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Is the flash optimized IRLP generally available?

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  • n8vjp
    Although I have not purchased the embedded node, I built my own using a spare mini-itx board and 2GB Flash disk I had lying around. While the node works fine
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 10, 2008
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      Although I have not purchased the embedded node, I built my own using
      a spare mini-itx board and 2GB Flash disk I had lying around. While
      the node works fine with the CentOS install, I was hoping to find the
      embedded version available as a self install. Running from RAM will
      of course lengthen the life of the flash and improve overall
      performance. Not to mention the smaller than 2gb footprint.
    • Randy Hammock
      ... When building an embedded system, the OS install is usually highly customized for the hardware being used, making a pre-built package harder to create.
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 11, 2008
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        On Dec 10, 2008, at 11:47 PM, n8vjp wrote:

        > Although I have not purchased the embedded node, I built my own using
        > a spare mini-itx board and 2GB Flash disk I had lying around. While
        > the node works fine with the CentOS install, I was hoping to find the
        > embedded version available as a self install. Running from RAM will
        > of course lengthen the life of the flash and improve overall
        > performance. Not to mention the smaller than 2gb footprint.

        When building an embedded system, the OS install is usually highly
        customized for the hardware being used, making a pre-built package
        harder to create. Dave uses Slackware Linux for his embedded nodes.

        For example, I'm running two embedded Asterisk nodes. They both boot
        from a 128MB CF and run a system with 512MB RAM. One on an Intel mini-
        ITX (running Asterisk based repeater) and the other on a Via mini-ITX
        (running Asterisk<>IRLP node). They take two completely different
        builds even though they are running the same version of Limey-Linux.

        --
        Randy Hammock KC6HUR
        http://kc6hur.net/~rhammock/
        http://irlp.kc6hur.net/
        If there are no horses in heaven, then when I die, I want to go where
        they went.
      • n8vjp
        I understand the need to compile the kernel with support for the various hardware devices present. I guess I was hoping that one of three responses would be
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 11, 2008
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          I understand the need to compile the kernel with support for the
          various hardware devices present. I guess I was hoping that one of
          three responses would be given...

          1) There was a CD iso build used to create the embedded install.
          2) The embedded build was compatible with my VIA EPIA CL6000E
          3) The scripts/programs needed to make a standard IRLP build run/sync
          from/to RAM would be available.

          Since you have created you own two, how did you address the issue of
          limiting read/writes to the flash device?

          -N8VJP
          John
        • ve7ltd
          The short answer is no. It is not packaged in such a way that it is customizable for any mini-ITX motherboard. To save drive space, everything from the
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 11, 2008
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            The short answer is no. It is not packaged in such a way that it is
            customizable for any mini-ITX motherboard. To save drive space,
            everything from the ethernet and sound to the IDE chipset is compiled
            into the kernel, with absolutely no outlying modules to support any
            changes.

            This is why I use specific motherboards when building the system.

            I am not sure what the CL6000E is, or how it differs from an ML or ME
            6000, but I have sold a pre-loaded flash card to some people with
            "similar" boards. Unfortunately, several people have had problems with
            booting/support, and I have been unable to help them.

            To transform a full CentOS onto a small flash device is impossible.
            You would be better to start with a compressed system such as
            Slackware and cut out any extra pieces, like I did for the embedded
            OS. This process took me close to 30 hours of work, and several more
            hundred hours of testing.

            Of course you could use a 4GB flash device, and just load it onto the
            flash drive, and run it from there. The concept of read/write cycles
            (which is not the issue it used to be) led me to designing my systems
            they way I do.

            What results is an image that is 128megs large, complete with the
            allocated spare space. This is flashed onto the flash drive, the
            computer is booted and customized, saved, and shipped.

            The layout of the flash is as such:

            12MB is the OS
            12MB is the IRLP/Echolink setup
            4MB is reserved for logfiles etc.
            16MB is shared with the video card

            That leaves close to 65 megs that is unused for filesystem edits, IRLP
            logs, custom audio, etc. The newer systems going out use a 256M flash
            card and 512M of RAM, which allows another 128 Megs for customizations.

