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Re: Anyone installed Debian on a routerboard?

On Friday 03 June 2011, Rick Thomas wrote:
> Has anyone got Debian (any version) installed on Mikrotik RouterBoard
> hardware?
> Any hints for how to do it?
> Thanks!
> Rick
You will have quite a lot of difficulty with this.  

1) The tools needed to build the images are not packaged with Debian
2) There are a bunch of kernel fixes that are needed to run linux on 
a Routerboard that are not in the main line.
3) The partition for the kernel is limited (and that limit is hard
wired into the BIOS) and a normal Debian kernel will not fit.
4) Most Routerboards do not have enough NAND storage to hold a Debian
image, and also lack easy extension point to add USB or CF storage.

However that was the bad news, there are ways of doing it.

The tools and the kernel fixes are available in OpenWRT.  So, while
it is not recommended, you can build your kernel using OpenWRT and
install it using the OpenWRT packaging.  Most Routerboards have
minipci sockets, and there are minipci cards which carry CF cards,
so you can add storage, but these minipci cards cost around £30.
On the CF card you can build a Debian system using debootstrap
and modify the kernel command line to use the CF as its root.  You
do need to remember to copy the kernel modules onto the root, but
it can be done.

I have done this with boards like the Ubiquity RouterStation, but
that has a USB header on it, so I got a USB header to socket cable
and plugged in a USB memory stick.

Remember also that most of the support for the Microtik boards is
reverse engineered, and not derived from documentation.  It is a 
shame, as Router-OS is based on Linux and someone who owns copyright
really should force Microtik to release the source under the GPL

Hope that helps.


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