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Apr 16, 2000 17:56
For those of you who have asked where to get the BIOS images for the I-Opener, we have them here. You can use these images for flashing the I-Opener bios as described here

Adam Serediuk

Apr 16, 2000 16:53
In case you haven't noticed, we are on Slashdot in regards to the decrypt code for QNX crytp passwords.

Adam Serediuk

Apr 15, 2000 19:22
Interesting turn of events here. Just got an email from James about a letter sent to Circuit City customers regarding backordered i-Openers from Circuit City. It actually makes sense once you piece it all together. The new i-Openers from CompUSA are the "unhackable" models, while the ones being shipped to Circuit City customers were anyone's guess as to which version they would be when customers got them. One thing that confuses me, however, is the fact that Netpliance backed off of these terms on their own mail-order sales. Maybe things just take longer in dealing with corporate resellers? Anyway, the letter that James got from Circuit City follows:
April 14, 2000

Dear Circuit City Customer,

We are writing on behalf of Circuit City regarding the i-opener that you recently ordered. The product you ordered has been discontinued, but there is a new model at the same price and includes all the benefits of the i-opener. The difference is that modification of the i-opener in any way is no longer physically possible in the new model.

In connection with your purchase of the new i-opener model you will need to activate an i-opener service account to be able to use the i-opener and agree to the Terms of Sale below. The Fee for the service is $21.95 per month and will be billed approximately 2 days after you purchase the product.

If you wish to cancel your order, or for a refund if you pre-paid, please contact the Circuit City location where you ordered your i-opener.

The Netpliance Team

Terms of Sale

By opening the i-opener box from Netpliance, I understand and agree that purchasing the i-opener is contingent upon the activation of a new i-opener account. I further understand and agree that if I fail to activate the i-opener account within 30 days of purchase or cancel before 90 days after purchase date, Netpliance is authorized to charge my credit card a $499 fee representin the full value of each i-opener system purchased. I understand that the fee does not apply if the i-opener system is returned to the place of purchase in new condition with all components and the seal on the physical hardware is not broken, within 30 days of purchase. I have read the above conditions and understand my obligations under this agreement. I agree and consent to the delivery and tranfer of my name, phone number, and address to Netpliance to activate my new i-opener account.

7600A N. Capital of TX Hwy, Austin, TX 78731 TEL:512-493-8300 FAX:512-493-8399

Apr 14, 2000 20:19
Prefect has added his latest schematic here. The newest addition takes the onboard serial connector (CN12) and converts it from TTL line levels to standard RS-232 line levels for use with standard serial devices.

Apr 14, 2000 11:42
Two more links for everyone, this time coming from the message board. If you have a "gooed" BIOS chip, you can flash it yourself, as long as you've got a K7Pro or BH6. Check it out!

For K7Pro instructions, click here.

For BH6 instructions, click here.

Have fun!
Apr 12, 2000 19:50
Thats it..its over. sean_k from #i-opener-linux has devolped a program to decrypt ANY qnx password. Because of this we were able to extract these passwords:

Root: osiw$6.4
Regular user: one2go
Thanks to everone who helped him. Source to the program is here

--Andy Brezinsky
Apr 12, 2000 8:12
Well, folks... I have received so many emails on this that it just can't be ignored anymore. Circuit City is no longer taking orders for the i-Openers. If your store is still taking orders, I'm almost sure that they just haven't gotten the word from Corporate yet.

The good news, however, is that CompUSA stores all over the country are getting in stock! I'm not quite sure how CompUSA can be getting in new stock while people are waiting for orders to be filled from Circuit City, but nevertheless, they are. So, for those people who haven't gotten one of the cool toys yet, RUN, don't walk, to your local CompUSAs! :-) They don't have a backorder of units yet, but I'm not sure how long that will last. I also wonder if the same thing will happen to CompUSA once the demand for the product at that store exceeds supply. We shall see... Oh yeah, and for those worried about having to sign up for service, every email I have received so far says that CompUSA is NOT requiring you to sign ANYTHING and nothing is said about having to sign up for the ISP service. This raises even more questions, but I'm sure they'll be answered in the coming weeks.

