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RFC: Replacement of maintenance mode with a new upgrade mode web page

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  • Rod Whitby
    Due to all the reported problems and confusion regarding Maintenance Mode in Unslung 4.20, the development team is considering a proposal to remove Maintenance
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2005
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      Due to all the reported problems and confusion regarding Maintenance
      Mode in Unslung 4.20, the development team is considering a proposal
      to remove Maintenance Mode altogether and use the built-in RedBoot
      Upgrade Mode to perform all firmware upgrades. This email will
      describe that proposal and seek comments. In the absence of serious
      technical objections, the proposal will be implemented in the next
      release of the Unslung firmware.

      What this all means is that the current web upgrade page would be
      replaced by a new page which does not actually upgrade the firmware,
      but simply puts the NSLU2 into the built-in RedBoot Upgrade Mode
      (alternately flashing red and green status LED) ready for the firmware
      to be "pushed" to it using the Windows SerComm Upgrade tool or the
      Linux UpSlug tool. There would no longer be any means to upgrade
      firmware using the web interface alone - you would always require
      either the Windows SerComm Upgrade tool, or the Linux UpSlug tool, or
      RedBoot telnet access, to flash new firmware onto the NSLU2.

      The major benefit of this proposal is that the RedBoot Upgrade Mode
      works irrespective of which version of the Linksys, Unslung or
      OpenSlug firmware you have previously loaded, so it is guaranteed to
      work the same for all future versions, and we can finally document a
      single, simple upgrade procedure. You can also enter the RedBoot
      Upgrade Mode by holding in the reset button at power-on, or by typing
      "upgrade" at the RedBoot command line. The RedBoot Upgrade Mode is
      part of the built-in bootloader, which is not modified when you flash
      new firmware.

      The only potential downside of this proposal is if a user is unable to
      get the Windows SerComm Upgrade tool or the Linux UpSlug tool to work
      in their environment. At that point, they still have the fallback
      option of flashing the new firmware via RedBoot telnet access. Note
      that the ability to access RedBoot via telnet is a pre-condition of
      using the Unslung firmware (it is rule #5 on the www.nslu2-linux.org
      homepage, and has been listed in the README file for every version of
      Unslung since day one), so we are guaranteed that anyone who has
      loaded Unslung firmware also has verified RedBoot telnet access (if
      they don't, then they didn't follow the rules, and therefore don't
      deserve to be running Unslung firmware).

      Also, note that once the RedBoot Upgrade Mode has been entered, you
      cannot go back to the previously loaded firmware- you *must* flash new
      firmware onto the device. There will be sufficient warnings on the
      upgrade web page to make sure that users are aware of this fact.

      The technical details follow:

      1/ There would be a single upgrade.htm file which would be identical
      in both the jffs2 rootfs and any external rootfs. A single "Enter
      Upgrade Mode" button would call a new upgrademode.cgi script.
      2/ The existing maintmode.cgi script would be replaced with a new
      upgrademode.cgi script, and that new script would simply overwrite the
      last block of the flash partition (/dev/mtdblock5) with all zeros
      (thereby removing the SerComm trailer checkmark), and then reboot the
      NSLU2.
      3/ When the NSLU2 reboots, the RedBoot bootloader will recognise that
      the SerComm trailer checkmark has been removed, and will automatically
      enter RedBoot Upgrade Mode.
      4/ RedBoot Upgrade Mode waits (indefinitely) for a connection from
      either the Windows SerComm Upgrade Tool, or the Linux UpSlug tool, and
      receives the new firmware from that tool. There is no easy way to get
      past this point without flashing new firmware which restores the
      SerComm trailer checkmark.
      5/ The NSLU2 reboots into the new firmware, and all is good with the world.

      We are looking for serious technical objections only. Objections
      along the lines of "I can't be bothered working out how to get RedBoot
      telnet access" or "I can't be bothered downloading the Windows SerComm
      Upgrade tool or the Linux UpSlug tool" will be met with a response of
      "We can't be bothered having you as a community member - good luck and
      goodbye". If you have a genuine technical situation where either of
      those tools is not sufficient, then we are happy to discuss that.
      Note that getting your Windows IP or subnet address wrong, or using a
      10MB hub, are not valid problem situations.

      Please post serious technical objections to the nslu2-linux mailing
      list only (as that is the place were changes to the firmware are
      discussed).

      -- Rod
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