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Status of Debian Boot Project

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  • James Stewart
    I got the latest 38MB Debian (from http://kuro.kaguya.biz/data/) to boot on a spare hard drive that I swapped into my linkstation. 1) I had put the drive in a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 16, 2004
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      I got the latest 38MB Debian (from http://kuro.kaguya.biz/data/) to
      boot on a spare hard drive that I swapped into my linkstation.

      1) I had put the drive in a Linux workstation, partitioned it,
      formatted it, etc.

      2) I "un-tarred" the tarbell into the first partition.

      3) I then copyied over /lib/modules/2.4.17-mv... (the kernel modules
      directory) over to it from my V1.44 Linkstation OS.

      4) I recreated some "node" files in /dev that existed on the
      Linkstation's OS, but not the 36MB Debian. Things like /dev/wdt
      (watchdog timer), /dev/fl0 - 5 (flash memory access), and a couple
      of other things (all had a major node number of "10"). I expect
      that the thing would have still booted without doing #3 & #4 above,
      but I was being extra cautious.

      5) Two users on the Debian were suppose to be "root" and "tmp-kun"
      with passwords same as the names for both, but it didn't seem to
      work, also the telnet wouldn't let you log in as "root" anyway
      (granted for good reason, but anyway to overide this?). So I
      cleared the password out of /etc/shadow for "tmp-kun" and "root",
      changed permissions of /etc/shadow, to "666" booted up on the drive
      and logged in as "tmp-kun". I attempted to "su" to root, but it
      demanded a password even though there was none, so I run "passwd" to
      change to password of "tmp-kun" so somthing so I could then copy the
      same encrypted version over to root, but then that process had
      re-restricted access to /etc/shadow! So out the drive came and back
      into my workstation again. (Could I have cleared the "*"
      from /etc/passwd's root entry and avoided this?). So in the
      workstation I copied the encrypted password over and returned the
      drive and rebooted the Linkstation. I logged in as "tmp-kun" then
      "su root" entered the same password and "Got Root".

      6) Oh, and the IP was If you need to change it,
      edit /etc/network/interfaces.

      7) After this I changed the urls in /etc/apt/sources.list to point
      at Debian "unstable" (and to a closer site than Japan), and did an
      "apt-get dist-upgrade" to get everything updated to the latest and
      greatest. That all worked great.

      8) I added and deleted a few software entries from the system, but
      didn't go "hog wild" like I did with my "chroot" environment over on
      the original drive.

      The idea was that I wanted to keep this image small, but up-to-date
      in case we want to then distribute this thing as a Debian image for
      other Linkstations. Here is the problem: Who has 40MB or so of
      public space to host this thing? If someone wants it, I can get it
      to them somehow for hosting, but I really don't have the upsteam
      bandwidth to host it myself.

      Because of this problem, I think I'll return to my original project
      of trying to get "debootstrap" to work because then we just need to
      distribute a small (under a meg) little tarbell that you untar and

      Here is where I could use some ideas: There seems to be a few ways
      to go about this. One is to do a "cross-debootrap" where you put
      the drive in a non native machine (like your PC) that boots up in
      Linux (a bootable CD like "Knoppix" would be fine too I think) and
      build the whole thing off line.

      The other way is to use the Linkstation OS itself for this. It
      looks like I'll have to distribute a few missing binaries like
      "md5sum", "sort", "wget", etc., so "debootstrap" would work, but all
      this wouldn't amount to much. The problem will be how to transition
      to it. It seems to me that you would have to build the file system
      somewhere else (like /dev/hda3, like I did for my "chroot"
      environment), but then, for it to boot, you have to somehow move it
      back to /dev/hda1 (and probably make /dev/hda1 bigger anyway unless
      you want to either keep is small or move /usr to hda3 or something).
      How do you do that while running the OS on /dev/hda1 at the same
      time? Can I use the "EM" mode as describe below?

      Since both of these methods get ugly too, I think the most ideal
      thing is to figure out how the Buffalo firmware upgrader does it and
      use (mis-use) that mechanism somehow. I guess I need to take the
      drive out of the Linkstation and force it into what the Kuro-box
      forum people call the "EM" mode and see if I can figure out how it
      works. Again, I'm afraid: I guess there is a string of "NGNGNGNG"s
      (No-Good?) writen into one of the flash regions to flag the
      bootloader about what is going on. To get it to boot a drive again,
      you have to write a string of "OKOKOK"s (OK) to it. It seems like
      you can telnet into the "EM" OS at any time and do stuff, but again
      I don't want to risk turning the thing into a useless brick.

      Be patient, hopefully someday we'll figure out how to make all this


      Looking around on the forums on the revgear site, it looks like
      while two people have successfully compiled and installed their own
      kernels, two others turned their Linkstation/kuro-boxes into
      doorstops. Not good. There are some projects forming to try to
      write a better bootloader so that replacing kernels isn't so
      dangerous! I would really like to run a more capable kernel on my
      Linkstation, but I am very afraid at this point. For awhile, I
      would even settle for the Kuro-box kernel, which seems to have most
      of the stuff I want anyway. It kind of makes me wish I bought a
      Kuro-box instead, but I didn't know about them at the time. Has
      anyone been brave enough to try installing the Kuro-box firmware
      (which I'm assuming also installs the Kuro-box kernel in flash) on
      the Linkstation and have it work?
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