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Re: Embeddded Debian meetup @ Extremadura


it's my first post to this list, but I've been lurking
for a while.

On Tue, Jan 03, 2006 at 03:17:41PM +0200, Riku Voipio wrote:
> Hi,
> emDebian development is again a bit staganting. One option to fuel
> some fire is to have a worksession[0] at Extremadura[1][2]. 

Very nice place, especially for me since it's about 400km
from where I live (Granada, Spain) ;-) 

Now seriously, Cáceres is worth the trip.

> Some ideas 
> of things that could get done at or before emDebian worksession:
>  * bring Ed's framework upto date with Etch.
>  * create configurations for various devices and document howto do them
>    * linksys routers, peplink, NAS devices, pda's/phones.. 
>  * emdebian kernel integrations
>  * prepare uclibc ports [4]
>  * arm-eabi[5][6]/sh3/blackfin/coldfire and similar "slow/embedded" arch porting
>  * gpe/opie/maemo packaging and uploading to debian
>  * Kill scratchbox in it's current form and make a better scratchbox2 [7]
>  * cross-compiling for buildd's
>  * Discuss, Settle and stick in to one of: familiar/ipkg, emdebian or udebs
>  * promote DEBUILD_OPTIONS=nodocs flag for not building docs

Excellent idea. 

>  * promote DEBUILD_OPTIONS=notest for skipping tests
> Ofcourse, most of this can be done without the meeting, and is in fact
> preferred over working at the place - But having a meeting sets a 
> deadline to get something prepared and achieved, instead of endless 
> planning!
> I would personally favour March 22-26/April 19-23, as this would let us
> have something to show at debconf for wider audience. If you have any
> preferences for timing, you get to vote by promising to do some things
> out of the list :)
> Please rise your hand ( _o/ ) or edit wiki[0] directly if you have
> interest in this happening, and I'll contact Extremadura.

Since it is my first post, I shall give some background. 
At our telescope (http://www.iram.es/IRAMES/index.htm) we use Debian
on most machines and Linux virtually everywhere. I started to 
put Linux on our embedded systems in 1997 (Motorola MVME boards
with PPC processors) and I want to switch them soon to Debian,
or rather a minimalistic version of Debian. We have about 20
of them to control the telescope and its instruments.

These machines do not have video, only a serial console, which 
is only used when things go really bad. They all have roots
on NFS and the server is installed in such a way (with an
old Linux/PPC) distribution that only very few files are
specific to each machine (mostly /etc). All the rest is
shared: all nfsroot clients use the same mount point for 
/usr and /home, but this caused problems at the time for
/bin, /lib, and others so the files are hardlinked on the 
server (this reduces disk cache footprint on the server). 

I'm really interested in upgrading since the distribution
I originally used (Linux/PPC) has been abandoned. However
some  capabilities of rpm based distributions, especially 
the --excludedocs since I wanted really minimalistic systems
(some only have 16MB of RAM and no swap): a shell, only editor 
is vi, no manpages (man needs troff or similar, which needs ...). 

What I had to write to get these machines booting 
usable in Linux:
- a bootloader (actually a fairly sophisticated one, since
on the couple of machines that have a video board, the 
bootloader ran the video BIOS initialization routines
through the included x86 emulator).
- a driver for the PCI<->VME interface bridge (Tundra
Universe) that provides basic services to access the 
VME bus(mapping, DMA, interrupts) for other hardware 
specific modules loaded on top of that one. It also
allows mapping VME space from user space.

Ok, that's about all. It has been working nicely 
for over 6 years now, but it is time to go to a
more modern setup, but hopefully not more bloated
(every additional machine needs less than 1 MB
of disk space on the server). 


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