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My experience with the debian installation

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  • docgoeken2000
    I got a second NSLU2 and decided to upgrade it to debian. (My first slug has been running unslung for more than a year.) I wanted to document my experience
    Message 1 of 7 , Jan 3, 2007
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      I got a second NSLU2 and decided to upgrade it to debian. (My first
      slug has been running unslung for more than a year.) I wanted to
      document my experience with the upgrade in the belief that it may
      help the developers make a great product better.

      I first took the stock slug, modified it for 266 speed, and then
      formatted a 250 GB usb disk just to make sure everything was
      working. Then I flashed using the rc1 debian installer from www.slug-
      firmware.net. Rebooted, did the ssh and followed the installation
      instructions. Everything went well until the `Formatting Partitions'
      step. Kept stopping at the 33% mark - similar to what has been
      reported before. (Ref: [nslu2-general] Problem installing debain -
      (not my misspelling)) (However, previous posts were related to using
      a 1 GB memory stick and I am using a 250 GB hard drive.)

      I watched the drive's activity light and noticed that it was flashing
      (green/red) as I expected for awhile, then would turn inactive
      (green), flash again, repeat for a couple of cycles, and finally turn
      red at which time the slug was unresponsive. I noticed that the
      automatic partitioning set it up for about a 90 MB swap partition as
      discussed. I manually partitioned the drive to have a 1 GB swap
      partition and tried the formatting step again with the same results.

      I then started two ssh's to the slug – one running the installer and
      the other running a shell. I repeatedly did a `ps' from the shell
      during the installation. During the `Formatting Partition' step, I
      noticed the PID on the formatting process increasing in step with the
      inactive (green) cycle time discussed above.
      (Process: mkfs.ext3 /dev/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part1)
      The program was stopping and restarting.

      Previous posts suggest partitioning the drive on a Linux PC. But I
      thought that I would try using the debian installer's shell to do it
      manually. I walked thru the installation, doing a manual
      partitioning and then issuing the command
      mkfs.ext3 /dev/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part1
      from the shell window. (I hope I did not leave off any other command
      line arguments.) It ran for a while and then quit/failed. Tried
      again, ran to a different point and failed. (From the command line
      mkfs.ext3 counts up the inodes it has created). (I also tried both
      USB1 and USB2 ports.)

      At this point I thought I had a bad drive, so I reflashed the slug
      with unslung. Formatted the drive using its interface with no
      problems. So back to debian. Reflash, walk thru installation,
      manual partition, this time did a swapon command to use the newly
      created swap space, issued the mkfs.ext3 command. It again failed
      the first 4 or 5 times, but then it finally successfully went to
      completion!!! I do not know why it was finally successful (but at 2
      in the morning I was just thankful). The rest of the installation
      was successful except for a couple of packages not downloading
      correctly the first time.

      Have the problems reported been only with a 1 GB drive and is my
      problem unrelated since I'm using a 250 GB drive? Could there be a
      problem with the formatting program (mkfs.ext3)?

      Which usb port is the best port to use with debian? Another
      interesting issue – when I was successful, the drive was plugged into
      USB2. However, the slug's lights show Disk1 attached. If I switch
      the drive to the USB1 port, the slug still boots and the slug's light
      still show Disk1 attached.

      Another question: installation gave me a choice of 3 kernels to load,
      which is the best to use? (I am currently using '2.6.18-3-ixp4xx'.

      I have not seen it discussed (I may have missed it or I'm doing
      something wrong since I did load apache already), but it should be
      pointed out that the debian load removes the web interface to
      configure the debian slug. Not a problem, nor a surprise, just have
      not seen it discussed. Probably the same for the other non-Linksys
      based loads - correct?

      If any of the developers want me to try additional tests, I can delay
      loading additional packages on the debian slug before I put it into
      full time use.

      Sorry for the length and for some of the ramblings, but hope this
      helps.

      Dave


      Notes:

      This slug has been modified to run at 266.