            So if you want to try a preloaded flash card, I sell a preloaded 256M
            flash device for $100. You will require at least 512M of RAM.

            Also included in the embedded nodes are all internal wiring, such that
            only a single DB-9 is required.

            Dave Cameron
            VE7LTD

            --- In irlp-embedded@yahoogroups.com, "n8vjp" <n8vjp@...> wrote:
            >
            > I understand the need to compile the kernel with support for the
            > various hardware devices present. I guess I was hoping that one of
            > three responses would be given...
            >
            > 1) There was a CD iso build used to create the embedded install.
            > 2) The embedded build was compatible with my VIA EPIA CL6000E
            > 3) The scripts/programs needed to make a standard IRLP build run/sync
            > from/to RAM would be available.
            >
            > Since you have created you own two, how did you address the issue of
            > limiting read/writes to the flash device?
            >
            > -N8VJP
            > John
            >
          • n8vjp
            ... Dave, Thanks for the reply. I do have it running from a 2GB compact flash right now (Sandisk Extreme IV, faster than most notebook HDD), but maybe I am
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 11, 2008
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              > Of course you could use a 4GB flash device, and just load it onto the
              > flash drive, and run it from there. The concept of read/write cycles
              > (which is not the issue it used to be) led me to designing my systems
              > they way I do.

              Dave,

              Thanks for the reply. I do have it running from a 2GB compact flash
              right now (Sandisk Extreme IV, faster than most notebook HDD), but
              maybe I am just overly paranoid about the read/write cycles. While I
              appreciate the offer of the preloaded Flash drive, I have a total
              investment into this box (all New Old Stock) of under $100, doubling
              that to support the OS is a little beyond my current scope.

              I'll keep plugging along with what I've got. I also have the CF
              cloned to a 3GB Notebook HDD, which sits nearby in case the CF fails.

              Thanks again for the replies.

              -N8VJP
              John
            • Nate Duehr
              ... John, Most consumer grade flash stuff nowadays has load leveling to keep from burning out a group of flash before the rest. But it s in blocks , and
              Message 6 of 9 , Dec 11, 2008
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                n8vjp wrote:

                > Thanks for the reply. I do have it running from a 2GB compact flash
                > right now (Sandisk Extreme IV, faster than most notebook HDD), but
                > maybe I am just overly paranoid about the read/write cycles. While I
                > appreciate the offer of the preloaded Flash drive, I have a total
                > investment into this box (all New Old Stock) of under $100, doubling
                > that to support the OS is a little beyond my current scope.

                John,

                Most consumer grade flash stuff nowadays has "load leveling" to keep
                from burning out a group of flash before the rest. But it's in
                "blocks", and each manufacturer picks their size.

                So *in general* you don't have to worry about it as much anymore. Just
                watch for disk I/O errors, and have backups and be prepared to replace
                the flash device if it acts up at all.

                Also, if you have enough RAM in the machine to support everything, not
                running any SWAP space on the "disk", would mean read/writes are
                minimized. You could get crazy and turn off things like logging, etc...
                if you were really worried.

                As one person who is in our local Linux Users Group here put it... "With
                16GB flash sticks going for $19.95 this Christmas, I just don't care
                anymore... keep backups of important stuff, throw the flash away when it
                finally dies and reload."

                Your mileage may vary, of course... depending on who's flash devices and
                how smart they are... and sometimes the "name brand" doesn't even knkow,
                since they're relying on the chipset manufacturer... so finding specs on
                it all is nigh impossible, on most of the cheaper stuff. :-)

                Nate WY0X
              • Rick Bates
                With the cost of computer memory so darn cheap (2 gig sticks for $24 lately even in the laptop flavor) wouldn t it make sense to use the flash device as a boot
                Message 7 of 9 , Dec 11, 2008
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                  With the cost of computer memory so darn cheap (2 gig sticks for $24 lately even in the laptop flavor) wouldn’t it make sense to use the flash device as a boot only device and then not worry about it (no external swap space)?  Am I missing the point?