Oh, and one last thing... Send me pics and/or a synopsis of what you've done with your hacked i-Opener! Somebody has to have done something useful with this neato device. So, get them in and we'll post them up to spark the imaginations of the rest of this group!

Apr 11, 2000 22:47
After a reader advised us, I took a look at Circuit City's website. If you do a search for "Netpliance", "Iopener", or "I-opener", nothing is found! You are probably still able to order from CC, just not over the web. Does this spell impending doom for future orders from CC? If we find anything, you'll be the first to know!

Apr 11, 2000 12:07
Check out this article at Slashdot. Its a submission by Kalin Harvey who has had a chance to meet with Netpliance's CTO about various issues. So, go check it out and give the guy some feedback.

Apr 10, 2000 23:19
Good news for all the people worried about their i-Opener shipments. It appears as though Netpliance is going back to the original agreements for people who ordered their i-Openers before the new Terms went into effect. Everyone is simply being held to what they actually agreed to, and no one is being forced to agree to the new (now old) Terms of Service. Kudos to Netpliance for this move. I'm sure it will make a lot of people happier with the company in general.

The actual units being shipped out at this point in time seem to once again all be the same. We've ended up with units that still have an intact IDE header, but a new BIOS (dated 3/23/00) that is epoxied into place. The most common ways so far to remove this epoxy have been using a Dremel tool to chip it away or using acetone to soften it up for removal.

For those of you who haven't heard yet, CompUSA is going to start carrying the i-Openers (and already has stock in the store in some places). I'm not sure what the Terms are here, but the reports I've had so far indicate no requirement to connect to Netpliance's ISP services.

So, people. Now that it seems we have this somewhat behind us, please send me pictures and descriptions of what you have done with your i-Opener. Anyone totally automated their houses yet? :-)

Back to the hack...

Apr 9, 2000 2:56
Freshmeat has an excellent article about the evolution of Netpliance and the "fiasco" that has ensued. Check it out, lots of good info and background.

Apr 8, 2000 1:22
Alright guys, we now have a supplier for new BIOSs for the "unhackable" i-Openers. Paul sent us this blurb:

I have found a place called Badflash ( that can reprogram
the I-Opener BIOS flash eproms. He has an image of the original I-Opener
BIOS and I have verified the image is good.

He can reprogram an I-Opener BIOS if the chips are sent to him, or he can
supply a new flash eprom and program that and send it. His posted prices
are $10 to reprogram a BIOS and $18 for a new 2Mbit BIOS programmed with the
I-Opener BIOS.

Check the site because he indicated if he gets a large demand for this one
part he can cut a deal on the price.

Lastly, he has some Flash eproms that require 12V to program them. Since
the I-Opener is designed for parts that are programmed with a %v source,
these parts would be essentially READ ONLY while installed in the I-Opener.
They could not be reprogrammed remotely by Netpliance.

Alright people... BACK TO HACKING! :-)

Apr 7, 2000 18:38
For those of you who still have not received your orders (or your orders are still "Processing..."), several users have emaile me in response to yesterday's post about Netpliance allowing them to pay the $200 for their I-Openers. You'll have to pay for the 3 months service up front, then apparently cancel the service with the agreement that they will keep the money that you paid for the 3 months service and stop billing. Or, you could wait a few days to see if your unit does what mine did and magically ships without agreeing to the ToS.

Apr 7, 2000 18:28
For you users still receiving your i-Openers with the intention to play with them a little, here is how one user got around the new epoxied BIOS chips. It takes patience, but if you still want it for its hackability value, check this out.

Most of the mail I have been getting from people about yesterday's news post have a very similar theme to them: feelings of betrayal and anger. It would seem that right now is a very touchy time for Netpliance. They're still straddling the fence on whether or not to support the hacking movement around their net appliances. On one hand you have the disgruntled current customers that are dealing with new Terms of Service agreements, and on the other hand you have the Developers Corner which promises to give us hackers what we want, a unit to play with and see how far we can stretch this concept. The coming weeks should say alot about Netpliance's future as a company.