      The command `fdisk -l /dev/sda' now reports:

      Disk /dev/sda: 250.0 GB, 250059350016 bytes
      255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 30401 cylinders
      Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

      Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
      /dev/sda1 * 1 30273 243167841 83 Linux
      /dev/sda2 30274 30401 1028160 5 Extended
      /dev/sda5 30274 30401 1028128+ 82 Linux swap /
      Solaris
    • Rod Whitby
      ... Can you run free repeatedly whilst it s creating the ext3 filesystem, to see if it s running out of memory? Also the output of dmesg after mkfs.ext3
      Message 2 of 7 , Jan 3, 2007
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        docgoeken2000 wrote:
        > I got a second NSLU2 and decided to upgrade it to debian. (My first
        > slug has been running unslung for more than a year.) I wanted to
        > document my experience with the upgrade in the belief that it may
        > help the developers make a great product better.
        >
        > If any of the developers want me to try additional tests, I can delay
        > loading additional packages on the debian slug before I put it into
        > full time use.

        Can you run "free" repeatedly whilst it's creating the ext3 filesystem,
        to see if it's running out of memory? Also the output of "dmesg" after
        mkfs.ext3 has failed would be useful.

        Thanks for documenting your experience and investigating the problem.

        -- Rod
      • Gordon Farquharson
        ... I have also seen the partitioner stop at 33% with a 250 GB hard drive, but I was using custom built installer images. However, I only saw the problem once
        Message 3 of 7 , Jan 3, 2007
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          On 1/3/07, docgoeken2000 <dgoeken@...> wrote:

          > I first took the stock slug, modified it for 266 speed, and then
          > formatted a 250 GB usb disk just to make sure everything was
          > working. Then I flashed using the rc1 debian installer from www.slug-
          > firmware.net. Rebooted, did the ssh and followed the installation
          > instructions. Everything went well until the `Formatting Partitions'
          > step. Kept stopping at the 33% mark - similar to what has been

          I have also seen the partitioner stop at 33% with a 250 GB hard drive,
          but I was using custom built installer images. However, I only saw the
          problem once or twice, and I think that I got a red error screen when
          the paritioner quit. For the early December daily build images
          (post-rc1), I don't remember experiencing this problem. Sounds like I
          should test out the daily build with 2.6.18-4-ixp4xx + the open source
          ethernet driver and NPE firmware in the next couple of days to see if
          I can reproduce the problem.

          > Have the problems reported been only with a 1 GB drive and is my
          > problem unrelated since I'm using a 250 GB drive? Could there be a
          > problem with the formatting program (mkfs.ext3)?

          I don't think so - I suspect that it is caused when the system runs
          out of memory, but I have not done extensive testing because I don't
          think that I ever saw the problem with rc1.

          > Which usb port is the best port to use with debian? Another
          > interesting issue – when I was successful, the drive was plugged into
          > USB2. However, the slug's lights show Disk1 attached. If I switch
          > the drive to the USB1 port, the slug still boots and the slug's light
          > still show Disk1 attached.

          The illumination of the Disk 1 LED is hardcoded in /etc/init.d/zleds.
          As far as I know, there isn't an implementation for automatically
          illuminating the disk LEDs for any of the non Linksys based firmwares
          - I could be wrong, but it is definitely not in Debian/NSLU2.

          > Another question: installation gave me a choice of 3 kernels to load,
          > which is the best to use? (I am currently using '2.6.18-3-ixp4xx'.

          This version is the latest kernel in testing. It has a few issues, but
          most of them have been worked out in unstable. Which versions were
          offered, BTW ?

          > If any of the developers want me to try additional tests, I can delay
          > loading additional packages on the debian slug before I put it into
          > full time use.

          Try looking at the memory usage (like Rod suggested) and let us know
          what you find.

          > Sorry for the length and for some of the ramblings, but hope this
          > helps.

          Not a problem. Thanks for sharing your experience.

          Gordon

          --
          Gordon Farquharson
        • Rod Whitby
          ... That is correct. -- Rod
          Message 4 of 7 , Jan 3, 2007
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            Gordon Farquharson wrote:
            > As far as I know, there isn't an implementation for automatically
            > illuminating the disk LEDs for any of the non Linksys based firmwares

            That is correct.

            -- Rod
          • docgoeken2000
            I did a reinstall of rc1 debian. I repeatedly ran, ps , dmesg , and free from a shell. Result: looks like the problem is caused from the system running
            Message 5 of 7 , Jan 5, 2007
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              I did a reinstall of rc1 debian. I repeatedly ran, "ps", "dmesg",
              and "free" from a shell.

