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Re: Differences in Debian arm versions for NSLU - homework for LUG talk

Andrew M.A. Cater wrote:
> I appreciate this is cheeky :) I've to prepare a talk for my local LUG 
> for Tuesday next.

You might find http://www.nslu2-linux.org/presentation.pdf useful ... I
can provide the PPT source file if you want to cut and paste from it.

> I've got a couple of NSLU2's here - I've installed OpenSlug and Debian
> armel a few times on Slugs before. I've read the nslu2-linux.org website 
> a few times and looked briefly at the Debonaras pages.

The Debonaras pages are in a state of disrepair, so I wouldn't take them
as gospel.

> Can anybody help me to explain in more depth the differences between 
> Debian versions? Is armeb effectively dead or did it just morph into
> one of the versions needed for Debonaras?

Debian armeb (old ABI) is effectively dead as far as I am concerned, and
I've not seen anyone able to compile nslu2 firmware with armeb EABI yet
(I've tried and failed myself using OpenEmbedded).

There is a group that was trying to revive it, but I've heard nothing
from them in quite a while.

The original reason for Debian armeb was cause the ethernet driver would
only work BE.  That was solved over 1.5 years ago, and there is now an
open source replacement driver anyway which is endian neutral.

Some talk about relative networking speed of BE and LE on the NSLU2, but
if you're looking for blazing network speed, then don't use an NSLU2 in
the first place, cause the slow USB disk access is the bottleneck anyway.

> Can anybody explain in words of one syllable what the EABI change means?

See the Debian EABI port page.

> [I've now got two nslu2 again so would be willing to participate in
> testing installs and so on :) ] Is the EABI version installable easily 
> yet?

Yes, there is an alpha unsupported incompatible with any official
repositories use at your own risk be prepared to reinstall everything
when you are finished version on www.slug-firmware.net (go right to the
bottom of the page to see it).

> The latest Linksys firmware apparently understands NTFS and may include
> an lpd - so there is arguably less point for a complete newbie to decide
> to re-flash his Slug and the need for Unslung is possibly no longer 
> there. Comments, anybody?

If you want the ability to install one of > 800 packages specifically
optimised for the nslu2 memory size, then you need to use Unslung
instead of the vendor firmware.  If you want to use the > 1500 packages
from OpenEmbedded, then you install SlugOS.  If you want to use Debian
packages, then you install Debian.  It's all about the packages you
want, not about any features of the base firmware you install.

There are over 50000 downloads of Unslung.  SlugOS and Debian have only
10000 each.  Unslung is not going away any time soon.

BTW, NTFS support on the NSLU2 is flakey anyway.  Just don't use it if
you want stability.

> This talk is to a technical audience - I'm going to make the point that 
> the Slug is an ideal embedded system to practice on and a deal easier to 
> find than a specialist board from the usual suppliers. 
> It's also a good introduction to ARM in general and it's _literally_ 
> cool to have a fanless, silent system running at about 3.5W consumption 
> :)
> Can anybody help with the more detailed/Debian specific aspects of my 
> homework please? :)

Feel free to ask me anything else in #nslu2-linux on irc.freenode.net or
#debian-arm on irc.debian.org

-- Rod Whitby
-- NSLU2-Linux Project Lead

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