Wired Online has run a story about Netpliance's reneging orders until the new Terms of Service are agreed to. I'm quoted right at the beginning :-).

Last but not least, a very interresting thing happened today. After two phone calls to Netpliance in which I refused to agree to the new ToS (I told them I would "think about it", but did not agree), my I-Opener showed on the Netpliance web site today as being shipped today. This has my curiosity piqued as to whether I will soon see additional charges start popping up on my credit card. Anyway, it seems as though my i-Opener adventure may have just taken a turn for the better... more news on this as it happens.

Apr 6, 2000 12:01
--The Drama Continues--

Emails are still coming in from people about the drama that started yesterday when Netpliance began trying to push new Terms of Service on its customers. Lots of people are very upset at the highly questionable business practices that Netpliance has been using. Just for grins, I called Netpliance one more time to find something out. I wanted to know whether or not I could agree to the new ToS by paying for the 90 days of service up front with my order but that be it. In other words, I would pay the $99 + $40 shipping + $65.85 for a grand total of $204.85 plus tax in Texas the be obligated for no more charges since this is what the ToS was essentially requiring you to do. I didn't want automatic billing, just pay the $200. They would NOT let me do this. They said I was required to pay for the service for 3 consecutive months. I couldn't just pay it up front and be done with it. I had a feeling this would be the outcome, however hearing it still angered me. If anyone calls and is successful with this approach, please email me.

In other news, a good story over at Excite has an interesting take on this whole drama. Some of their facts seem a bit wishy-washy, but for the most part, it looks correct.

Apr 5, 2000 13:13
Well, guys, I don't know what to say. I've had a BARAGE of emails about Netpliance telling customers over the phone that they can no longer be shipped their units (units that were ordered in the 16th-20th range mind you) until they agree to the NEW terms of service with the $499 catch-all. If you're not sure what this is, the new Netpliance terms of service state that if you cancel the ISP service within 90 days and keep the unit, they have the right to charge the credit card the unit was ordered on an additional $499. Here is an excert from one of the many emails I have received:

I just got off the phone with a customer service rep with Netpliance. She
told me the following:
- My unit, ordered on March 16th, was still in Taiwan.
- The stories about a holiday or the IO were in route were LIES. They had no
direction from management as to what to tell customers, so they lied.
- The old IO has been discontinued and been replaced by a new model (The
"un-hackable" goo & cut-pin IO)
- She read me the service agreement that needed my approval before the new
model could be shipped from Taiwan.
- The agreement states (roughly): Customer will be billed 2 days after
shipping, 30-day money back guarantee if the seals are not broken and the IO
is still in new condition, Customer will pay for 90 days of the internet
service @ $20+ per month, If customer stops the internet service, he will be
billed $499 for the full retail price of the IO.

I don't know what you guys think, but to me this is serious misrepresentation and close to downright fraud. Email me and let me know what you guys think about this. I'm a little more than just a tad perturbed about this whole situation (especially since I still have not received mine).

Apr 5, 2000 13:06
An individual, who would like to remain anonymous emailed me the following memo from NetPliance.

From: Kristi Copeland
Sent: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 8:52 AM
To: David Young; Denine Kennedy; Amy VanWyngarden
Subject: Scripting for Backordered customers
Importance., High
This is the text of the letters and email that we're sending to all the suspect hacker customers.
Dear Mr./Ms. Customer. We are contacting you regarding the i-opener that you recently ordered from us. The product you ordered was discontinued. The new model is the same price and includes all the same benefits. This lefter/email is to verify that you would like us to ship the new, modified i-opener and to confirm that you agree to our purchase agreement below-. By purchasing the i-opener you are agreeing to use i-opener service of $21.95, which will be billed approximately 2 days after your i-opener is shipped to you. If you decide to deactivate your account within 90 days of receipt, a deactivation fee of $499 will be billed to your credit card, Your i-opener includes a 30-day money back guarantee. The i-opener system can be returned for a full refund if it is returned to us in -new condition with all components and the seal on the physical hardware intact. to confirm your order.
We look forward to hearing from you
Kristi Copeland Director - Sales and Support Netpliance, Inc. Tel: 512-498-3990 Fax: 512-493-8498