              Result: looks like the problem is caused from the system running out
              of memory as suspected.

              free initially outputs a report like:

              total used free shared buffers
              Mem: 30080 19516 10564 0 0
              Swap: 0 0 0
              Total: 30080 19516 10564

              During the initial file downloads, the free value does drop to around
              5000 (from the 10564 above).

              Then swap space is created:
              Adding 546168k swap on /dev/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part5.
              Priority:-1 ext

              When mkfs.ext3 /dev/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/part1 started, free
              reports:

              total used free shared buffers
              Mem: 30080 28996 1084 0 7736
              Swap: 546168 16740 529428
              Total: 576248 45736 530512

              Before the formatting failed, I saw the free value drop below 700
              (from the 1084). However, when I really wanted the output from
              ps/dmesg/free, the shell was frozen from the formatter failing on the
              slug.

              Some of the failures did produce a red error screen. Again this time
              the formatter failed 4 or 5 times and then was successful. This time
              I was successful in doing the formatting from the install gui.

              dmesg did report:
              Out of memory: Killed process 21308 (mkfs.ext3).
              Out of memory: Killed process 23487 (mkfs.ext3).

              I did some cut and paste from the ssh window and put it in a text
              file. It's not pretty, but if you are interested in seeing the raw
              info, the file can be found here:
              http://goeken.homedns.org/Weather/nslu2/InstallOutput.txt
              I tried to put a few notes in it. In addition, it looks like the
              first part of the output from dmesg gets truncated when the output
              gets large. If you need me to comment it more or to format it
              better, let me know.

              Not sure which mirror I used the first time, but this time, I was not
              given a choice of kernels. I started with whatever was the first
              mirror choice, but file downloads from it failed, so I had to switch
              to another mirror for this install.

              Does it matter which usb port to use as the boot device with debian?

              What should I be using for a swap space size? (I tried 559.3 MB this
              install.)

              Hope this helps,
              Dave
            • Kurt Pruenner
              ... Well, the default behaviour of the linux kernel is to kill processes that use more memory than is physically available, no matter how much swap there is.
              Message 6 of 7 , Jan 7, 2007
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                docgoeken2000 wrote:
                > dmesg did report:
                > Out of memory: Killed process 21308 (mkfs.ext3).
                > Out of memory: Killed process 23487 (mkfs.ext3).

                Well, the default behaviour of the linux kernel is to kill processes
                that use more memory than is physically available, no matter how much
                swap there is.

                Try running

                echo 2 > /proc/sys/vm/overcommit_memory
                echo 80 > /proc/sys/vm/overcommit_ratio

                in a shell before creating the file systems but after activating swap,
                that should help.

                Here's some more info on the problem:

                http://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/lk/lk-9.html#ss9.6

                --
                Kurt Bernhard Pruenner --- Haendelstrasse 17 --- 4020 Linz --- Austria
                .......It might be written "Mindfuck", but it's spelt "L-A-I-N".......
                np: Boris Kauer/Autocyklus - Time Control (Für Dich)
              • Martin Michlmayr
                ... This sounds really interesting. Unfortunately, it doesn t seem to work. I made some settings and have enough swap but the ssh/mkfs.ext3 process is still
                Message 7 of 7 , Jan 8, 2007
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                  * Kurt Pruenner <leak_usenet@...> [2007-01-07 15:40]:
                  > > Out of memory: Killed process 21308 (mkfs.ext3).
                  > > Out of memory: Killed process 23487 (mkfs.ext3).
                  >
                  > Well, the default behaviour of the linux kernel is to kill processes
                  > that use more memory than is physically available, no matter how much
                  > swap there is.
                  >
                  > Try running
                  > echo 2 > /proc/sys/vm/overcommit_memory
                  > echo 80 > /proc/sys/vm/overcommit_ratio

                  This sounds really interesting. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to
                  work. I made some settings and have enough swap but the ssh/mkfs.ext3
                  process is still being killed.

                  total used free shared buffers
                  Mem: 30000 28728 1272 0 5624
                  Swap: 96348 4692 91656

                  --
                  Martin Michlmayr
                  http://www.cyrius.com/
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