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Archiv für 'Releases'

Fresh development build with kernel 3.11.5 available

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

I am proud to announce a fresh development build. This one targets some minor issues in older builds and adds the new kernel from the 3.11 family. However glibc is still 2.17 since I had problems with my cross compilers build with 2.18. The issues adressed are:

  • Workaround for sound devices with too strict permissions
  • The USB installer now also creates an encrypted swap partition: The swap partition is re-initialized at each boot with a key that is thrown away afterwards
  • Gummiboot is updated to 36 to work around keyboard issues on some UEFI implementations
  • The layout of the DVD is much friendlier for remastering (kernels are now in /boot/kernel, not in /boot/isolinux anymore)
  • A new mechanism for loading to memory just loads to memory if the system is started from optical media an the main memory is larger than size of the ISO plus 1GB – so the DVD burner can be used to backup important data – when used from thumb drive the system is not loaded to main memory

The Realtek WiFi driver rtl8192se that stopped working in linux 3.10 works again with 3.11. However I left it blacklisted for this build. Load it manually with “modprobe -v rtl8192se” if you have an affected card. I also did make some major improvements for speeding up builds. Large parts of the system can now be built distributed with distcc. This together with some fresh tests of self contained builds will be covered in an upcoming post.

Download the test build here: lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20131017-082921.iso

Fresh stable release available

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I just uploaded a fresh stable release. There are no big changes regarding the development build from two weeks ago. The linux kernel now is 3.9.10, Firefox and Thunderbird were also updated. Two small new features are integrated:

USB installer

Install LessLinux search and rescue to a thumb drive. In the installer you can select the default language and specify if an encrypted /home partition should be created. The latter feature is especially handy if you want to store some browser bookmarks or WiFi keys.


Webdav is a nice thing, especially since many providers like Deutsche Telekom or GMX are offering cheap or free Webdav drives. I included the command line client mount.davfs. Currently no certificates are installed and in the mid term I want to provide a simple GUI.



As alwas you can download the ISO image lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20130822-085558.iso from download.lesslinux.org. Burn it to DVD, write it to a thumbdrive with “dd” or Win32DiskImager.

New development build with kernel 3.10.5 available + new tools

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The last weeks saw many improvements that especially targetted reliability. As you probably know, LessLinux contains a feature called “ISOhybrid conversion”: Official ISO images are valid HDD images as well, so you can either burn them on a DVD or “dd” them to a thumb drive (Windows users will take Win32DiskImager to write to an USB drive). Upon first boot, the ISO image is move to the end of the thumb drive and some partitions are created – so part of the thumb drive is still writable and the boot configuration is editable.

More reliability on cheap USB flash drives

During the last weeks I ran into problems with some cheap USB thumb drives: continously reading 8MB and instantly writing them somewhere else often resulted in some flipped bits. Thus I introduced some checks: First, and upon each boot, the binary files in the initramfs (BusyBox, some statically linked binaries, firmware files and kernel modules) are checked and upon failure the system shuts down. Then before doing the ISOhybrid conversion boot files (kernel and initramfs) and the SquashFS containers are checked. During the conversion each block is checked after writing: if moving fails, it is tried again. Some very cheap thumb drives that formerly resulted in nearly 20% corrupt installations are now down to 2%.

Another big change in ISOhybrid conversion is, that we are now very generous with available space: In addition to the last partition for the ISO image, another partition in front of it is created. Both use 125% of the space of the ISO – yes, 250% together. The intention behind this is, that updates are handled much easier this way: The old ISO image can now be piped through Xdelta3 and the STDOUT can be written to the empty partition. As a result, I will begin to offer updates between stable releases from now on.

Encrypted /home

I re-activated a feature that was introduced some three years ago, but could only be used by creating a container file by hand. If you now specify the cheat code


upon first boot, during ISOhybrid conversion a partition with between 512MB and 1.5GB is created and later used for storing the contents of the home directory and settings for WICD. Reasonable sizes for the /home directory are between 256MB and 64GB (if you install to a USB hard disk and have some large directories in your /home directory, e.g. Thunderbird will full IMAP caching).