                  The only time you’d have to write to the flash chip is when you updated the kernel and/or support software.  That can’t be all THAT often, even with nightly updates.  While I wouldn’t want to trust it on a hilltop with known lightning activity (Murhpy’s law says they’re still fragile for that environment) it should be fine where there is quick access (closet, RV, garage).

                  Is there a control that can be tripped so that if you want to shut down a hard drive (if you used that for booting) you could to save the energy (and bearings)?  Potential risks with that?

                  Rick

                  www.HappyMoosePhoto.com

                  Wildlife and scenic images


                  From: irlp-embedded@yahoogroups.com [mailto: irlp-embedded@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Nate Duehr
                  Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2008 3:28 PM
                  To: irlp-embedded@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [irlp-embedded] Re: Is the flash optimized IRLP generally available?

                   

                  Also, if you have enough RAM in the machine to support everything, not
                  running any SWAP space on the "disk", would mean read/writes are
                  minimized. You could get crazy and turn off things like logging, etc...
                  if you were really worried.

                  ___

                • Randy Hammock
                  ... There is a utility that copies all updates from the RAM back onto the CF for later reboots. The OS is basically compiled and a directory tree is configured
                  Message 8 of 9 , Dec 11, 2008
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                    On Dec 11, 2008, at 10:34 AM, n8vjp wrote:

                    > I understand the need to compile the kernel with support for the
                    > various hardware devices present. I guess I was hoping that one of
                    > three responses would be given...
                    >
                    > 1) There was a CD iso build used to create the embedded install.
                    > 2) The embedded build was compatible with my VIA EPIA CL6000E
                    > 3) The scripts/programs needed to make a standard IRLP build run/sync
                    > from/to RAM would be available.

                    There is a utility that copies all updates from the RAM back onto the
                    CF for later reboots. The OS is basically compiled and a directory
                    tree is configured to look like the structure used to make a Hard
                    Drive operate. That is then converted into an image file that is saved
                    to the CF along with other utilities that will boot , configure the
                    RAM, copy the image to RAM from the CF, start the image running, then
                    the CF is unmounted, so that it cannot be accessed unless it is
                    mounted. This keeps the CF from being used except when needed.

                    Bear in mind, custom ID files are not used, no PERL, PHP, apache and
                    other restrictions apply due to memory/CF storage limitations.

                    > Since you have created you own two, how did you address the issue of
                    > limiting read/writes to the flash device?

                    Only special boot loaders run from the CF but these do not do any
                    writing to the CF. As mentioned above, the OS image is copied from the
                    CF into RAM and that is what gets run.

                    Want to learn something about building an embedded system take a look
                    at the Limey-Linux site: http://limeylinux.org

                    --
                    Randy Hammock KC6HUR
                    http://kc6hur.net/~rhammock/
                    http://irlp.kc6hur.net/
                    If there are no horses in heaven, then when I die, I want to go where
                    they went.
                  • k9dc
                    ... I built a node for my mobile repeater based upon the VIA LN series motherboard, using a 2 GB IDE flash drive. I customized the Linux installation using no
                    Message 9 of 9 , Dec 17, 2008
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                      --- In irlp-embedded@yahoogroups.com, "n8vjp" <n8vjp@...> wrote:

                      > Since you have created you own two, how did you address the issue of
                      > limiting read/writes to the flash device?

                      I built a node for my mobile repeater based upon the VIA LN series
                      motherboard, using a 2 GB IDE flash drive. I customized the Linux
                      installation using no swap partition. The machine has 1 GB of RAM
                      (was only $8 more than 512M) The only other thing I did was
                      create another small ramdisk partition for /home/irlp/run where the
                      audio files are ground up. but in the grand scheme of things I doubt
                      that makes much difference.

                      I found that IRLP CentOS, had some strange audio artifacts on some
                      wav files. So I went back to FC3, which works perfect.

                      -k9dc
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