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Re: Debian on the Sharp Zaurus/SL-5xxx

On Mon 17 Jun, Matt Zimmerman wrote:
> Joey Hess wrote
> > Myself, I've long decided to wait until PDA's are up to about 64mb of
> > flash, and then just slap debian on it, but if you do the work to make it
> > fit in the current generation, I may need to reconsider that decision.

> I've been waiting as well, and the Zaurus is the first one that I've seen
> where I think that I can make it happen.  It basically has 80M of internal
> storage to work with (the consumer edition anyway):

> 16M flash ROM which holds kernel and initrd, both of which are used in-place
> 	(the cramfs initrd root filesystem is read-only)

> 64M persistent RAM which holds additional software and runs user programs
> 	At kernel compile time (or boot time?), this space is divided up
> 	into block device storage and operating memory

> So, only kernel and (compressed!) root (without /etc) need to fit in the
> 16M flash.  Everything else should fit easily within, say, 24M of the 64M,
> leaving a comfortable 40M for execution.  Pop in a 128M SD card, set up
> some symlinks, and you have plenty of room to install additional
> applications.

This is all fair enough, but as someone said this is currenty the high-end of
PDAs. Now we may decide that debian based system can't go much smaller than
this but you can already put a squished woody setup on a psion5 with a 40MB
CF card and 16MB RAM and it works reasonably well. And you can put a useful
ipkg-with X based system on a 16MB CF card and run it in 16MB of RAM.

I'm with Magnus' definition of 'essential' as being the very minimum you need
to bootstrap a system and install more packages. One problem is that exactly
what is required varies quite a lot depending on whether you have a keyboard
or not, and the storage type (CF, NOR flash, NAND flash), so it'll be
difficult to make something small-enough without making a 'base' package for
each device, or at least each basic situation, I suspect.

Obviously it's a matter of finding a sensible tradoff in how much to split
packages, resource usage by package manager, feasible minimum requirements
whilst keeping as much as we can of the good things about the debian

I will say that the more I've looked at this the more I've realised that lot
of Debian policy is based on the assumption that we have a 'desktop'
machine. There are a lot of things that need to be reviewed to make it
effective on PDAs.

Currently I feel that you need to make a set of really-small versions of a
lot of popular core packages that are optimised for a PDA environment, but
keep things as compatible as possible so all the obscure stuff in Debian can
be installed from the standard packages, perhaps with useful dpkg facilities
like 'exclude docs and unused locales'. I'm happy to be proved wrong on this,
but that's my current leaning.

Aleph One Ltd, Bottisham, CAMBRIDGE, CB5 9BA, UK  Tel +44 (0) 1223 811679
work: http://www.aleph1.co.uk/     play: http://www.chaos.org.uk/~wookey/

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