I love .com!
Here's my recreation of a call to netpliance to cancel your service:
Customer: "Hi, I'd like to cancel my i-opener internet service."
Rep: "Sure, no problem. May I ask why you would like to cancel our service?"
Customer: "Well after using a cable modem on my previous computer, dial-up is just too slow. Also the fact that I cannot enjoy and Java, Flash, or Shockwave media on the Internet is a real drag."
Rep: "That's too bad. Now you're sure you want to cancel your service?"
Customer: "Yes, cancel my service please."
Rep: "Sure no problem, we actually encourage customers to cancel their service."
Customer: "Why?"

Adam Serediuk
Apr 5, 2000 12:09
Our first hack for the unhackable i-Openers is here. For you guys getting units with the 4 IDE pins clipped off, wiggles sent up this fix for that little problem:


Just dropping you a note to let you know that a complete write-up is as
of now available on my website at

as to how to connect an HD to the new I-Op's with clipped IDE pins. This
hack was named the official hack of the #i-opener-linux channel sometime
last night/this morning.

This hack does not solve any BIOS related issues, it is assumed that

(1) you have an old-sk00l bios that recognizes HD's fine
(2) you have somehow managed to modify your new-sk00l bios to act like

An additional tutorial on the best way to achieve (2) will be made
available from my website soon.

- wiggles

Apr 4, 2000 21:00

Hmm.. over the past few days, we have been recieving emails from people
who have been having problems with getting their I-Openers from Netpliance.

Apparently, I-Opener may have placed the orders, which where made during the period between March 16th through March 20th/23rd, on a "hold-till-they-call" status, at which point, they will read you your new terms of service agreement.

As for the Circuit City I-Openers, from the reports recieved through emails sent to us by would-be I-Opener owners, Netpliance may have issued a "recall" statement to Circuit City regarding "manufacturer's defect" on the I-Opener. Wonder if they might have been referring to the four cut pins. :)

Is it just me or did Netpliance originally make the claim that orders on or before March the 20th will be honoured as per before the new terms of service came up?

I surely hope this isn't any indication of how they plan on handling the "Dev Corner" portion of their business.

Wish there was good news to post, but hey, when lemons are tossed your way, make lemonade, right? :)

Keep the emails coming. :) We ARE reading them, but for the oddest reason, life keeps us busy. ^_-

Apr 3, 2000 17:21
Well, Folks... It appears we have our first confirmed report of modified i-Openers being shipped from Netpliance. According to a user on the scsiboy mailing list, the new devices have a BIOS revision date of 3/23/2000 PLUS epoxy on the physical BIOS chip to deter removal. This particular unit was shipped on 3/29, so if you haven't gotten yours yet or are not sure if it has yet shipped, you might be in for a surprise.

More news on the new units. The good news is that it appears that you can still get into the BIOS using the CTRL-ALT-ESC key sequence. The bad news, however, is that Netpliance has clipped 4 of the pins from the IDE header to prevent attaching IDE devices to the i-Opener.

Apr 2, 2000 23:33
This is cool:

Woo-hoo! There be BIOS logos a'changin!
Click on "Day 3" for today's hack:
- 8 pictures showing me gettin' funky with the cable.
The last cable pic (adapt8.jpg) shows evidence that
the plastic housing of the i-opener was probably used
in another, more expandable, design.
- 3 pictures of the boot logo hack described below:

1) Acquire AWDFLASH.EXE 6.31
- This is the BIOS flasher you'll use to extract your old BIOS
image (which will also help you tell if running through the
tutorial or letting the unit be "updated" affects your BIOS)
2) Acquire CBROM130.EXE
- This is the utility you'll use to examine the contents of the
BIOS ROM dump and modify it accordingly. They were really
nice, including a /logo option for changing (ta-dah!) boot
logo screens.
3) Boot to straight DOS. In Win9x, will usually mean adding
a BootGUI=0 line to your C:\CONFIG.SYS file. You may have
to use ATTRIB.EXE to make the file writable first.

