[Soekris] Gentoo on Soekris?

Chuck Yerkes chuck+soekris at 2003.snew.com
Wed Aug 13 21:43:34 UTC 2003

Quoting Jim Gifford (jim at giffords.net):
> On Wed, Aug 13, 2003 at 02:19:56PM -0400, Alexander Payne wrote:
> > Anybody tried to slap Gentoo on Soekris system?  Idle curiosity.  
> > Apologies if such things have been discussed in the archives, but 
> > there's no search interface...
> I recently built up a gentoo system for my soekris in a chroot on my
> P4-2GHz laptop.  I netbooted the soekris using pxelinux and nfsroot, then
> set up the CF card from that nfs booted soekris.  I ended up with
> approximately 110M in use on the 256M CF card.  I only copied bits and
> pieces that I needed.
> In my opinion, it wasn't worth the effort.  Now that I found the trick to

I can't really imagine hoping that someone else compiled the
binaries I want right - aside from the library version issues
that I always run into with RPMs and dependancy games there's
now the issue that perhaps FSF's server was compromised.  Since
march.  <boggle>

Either way (source or binaries), you end up with binaries.
I just keep a list of the files I need (and most of /usr/lib/*)
and make a tarball distro from that.

I've got an overly functional 50MB setup that's a useful shell
machine for me has well as being an AP/IPSEC end, IPv6 gateway,
DHCP server, DNS server.

Going through this exercise the first time (in 94 or so) meant
getting familiar with ALL those files in /usr/bin and /usr/sbin/.
not a bad thing to know.  Never found out what SunOS's "chill"
was for tho.

Why so many man pages are missing in linux is beyond me, but
tar will take a list of files to tar up from another file.

> getting the linux kernel to happily boot from pxe and do nfsroot, I am
> planning to switch to debian.  I feel sure I can get a smaller footprint
> with debian, and I won't have to spend ages compiling everything I need.
> Using emerge as a package management utility requires way too many
> resources.  The debian package tools are (generally) much lighter.
> Some things to keep in mind:
> Make sure you specify the 486 architecture in your make.conf.
> Make sure you choose the Elan processor in your kernel build (for the
> 45xx soekris anyway).  The 486 processor kernel will not boot.  The Elan
> processor is down below all the fast processors, so keep looking for it.
> If you go for a diskless boot for the first boot, make sure to build in
> support for nfsroot.  Also make sure you build your ethernet driver
> static for netboot.
> pxelinux, syslinux, and grub all have a major failing: they assume a VGA
> adapter and do BIOS screen IO that is difficult to read thru.  Once the
> kernel takes off with the serial console, you're golden.  Perhaps the
> *BSD bootloader would be better for netbooting linux...  The FreeBSD
> bootloader has a lot of benefits going for it, I intend to see if I can
> get it to work with my soekris to load linux.
> As for using Gentoo on a soekris, either get a big CF card or CF HDD, or
> do all your work on a build host and only copy over what you need.  The
> latter requires a LOT of attention to details that gentoo generally
> glosses over in its normal operation.
> I've had problems getting leaf based distros to work due to the syslinux
> issue.  Once a kernel is booting, things are easier to debug, but not
> being able to see any of the error message sucks.  m0n0wall installs
> trivially, runs fast and well, is easy to configure (or reconfigure), and
> "just works".  Unfortunately, I need support for a PCMCIA cellular modem
> as the WAN link, and nothing that is currently available provides that.
> Good luck with your project.  :)

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