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Re: [pkg-fso-maint] GSoC 2010: Debian Installer on Freerunner

On Sunday 21 March 2010, Gaudenz Steinlin wrote:
> I and Luca Capello (gismo) worked on d-i for the freerunner at Debconf
> 9. We decided back then that whatever method we choose it should be
> supported by the factory default settings of the u-boot on the
> freerunner.

I'm currently working on getting D-I to run on an ARM (S3C6410) netbook 
with looks like very similar challenges. I should have the details in the 
Debian Wiki somewhere fairly soon. Watch planet.d.o, and the d-boot and 
d-arm lists for announcements.

We have a basic working kernel (with various issues and more work needed) 
and yesterday I first managed to boot D-I.

We recently started a new project on alioth called "arm-netbook" for this. 
Still need to set up a mailing list etc.

> This means that you have to combine the kernel and initramfs into one
> u-boot image. This is possible but a bit tricky to get right.

Our problem for the netbook is that we currently cannot change the u-boot 
config. But we do have a way to boot a custom kernel from external flash 
card. With that as our starting point I'm currently using the bootpImage 
target of the upstream kernel to do exactly what you describe.

As I write this I've just finished creating a micro ramdisk (66K) to be 
included in the kernel. The only purpose of that initrd is to load the 
actual D-I initrd from flash card and then do a 'run-init' into that.
That also means there suddenly is no real size restriction anymore (except 
for memory limitations).

> This won't work. Period. If you want to integrate your work into the
> official d-i you have to use a kernel built from the linux-2.6 package
> in the main archive.

It's going to be quite a challenge to get the kernel team to accept 
building both a regular kernel image and a bootpImage...
I'm currently planning to only make the images for our netbook available 
from alioth.

It should be possible to commit changes into the D-I repo even if they are 
not used to build official images. Only requirements for that are that the 
patches are "clean" (i.e, properly coded, no super ugly hacks) and that it 
does not interfere with building official images.

> > * Hacking g-i to work with the touchscreen and
> > provide an on-screen keyboard.
> Gismo and I were rahter targetting the network-console mode of d-i that
> is used on headless NAS devices. The idea was that d-i would setup the
> usb network and you could connect to it by sshing over this usb network.
> I think that would be far easier.

Our netbook has a USB keyboard, so we have it  bit easier. I've already had 
D-I's localechooser up using the cdebconf newt frontend and framebuffer.

> It depends on your definition of lightweight. I would call all the d-i
> initramfs (it's technically not an initrd anymore) fairly heavyweight.

See above.


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