4) When booting, hold down the SHIFT key to prevent loading of
EMM386.EXE or anything else that ASDFLASH.EXE tells you it
doesn't like.
5) Help for AWDFLASH and CBROM in case you get confused:
CBROM130 /?
6) Extract your old BIOS ROM to a file:
AWDFLASH /Pn mybios.bin
7) Copy your old BIOS ROM somewhere safe:
COPY mybios.bin mybios.bak

8) We assume you already have a favorite .BMP of a penguin or daemon
handy. (640x464, 16 colors, Windows BMP)
9) For kicks, examine your old BIOS ROM:
CBROM130 mybios.bin /D
See the various components there? The one we're after is the logo
bitmap, by default "welcome.bmp"
10) Rewrite your old BIOS ROM:
CBROM130 mybios.bin /logo penguin.bmp
This overwrites mybios.bin, creating the file for your new BIOS.
If your logo is too complicated and doesn't compress well, you
may run out of space. You can use CBROM to tell you whether or
not your BIOS image with the new logo is "full" or not.
11) Assuming you didn't run out of space, flash your new BIOS and
just for paranoia's sake, make another backup.
AWDFLASH mybios.bin /Py oldbios.bak /Sy
12) Reboot - and pray for the best! As usual, don't try this unless
you're prepared to take the risk of turning your i-opener into a

This too:

I have just added a section to my web page about Controlling the LEDs
under DOS and Windows. Included is a link to a .ZIP file with six
programs I wrote -- on, off, and toggle for each LED. The .ZIP includes
the (trivial) assembly language source and a 9 byte .COM file for each
function. Many thanks to Roastbeef for doing the research to find out
what port and bits control the LEDs.

Adam Serediuk
Apr 2, 2000 0:40
Steven M. Doyle wrote a device driver to control the led's. Instructions follow and driver is here **UPDATED VERSION**

/sbin/insmod ioled.o
mknod /dev/ioled c 10 240
echo 13 >/dev/ioled # Turn both lights on
echo 02 >/dev/ioled # Turn both lights off
echo 1 >/dev/ioled # Turn Mail light on
echo 3 >/dev/ioled # Turn Phone light on
echo 0 >/dev/ioled # Turn Mail light off
echo 2 >/dev/ioled # Turn Phone light off

Here is a more detailed account on how to do it. Thanks to Robert Rose

I/O Port 404C:
bit 0=mail LED (0=LED turned on, 1=LED off)
bit 1=Telephone LED (0=LED turned on, 1=LED off)

Note that you *MUST* read/modify/write this register and preserve the other
bits!!!! (Or your system will require a AC power removal to reset)

The port address *should* be identical all the time, but just in case it's
not: In PCI config space look at Bus 0, Device 0, Function 4 (Vendor=1106
Device=3057) dword register 48. This is the I/O port base for power
management control (with bit 0 always OR'ed on). Add offset x'4C' to this
value to get the correct base address.

Andy Brezinsky
Apr 1, 2000 2:57
NetPliance's Developer's Corner dropped me and eMail today, announcing their "Developer 100 Pilot Program." Basically their are offering 100 free I-Opener's to developers. This sounds good in all aspects, but one has to consider the entire picture. In less words, NetPliance is using the open source community to do their R&D for future I-Opener devices. There's nothing overly wrong with this, you're getting a free i-opener. People in the consulting industry are usually paid a lot more than $99 though :P It's good to see NetPliance using this situation to their advantage. One would hope that other companies will use this as a lesson to not act harshly over matters like this.
I know that I for one will enter into the 100 Pilot Program.

On another note, you probably have noticed a lack of news postings in the last week. There is simply no new news regarding the I-Opener. Sure, we could post every link to every piece of hardware that could be used in the I-Opener, but that wouldn't be too much fun now would it. Do you have any insightful idea's as to what we can do with the site to bring it back to it's good ol' self again? Email us at and we'll be sure to give it consideration.

Adam Serediuk
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