Previous Section
Next Section

Installing an Image to Internal Flash

This topic will give you detailed steps on how to back up the existing iPAQ operating system and how to "burn" a new image onto your iPAQ's internal flash. This is a persistent installation which will remain even after a hardware reset. With the copy of your original operating system, you will be able to restore the iPAQ to its original state.

Installation Overview

The iPAQ hardware uses flash memory to store the vital code needed to boot the hardware, the operating system and its applications. This document will explain how you can replace the default iPAQ boot loader with a version from Compaq Research and in turn install a custom version of the QNX operating system into its internal flash.

Warning: You must follow these steps carefully. It is possible to effectively destroy your iPAQ or permanently lose its original operating system. This document attempts to make the process as simple as possible, but the success of this installation is ultimately in your hands. Please read this document thoroughly before beginning your installation.
Once you have performed this installation, you will have a new operating system and boot loader on your iPAQ. You will be able to develop software with the use of the iPAQ Reference Platform and a QNX development environment. You may download the free development environment from or purchase the Windows or Solaris toolset from QNX directly.

If you are not interested in developing new software for the iPAQ, you will find a number of demonstration applications, including an embedded web browser. When you are finished evaluating the demo image, you can restore your original operating system if you have made backups, as described in this document.

Preparing for the Installation

[10 Minutes + 30 Minutes to Install Active Sync and Reboot]

This document assumes you have an iPAQ with the original operating system, Microsoft's PocketPC. If you have already installed another operating system such as Linux you will need to restore the iPAQ to its original state. If you have previously installed QNX onto your iPAQ, you should follow the document on updating the iPAQ image.

Please review the following notes before you begin the installation process:

Step 1: BootBlaster: Backing Up PocketPC and Upgrade the Bootloader

[10-15 Minutes]

The installation process will replace your current PocketPC operating system. It is important that you make a backup of the current flash memory in case you want to uninstall the iPAQ Reference Platform.

The following steps have been tested on Windows 2000 with Active Sync 3.5:

  1. Attach the cradle to allow Active Sync to establish a connection between your iPAQ and Windows.
  2. Open My Computer -> Mobile Device -> My Pocket PC -> My Documents
  3. Copy BootBlaster_1.17.exe to My Pocket PC (The root directory of your device.)
  4. Copy bootldr.bin to the same location.
  5. To run BootBlaster on the iPaq, Select the Windows Menu->Programs Folder->File Explorer, navigate to the "My Documents" directory of your device, and launcher BootBlaster.
  6. To Backup the WinCE and Bootloader in BootBlaster:
    1. Select Flash->Save WinCE .gz Format
    2. Wait until the image has been transferred, you should see a progress bar.
    3. The flash file will be saved into My Documents on your iPAQ as wince_image.gz.
    4. Select Flash->Save Bootloader .gz Format
    5. Saving the bootloader shouldn't take more than a few seconds.
    6. The bootloader will be saved into My Documents on your iPAQ as save_bootloader.gz
    7. Copy the bootldr and flash files onto your PC. This will be these files you use to restore your iPAQ.
    8. Once you copy these files, delete them from your iPAQ, they are quite large.
  7. To Install the Compaq Bootloader in BootBlaster:
    1. Select Flash->Programs
    2. You will see a dialog warning you about the dangers of installing a new boot loader.
    3. Select, Yes, to continue.
    4. Choose the bootldr file in the file selection dialog.
    5. You should see a dialog confirming the file you have selected and asking you to proceed. The file should be "My Documents/bootldr.bin".
    6. Select, Yes, to continue.
    7. Wait until the transfer is complete, you should see a progress bar.
    8. You should see a dialog confirming that you have installed an Open HandHeld (OHH) bootloader.
    9. At this point, your iPAQ is still fully functional and will boot WinCE if you do not hold the center of joypad down while rebooting.

Step 2: Installing QNX's iPAQ Reference Platform

[1-2 Hours, depending on your PC]

At this point, you can relax. The critical installation process has been completed and you will now transfer the image of the iPAQ Reference Platform to the internal flash of your iPAQ. This takes a substantial amount of time due to the slow transmission rate over the serial connection.

Here are the steps to install the QNX image:

  1. Hold the center of the joypad down and reset your iPAQ.
  2. You should see a QNX splash screen; at this point, your iPAQ is ready to talk to another computer over the serial connection on the bottom of the iPAQ.
  3. Setup Hyperterminal on Windows or qtalkx on QNX to talk to your iPAQ.
  4. From the QNX splash screen, press the Serial Debug key.
  5. press return in your terminal You should get a "boot>" prompt.
  6. From the "boot>" prompt, type "eflash 0x40000" to erase the first WinCE sector.
  7. From the "boot>" prompt, type "load flash 0x80000"
  8. From your terminal, start an XModem transfer of the file: ifs.
  9. Wait for this transfer to successfully complete. If the transfer fails, resend the file.
  10. From the "boot>" prompt, type "load flash 0x100000".
  11. From your terminal, start an XModem transfer of the file: efs.
  12. This transfer may take over an hour, depending on many factors, including the speed of your PC.
  13. Wait for this transfer to successfully complete. If the transfer fails, resend the file.
  14. From the "boot>" prompt, type "reset".

Installation Complete

Congratulations, you have now installed QNX's Non-Commerical iPAQ Reference Platform. You will be able to experiment with our demonstration applications or begin writing your own applications.

If you read through the rest of these documents you can easily learn how to develop your own software or customize the environment to your liking. We encourage you to use this as a basis for experimental development of small form factor devices for a wide range of vertical markets. Please visit the QNX community on IRC (, #qnx, #qpaq) or visit the QNX iPAQ community web site (
Previous Section