Remove ransomware from registry

Some ransomware writes a shell entry that cannot be removed from a running windows system. I was disappointed with license and usability of Kasperskys ransomware removal tool, so I wrote one myself: This tool scans all your hard disks for Windows installations (currently XP, Vista, 7 and 8 are supported, 8.1 might work as well), then it reads the shell entries and gives you a button to reset the shell to the default “explorer.exe”.

Some Eyecandy, notes on network

I created some commonly used functions for displaying a progress bar during startup and ISOhybrid conversion. Sadly, kernel 3.10.5 contains some bugs in some wireless staging drivers that result in no connection or crashes (especially sad when considering those drivers worked in 3.9.11), so I had to blacklist rtl8192se. To speed up boot, ethernet drives are loaded after udev is started. If you intend to netboot lesslinux, please take a look in the handbook.


Download the build lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20130807-124945.iso and burn it to DVD or use “dd” or Win32ImageWriter to write it to a thumb drive.

 PS: This build still uses Firefox 22.0 and Thunderbird 17.0.8, some pending updates on the Xorg subsystem are not yet included and I plan to add and configure GRUB as an alternative bootloader on UEFI systems (in the mid term, this should reduce the size of ISOs by ~50MB). So now you know why the build is labeled testing. From the stability standpoind there are no reasons (besides the broken WiFi drivers) not to use it.

Fresh stable build available: Kernel 3.9.4, UEFI Support and many more

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

After kernel 3.8.13 was declared EOL I switched to kernel 3.9 and moved the build system to GCC 4.8.0. Besides the new kernel this release adds lots of changes and improvements. (more…)

Fresh build with UEFI support (including secure boot) available

Monday, May 13th, 2013

I just completed a fresh build based on kernel 3.8.12 and GCC 4.7.2 that introduces support for secure boot. The ISO now supports four modes: If burned to a DVD it boots on BIOS and UEFI machines – the same when written to a USB thumb drive. Many thanks to Thomas Schmitt of Xorriso fame for helping me to accomplish this. I have also rewritten the scripts that do the conversion from the raw ISO written to thumbdrive from a MBR partitioned HDD to a GPT partitioned disk with two boot partitions – one for UEFI and one with legacy MBR for BIOS.

UEFI should work flawless on most machines, you just have to add the hash of the kernel /l308sf.efi to your MOK database – upon first boot you are prompted to do so. There are still some features that are not yet complete. For example the safe startup or options for VNC access are not yet included into the boot menu used on UEFI machines. The build is generally considered “Gamma” quality. I assume there won’t be more builds based on kernel 3.8 since this is declared deprecated. I have begun moving to 3.9, so expect some Beta builds based on 3.9 and GCC 4.8 soon.

There will be some major changes for builders ahead. If you plan to do builds based on this or later releases, please contact me.

Test build with kernel 3.8.0 available (unstable)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

I just uploaded the first build containing linux kernel 3.8.0. Besides the new kernel, glibc got updated to 2.17. The most significant change is that now a (cross compiled) kernel for x86_64 is included. If necessary it will be accompagnied by a 64 bit busybox in one of the next builds. So currently three kernels are used: the 64 bit kernel, a kernel for 32 bit systems with PAE and a kernel for 32 bit systems  without PAE. This number will be reduced to two as soon as the 64 bit kernel proves stable. Choosing the right kernel is (hopefully) done by syslinux’ ifcpu64.c32 module. To see which kernel was booted, run “uname -a” from a terminal.

Please note that just the kernel is 64 bit, so chrooting to 64 bit linux environments should be possible now. Since I also plan to add EFI support with gummiboot we need a 64 bit kernel to be booted directly by the EFI loader (32 bit kernels will not boot on 64 bit EFI without intermediate loaders like GRUB).

