Linux on Realtek RTL8181 Logo
| home | devices | hacking | compat. | demo | toolchain | howto | participate | resources | | project page | news | forums | downloads |

RTL8181 Linux demo images

You can now evaluate and test the RTL8181 project's Linux kernels without actually having to go through all the steps of downloading, patching and compiling your own compiler, kernel and applications, and overwriting your board's native firmware in the process.
The demonstrative pre-compiled images available from this page are built to run from the board's RAM without destroying the existing content of the flash ROM. Simply download the image that suits your board type, TFTP it to your board in monitor mode, then issue a JUMP command to the load address to boot it. To return to ye olde firmware, just reboot (power cycle) the board.


The images come in 2 flavours: 8030 and 8050, depending on the TFTP upload address hard-coded in the board's boot code. Realtek's pre-2.0 versions of btcode (default on Edimax/Minitar boards) store the TFTP upload at address 0x80500000, while versions 2.0 and newer store the file at 0x80300000. Use image suffixed 8030 for address 0x80300000 and 8050 for 0x80500000. Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I put the board in monitor mode?
A: Instructions are here (basic) and here (advanced).

Q: How can I find the "80X00000" load address for my board?
A: TFTP any file to the board in monitor mode - the load address is the last number in the message returned by the board (TFTP Client Upload File Size: 00XXXXXX Bytes at 80X00000). Reboot the board to clean up the memory before uploading the actual image. And please do read the doc if you haven't yet.

Q: What commands are supported by the bundled busybox binary?
A: About a hundred or so. Type "busybox" without parameters to get the full list.

Q: What real-life use do you have in mind for these images?
A: None at all, they are strictly demo/testing images. Use them to boot your first Linux on your RTL8181 board without worries about frying it, evaluate the kernel's stability, find bugs, test the available features, benchmark the sucker till it screams (bonus points if you can crash it), test your own compiled programs and modules, show it to your friends, be the first guy (or gal) in your office / neighbourhood to run TCPDUMP (with full -vveX output) on a soapboax-size device, whatever, just forget about any "serious" real-life uses for now, because we're not there yet.

Q: Dude, where's the source?
A: The images are built using 100% open-source software:
- Linux kernel source:,
- RTL8181 patch and 2nd stage bootloader:,
- BusyBox:,
- TCPDump (and libpcap):
- uClibc:
If you want to play along, you'll need a cross-compilation toolchain as well -- we used the nonmips project's tc-0.1, available in source code from

Q: Can I load other programs to a running image?
A: Yes. Use the busybox built-in "wget" to download your programs from a HTTP server. If ramdisk space becomes a concern, use "rm" to reclaim some. The "BOFH" image, for example, should give you ~700K free space after removing the /sbin/tcpdump binary. All changes are volatile, so don't worry about breaking anything -- you can always reboot and start over.

Q: What's the status of MTD partitions and FTL support?
A: Work in progress - they are enabled in the kernel but not supported by the currently bundled ramdisk. If you want to play, make sure you understand what you're doing.

Q: What about wireless?
A: Should work as long as you don't brutalize it.

Q: It doesn't work.
A: Post your story on the testing forum, providing as much background information as possible (board type, console dumps etc) and someone may be able to help you.

Q: What's BOFH?
A: If you don't understand it at once, there's no point in explaining it to you :).

Copyright (c) 2003, 2004, Streetdata Pty Ltd