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Archiv für September, 2010

Fresh development build: ISOhybrid conversion and boot on Xen

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Please do not think I didn’t work on LessLinux in the last weeks! On September 15th there will be a large press conference, where a new, LessLinux based distribution will be unveiled. Some features of this distribution are now available on current development builds. I am proud to present a development build that nicely demoes this new features:

  • ISOhybrid conversion: Starting with version 3.8x of the Syslinux bootloader an ISO image can be prepared to be a valid hard disk image. Isolinux will boot this image in any case. There is one drawback however: A USB thumbdrive with this ISO image does not contain a writable filesystem anymore. Current LessLinux builds include a conversion routine: If sufficient RAM is found, the complete content of the ISO filessystem is copied to RAM during startup, the thumbdrive is reformatted as FAT32 and a Syslinux bootloader is written.

    To test this feature, use dd to copy the ISO to the thumbdrive: dd if=lesslinux.iso of=/dev/sdx. On Windows rename the ISO to .img and use Win32ImageWriter to perform this task.

  • Start as Xen domU: With pvops Vanilla kernels getting mature it is possible to boot the same kernel on bare hardware and as Xen domU on the hypervisor. With small changes to the kernel configuration and the startup scripts (to search on Xens harddisks xvda and to open the console hvc0) LessLinux now boots on Xen. The practical usage of this feature will be for development and debugging, but it also offers the possibillity to offer lightweight live distributions as maintenance and rescue systems for hosting environments.

    To boot on Xen you must convert the initramfs files of the Vanilla Kernel to a format that the domU loader understands — basically converting the multiple compressed cpio archives from /boot/isolinux to a single one:

    cat devs.img initram.img i2635vn.img | gunzip -c | gzip -c > initrd.img

    Then use this configuration file to fire up the domU. On pressing the Return key on hvc0 you get a simple shell where you can use ifconfig to determine the IP adress. Then use VNC to connect to the desktop of your LessLinux-domU.

Other new features:

  • Kernel: is default, is optional
  • Firefox: By running /opt/firefox40/lib/firefox/firefox you can start Firefox 4.0b4 with WebM support
  • VLC: upgraded to 1.1.4
  • Thunderbird: upgraded to 3.1.2, Enigmail and Lighning included

Known bugs:

  • USB installation from the boot menu might not work, use ISOhybrid as mentioned above
  • Sound will not work when booting Kernel
  • Shutdown is blind due to some KMS issues
  • Truecrypt manually load module fuse before running Truecrypt

Grab it here: