Someone else asked a question about a testing environment for modules and the answer on that was that you have to just test on ur live N5200.
That got me thinking tho and because the N5200 is so similar to a PC it should be possible to set up a Virtual N5200 VMware machine. The people can download the free VMware player and test to their hearts content.
I took a look at the firmware file in the hopes that I could just unpack it and copy the files across to the virtual filesystem, but alas, it was not to be. Does anyone out there know how I might be able to get the firmware onto a virtual machine (as I have access to VMware Server) so that I can share it with the community as an "appliance" as VMware call it?
Thecus, if you're out there listening, any chance you can help out there?
I think the most challenging about using vmware for a test-setup is the mapping of physical hardware into virtual hardware.
Various vmware-products take a physical disk and maps that into a virtual disk for their VM. This virtual disk requires a special driver in the VM to "run" the disk. If this driver is different from what thecus is using in their firmware, then you cant use the firmware directly on top a VM.
The same goes for the nettwork-interfaces and possible other hardware (flashrom.....).
To make this work the thecus firmware has to be modified to match the virtual hardware that a virtualization-product like vmware is presenting to their guest-os. Then it would be possible to use something like vmware to test a module.
But it cant be used to test the thecus hardware itself I think.
I guess I'm so used to it now. I use my various SVN repositories away from home as well and it's very convenient to be able to get at them using SSL via web proxies when stuck behind a corporate firewall. I host SVN on my main server which is just fine except that it only runs a simple two drive RAID and the drives aren't that big. Using Berkley DB over CIFS to a file server doesn't work either.
I'm rambling a bit... it's difficult to know where to draw the line sometimes. It might be best to have both options. I'm still getting familiar with the 5200 so I'll leave it open for now.