,1.

RedBoot(tm) bootstrap and debug environment [ROM]
Non-certified release, version UNKNOWN - built 06:17:41, Mar 19 2001
Platform: Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC (StrongARM 1110)

Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, Free Software Foundation, Inc.

RAM: 0x00000000-0x01fc0000, 0x0001f200-0x01f70000 available
FLASH: 0x50000000 - 0x51000000, 64 blocks of 0x00040000 bytes
Since the LCD touchscreen is only 30 characters wide, some of this data will be off the right hand side of the display. The joypad may be used to pan left and right in order to see the full lines.

If you have a Compact Flash ethernet card, RedBoot should find it. You'll need to have BOOTP enabled for this unit (see your sysadmin for details). If it does, it will print a message like:

... Waiting for network card: .Ready!
Socket Communications Inc: CF+ LPE Revision E 08/04/99
IP:, Default server:

Installing RedBoot permanently

Once you are satisfied with the setup and that RedBoot is operating properly in your environment, you can set up your iPAQ unit to have RedBoot be the bootstrap application.


This step will destroy your Windows/CE environment.

Before you take this step, it is strongly recommended you save your WinCE FLASH contents as outlined above using the "parrot" loader, or by using the Compaq OSloader:

  • Using OSloader on the iPAQ, select the Tools->Flash->Save to files.... menu item.

  • Four (4) files, 4MB each in size will be created.

  • After each file is created, copy the file to your computer, then delete the file from the iPAQ to make room in the WinCE ramdisk for the next file.

You will need to download the version of RedBoot designed as the ROM bootstrap. Then install it permanently using these commands:
RedBoot> lo -r -b 0x100000 redboot_ROM.bin
RedBoot> fi loc -f 0x50000000 -l 0x40000
RedBoot> fis init
RedBoot> fi unl -f 0x50040000 -l 0x40000
RedBoot> fi cr RedBoot -b 0x100000
RedBoot> fi loc -f 0x50040000 -l 0x40000
RedBoot> reset


You must type these commands exactly! Failure to do so may render your iPAQ totally useless. Once you've done this, RedBoot should come up every time you reset.

Additional commands

The exec command which allows the loading and execution of Linux kernels, is supported for this board (see the Section called Executing Programs from RedBoot in Chapter 2). The exec parameters used for the iPAQ are:

-b <addr>

Location Linux kernel was loaded to

-l <len>

Length of kernel

-c "params"

Parameters passed to kernel

-r <addr>

'initrd' ramdisk location

-s <len>

Length of initrd ramdisk

Linux kernels may be run on the iPAQ using the sources from the anonymous CVS repository at the Handhelds project ( with the elinux.patch patch file applied. This file can be found in the misc/ subdirectory of the iPAQ platform HAL in the RedBoot sources, normally hal/arm/sa11x0/ipaq/VERSION/misc/

On the iPAQ (and indeed all SA11x0 platforms), Linux expects to be loaded at address 0xC0008000 and the entry point is also at 0xC0008000.

Memory Maps

RedBoot sets up the following memory map on the iPAQ: The first level page table is located at physical address 0xC0004000. No second level tables are used.

NOTE: The virtual memory maps in this section use a C and B column to indicate whether or not the region is cached (C) or buffered (B).

Physical Address Range     Description
-----------------------    ----------------------------------
0x00000000 - 0x01ffffff    16Mb to 32Mb FLASH (nCS0) [organized as below]
  0x000000 - 0x0003ffff      Parrot Loader
  0x040000 - 0x0007ffff      RedBoot
  0xf80000 - 0x00fbffff      Fconfig data
  0xfc0000 - 0x00ffffff      FIS directory
0x30000000 - 0x3fffffff    Compact Flash
0x48000000 - 0x4bffffff    iPAQ internal registers
0x80000000 - 0xbfffffff    SA-1110 Internal Registers
0xc0000000 - 0xc1ffffff    DRAM Bank 0 - 32Mb SDRAM
0xe0000000 - 0xe7ffffff    Cache Clean

Virtual Address Range    C B  Description
-----------------------  - -  ----------------------------------
0x00000000 - 0x01ffffff  Y Y  DRAM - 32Mb
0x30000000 - 0x3fffffff  N N  Compact Flash
0x48000000 - 0x4bffffff  N N  iPAQ internal registers
0x50000000 - 0x51ffffff  Y Y  Up to 32Mb FLASH (nCS0)
0x80000000 - 0xbfffffff  N N  SA-1110 Internal Registers
0xc0000000 - 0xc1ffffff  N Y  DRAM Bank 0: 32Mb
0xe0000000 - 0xe7ffffff  Y Y  Cache Clean   

Rebuilding RedBoot

These shell variables provide the platform-specific information needed for building RedBoot according to the procedure described in Chapter 3:

export TARGET=ipaq
export ARCH_DIR=arm
export PLATFORM_DIR=sa11x0/ipaq

The names of configuration files are listed above with the description of the associated modes.