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Re: Help with a touchless, netbooted, preseeded installation of squeeze on lots of plugs

On Wed, 16 May 2012 17:17:39 +0100, Dan Tomlinson <daniel.tomlinson@oucs.ox.ac.uk> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I am trying to do something relatively advanced with the 
> debian-installer netboot and preseed.  I have been charged with the 
> commissioning of a large number of Dreamplug armel machines with a 
> Debian squeeze installation and I am attempting to get a completely 
> touchless netboot install setup.  I have achieved this to a large degree 
> but there are a few pesky key presses that I can't seem to preseed away.
> This project, on the face of it should be simple, but the specifics of 
> the Dreamplug hardware have caused some problems for me:
> - Stock Debian stable kernels do not work on this hardware.  I have been 
> forced to patch, build and package my own kernel.  My kernels work but I 
> can't install them via the normal preseed kernel selection for the 
> following reasons...
> - The Dreamplug uboot bootloader needs a uImage installed into a special 
> vfat partition on its internal SD card, with the rest of the OS 
> installing to other partitions on the SD card.

This is odd -- I preseed OpenRD systems, and don't seem to have this

Are you installing the uboot-mkimage package?

It seems that linux-image-2.6.32-5-kirkwood calls mkimage in its
postinst, so if you make sure your kernel does the same thing, and
ensure that that package is already installed, you may find that the
uImage & uInitrd get generated for you automatically.

Sorry to be vague, but it all just worked on the OpenRD.

Anyway, if that works, you might be able to do your VFAT trick with a
symlink in /boot -- but actually that just sounds like you're using the
stock uboot, which is why you're restricted to VFAT (I'm assuming that
the uboot they put on dreamplugs at the factory is as decrepit as the
one on the OpenRD).

For that reason, my automated installer includes an expect script that
uses the JTAG (helpfully provided as a mini-USB on OpenRDs) to flash a
more recent uboot onto the box, then set its defaults to boot from (in
my case) SATA, then tell the new uboot to PXE boot from the install
server, and the rest of the install goes through as a full preseed that
gets enough of cfengine onto the box to then install the services I

Sadly, the dreamplug does not include JTAG by default -- otherwise I'd
have published all this already, as it would surely be useful for people
then, but I'm dubious that it's that useful if step 1 is "buy the dev
board" -- it's all very site specific at present too, so would need a
fair amount of work for anyone else to use.

Also, I'm not necessarily recommending replacing the stock uboot.  uboot
is a pain to get working quite often, and I wasted an inordinate amount
of time trying to get all of SATA, SD and flash booting working -- IIRC
the uboot I have now doesn't support SD booting on the OpenRD (it sees
the SD, but always gets CRC errors on the images), whereas the other one
I could have used doesn't support SATA -- so perhaps the quickest route
is to live with the VFAT limitation, and add a hook somewhere that
copies the images after they've been generated.


Cheers, Phil.
|)|  Philip Hands [+44 (0)20 8530 9560]    http://www.hands.com/
|-|  HANDS.COM Ltd.                    http://www.uk.debian.org/
|(|  10 Onslow Gardens, South Woodford, London  E18 1NE  ENGLAND

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