Fresh stable build available

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

I just uploaded a fresh build that includes some significant changes on driver loading – especially WiFi now works much better. Of course most packages were also replaced by fresh versions: Linux kernel 3.7.9 is included, Firefox got updated to 19.0 (the first release with the pdf.js PDF renderer included). Other changes are relevant for the use in companies where LessLinux is bootet via the network – either for repairing, inspecting, enrolling Windows on client machines or the usage as thin client:

  • a root password hash can now be set via boot command line
  • the thin client chooser now got much more configurable regarding mapping of Xfreerdps parameters and thus “real world usable” (in fact we use LessLinux as thinclient OS already in a small office netwerk with around ten clients)
  • the possibility to pass through to USB printers has been added

This build still uses kernel series 3.7 and Glibc 2.16. Due to some major changes I suspect this to remain for a few stable builds while unstable builds will soon move to 3.8 and Glibc 2.17. Download this build here:

I would also like to point to the handbook I started writing. For now it just contains ~10 pages on stuff that is interesting for administrators – like netbooting, using LessLinux as a thin client or remote access to running LessLinux hosts. The hand book is work in progress and will be frequently be updated. The latest version can be downloaded from here:

Since the handbook is regularily updated as work on LessLinux continues it might contain documentation on features that are not yet avaialable in the build you just downloaded. In this case refer to the version of the handbook that is contained in the buildscripts tarball of a certain release. Future releases also will add the handbook as part of the CD.

Nmap and Wireshark included

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

I just got some requests asking for the inclusion of Nmap and Wireshark. Here we go: Winth Zenmap and Wireshark plus the command line tools tcpdump and aircrack-ng (WLAN drivers not yet patched for injection, sorry), LessLinux search and rescue just got better as a tool for network analysis. Besides this there are some minor improvements:

  • Kernel 3.6.11
  • other minor updates to libraries etc.

As always you can download the latest build from download.lesslinux.org: lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20121228-165026.iso

Fresh build with kernel 3.6.10

Monday, December 17th, 2012

I just uploaded a fresh build of LessLinux Search and Rescue. The most notable changes to the release from September are:

  • Linux Kernel 3.6.10
  • Glibc updated to 2.16.0
  • Firefox 17.0.1 and Thunderbird 17.0
  • Gparted updated to 0.14.1
  • Tools for XFS, JFS and BTRFS added respectively re-added
  • Nice icons in upper left corner show boot progress

Of course there are lots of minor changes as well, for example it is now possible to load the complete system via tftp. To do this follow the instructions to load the kernel and initrams from your PXE-/TFTP-server and add


Please note that this feature is experimental. The “wgetiso” cheat code might work much better with the protocols http or ftp, but in cases where you can’t or don’t want to setup a web server and still boot from the network, it might come handy.

There were some minor changes to the thin client functionality, but it still is not production ready, be prepared for more on this topic in January.

As always you can download the latest build from download.lesslinux.org: lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20121217-095052.iso

Fresh build available

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Dear users, I just uploaded a fresh build of LessLinux Search and Rescue. It fits to the stable line, although not all features might be perfectly tested (this might be most obvious in Wifi support for some chipsets). On the software side practically all version numbers increased:

  • Linux kernel is 3.4.11
  • Firefox is version 15.0.1
  • XFCE is version 4.10

A few programs have been added:

  • Remmina for remote access
  • FreeRDP for remote access to windows machines

Along with Remmina and xfreerdp comes a new boot mode: By specifying the IP of a host to connect to or the URL of an XML file containing chooser information it is possible to either directly connecting to a remote RDP host or offering a chooser to select from a view. Modes for access to VNC and X11 (XDMCP) will be added in the near future. Along with the RDP capabilities access to local drives and a printer daemon will follow soon. Stay tuned for an update on this new feature in the next few days.

Download LessLinux Search and Rescue 2.0.11 here: