best distro to install on CF card? - Setup

This is a discussion on best distro to install on CF card? - Setup ; I intend to build a small i86 based system for my garage that will monitor things like a weather station, a webcam or two and later maybe some other stuff as well. Ideally the box will just sit there, quietly ...

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Thread: best distro to install on CF card?

  1. best distro to install on CF card?

    I intend to build a small i86 based system for my garage that will
    monitor things like a weather station, a webcam or two and later
    maybe some other stuff as well.
    Ideally the box will just sit there, quietly doing it's job with no
    need for maintenance, reboots or upgrades.
    The box is meant to have no moving parts (fans, disks etc.). I have
    all the components I need and the plan is to install a Linux system onto
    a 1GB CF card that is plugged into a normal IDE slot and appears just
    as a standard disk. I won't be running X or KDE on the box itself.

    I am aware that the number of writes to a CF card limits it's life
    and therefore I plan to have the installed system largely read-only,
    with logs and most other data written either to ramdisk or across a
    wireless network to another box in the house. I want the CF to contain
    the actual Linux files, not a (compressed) ramdisk image that's loaded
    when it boots.

    I have researched a lot of sites where people have done this kind
    of thing. They all describe the _how_ to set it up, but none give
    any kind of feedback of how it runs after a few months/years of
    operation. My question is: which contemporary distributions have
    people had most success with?

    Pete

    --
    .................................................. .........................
    .. never trust a man who, when left alone ...... Pete Lynch .
    .. in a room with a tea cosy ...... Marlow, England .
    .. doesn't try it on (Billy Connolly) .....................................


  2. Re: best distro to install on CF card?

    Peter Lynch wrote:
    > I intend to build a small i86 based system for my garage that will
    > monitor things like a weather station, a webcam or two and later
    > maybe some other stuff as well.
    > Ideally the box will just sit there, quietly doing it's job with no
    > need for maintenance, reboots or upgrades.
    > The box is meant to have no moving parts (fans, disks etc.). I have
    > all the components I need and the plan is to install a Linux system onto
    > a 1GB CF card that is plugged into a normal IDE slot and appears just
    > as a standard disk. I won't be running X or KDE on the box itself.
    >
    > I am aware that the number of writes to a CF card limits it's life
    > and therefore I plan to have the installed system largely read-only,
    > with logs and most other data written either to ramdisk or across a
    > wireless network to another box in the house. I want the CF to contain
    > the actual Linux files, not a (compressed) ramdisk image that's loaded
    > when it boots.
    >
    > I have researched a lot of sites where people have done this kind
    > of thing. They all describe the _how_ to set it up, but none give
    > any kind of feedback of how it runs after a few months/years of
    > operation. My question is: which contemporary distributions have
    > people had most success with?
    >
    > Pete
    >

    I have no answers for you, but would really love to hear how you get on.

    Obviously mounting stuff as readonly should prevent any writes at all.

    It's hard to say what bits of linux apart from the log files need to be
    writable...

    One longs for the days of a 64Kbyte linux ...;-)..or Uix. VM86...?

    Stuff also scribbles in /tmp IIRC.

    I would start off making everything in sight readonly except /tmp and
    /var/log using a disk, and gradually reconfiguring it and removing
    unwanted stuff till you get no errors...then transfer the moveable bits
    to ramdisk and the static bits to flash.

  3. Re: best distro to install on CF card?

    Peter Lynch wrote:
    > I intend to build a small i86 based system for my garage that will
    > monitor things like a weather station, a webcam or two and later
    > maybe some other stuff as well.
    > Ideally the box will just sit there, quietly doing it's job with no
    > need for maintenance, reboots or upgrades.
    > The box is meant to have no moving parts (fans, disks etc.). I have
    > all the components I need and the plan is to install a Linux system onto
    > a 1GB CF card that is plugged into a normal IDE slot and appears just
    > as a standard disk. I won't be running X or KDE on the box itself.
    >
    > I am aware that the number of writes to a CF card limits it's life
    > and therefore I plan to have the installed system largely read-only,
    > with logs and most other data written either to ramdisk or across a
    > wireless network to another box in the house. I want the CF to contain
    > the actual Linux files, not a (compressed) ramdisk image that's loaded
    > when it boots.
    >
    > I have researched a lot of sites where people have done this kind
    > of thing. They all describe the _how_ to set it up, but none give
    > any kind of feedback of how it runs after a few months/years of
    > operation. My question is: which contemporary distributions have
    > people had most success with?



    You could think of building a CD system, replacing the CD
    with the CF. The Diskless-root-NFS-HOWTO from the Linux
    Documentation Project HOWTOs tells how (item 5 on main contents).

    You could start with some of the mini-distros, like those on
    the rescue CD's or, maybe, Damn Small Linux.

    --

    Tauno Voipio
    tauno voipio (at) iki fi


  4. Re: best distro to install on CF card?

    The Natural Philosopher writes:
    > It's hard to say what bits of linux apart from the log files need to be
    > writable...


    Logging can be turned off or forwarded to another machine. /etc/mtab
    normally needs to be writable but that can be worked around (Google
    "read-only root"). /tmp, /var/run and /var/lock can be put on a tmpfs if
    you run any processes that need them.
    --
    John Hasler
    john@dhh.gt.org
    Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, WI USA

  5. Re: best distro to install on CF card?

    Peter Lynch wrote:
    > I intend to build a small i86 based system for my garage that will
    > monitor things like a weather station, a webcam or two and later
    > maybe some other stuff as well.
    > Ideally the box will just sit there, quietly doing it's job with no
    > need for maintenance, reboots or upgrades.
    > The box is meant to have no moving parts (fans, disks etc.). I have
    > all the components I need and the plan is to install a Linux system onto
    > a 1GB CF card that is plugged into a normal IDE slot and appears just
    > as a standard disk. I won't be running X or KDE on the box itself.
    >
    > I am aware that the number of writes to a CF card limits it's life
    > and therefore I plan to have the installed system largely read-only,
    > with logs and most other data written either to ramdisk or across a
    > wireless network to another box in the house. I want the CF to contain
    > the actual Linux files, not a (compressed) ramdisk image that's loaded
    > when it boots.
    >
    > I have researched a lot of sites where people have done this kind
    > of thing. They all describe the _how_ to set it up, but none give
    > any kind of feedback of how it runs after a few months/years of
    > operation. My question is: which contemporary distributions have
    > people had most success with?
    >
    > Pete
    >

    Hello Pete, just from the little I have been reading take a look at
    Puppy linux. One of its more popular implementations is called Flash
    Puppy and is designed to boot/run from a 128 meg thumb drive.
    Mike WN5PMR

  6. Re: best distro to install on CF card?

    Peter Lynch wrote:
    > The box is meant to have no moving parts (fans, disks etc.). I have all
    > the components I need and the plan is to install a Linux system onto a
    > 1GB CF card that is plugged into a normal IDE slot and appears just as a
    > standard disk. I won't be running X or KDE on the box itself.


    Look at Pebble Linux and Voyage Linux. Google will find them for you.
    --
    John Hasler
    john@dhh.gt.org
    Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, WI USA

  7. Re: best distro to install on CF card?

    On Fri, 20 Oct 2006 15:51:50 +0000, Peter Lynch wrote:

    > I intend to build a small i86 based system for my garage that will
    > monitor things like a weather station, a webcam or two and later
    > maybe some other stuff as well.
    > Ideally the box will just sit there, quietly doing it's job with no
    > need for maintenance, reboots or upgrades.
    > The box is meant to have no moving parts (fans, disks etc.). I have
    > all the components I need and the plan is to install a Linux system onto
    > a 1GB CF card that is plugged into a normal IDE slot and appears just
    > as a standard disk. I won't be running X or KDE on the box itself.
    >
    > I am aware that the number of writes to a CF card limits it's life
    > and therefore I plan to have the installed system largely read-only,
    > with logs and most other data written either to ramdisk or across a
    > wireless network to another box in the house. I want the CF to contain
    > the actual Linux files, not a (compressed) ramdisk image that's loaded
    > when it boots.


    Why not? Running a ram-based only system with the CF used just for
    booting would seem to be a logical and efficient way to meet your
    operational requirements.

    Stef

  8. Re: best distro to install on CF card?

    On Fri, 20 Oct 2006 22:08:01 -0700, Stefan Patric wrote:
    > On Fri, 20 Oct 2006 15:51:50 +0000, Peter Lynch wrote:




    >> I am aware that the number of writes to a CF card limits it's life
    >> and therefore I plan to have the installed system largely read-only,
    >> with logs and most other data written either to ramdisk or across a
    >> wireless network to another box in the house. I want the CF to contain
    >> the actual Linux files, not a (compressed) ramdisk image that's loaded
    >> when it boots.

    >
    > Why not? Running a ram-based only system with the CF used just for
    > booting would seem to be a logical and efficient way to meet your
    > operational requirements.
    >
    > Stef


    Simply because I don't have very much ram in the box. Yes I know I
    could buy a larger DIMM (the mini-itx board only has 1 slot) but I
    prefer to use the CF in the same way as a (read-only or write-little)
    disk.

    Pete

    --
    .................................................. .........................
    .. never trust a man who, when left alone ...... Pete Lynch .
    .. in a room with a tea cosy ...... Marlow, England .
    .. doesn't try it on (Billy Connolly) .....................................


  9. Re: best distro to install on CF card?

    Peter Lynch wrote:
    > I have researched a lot of sites where people have done this kind
    > of thing. They all describe the _how_ to set it up, but none give
    > any kind of feedback of how it runs after a few months/years of
    > operation. My question is: which contemporary distributions have
    > people had most success with?


    I've been running GNAP
    (http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/base/embedded/gnap.xml)
    on a no moving parts mini-ITX system for about a year. It's completely
    stable in 24/7 operation.

    --
    Markku Kolkka
    markku.kolkka@iki.fi



  10. Re: best distro to install on CF card?

    On Sat, 21 Oct 2006 09:44:07 +0000, Peter Lynch wrote:

    > On Fri, 20 Oct 2006 22:08:01 -0700, Stefan Patric wrote:
    >> On Fri, 20 Oct 2006 15:51:50 +0000, Peter Lynch wrote:

    >
    >
    >
    >>> I am aware that the number of writes to a CF card limits it's life
    >>> and therefore I plan to have the installed system largely read-only,
    >>> with logs and most other data written either to ramdisk or across a
    >>> wireless network to another box in the house. I want the CF to contain
    >>> the actual Linux files, not a (compressed) ramdisk image that's loaded
    >>> when it boots.

    >>
    >> Why not? Running a ram-based only system with the CF used just for
    >> booting would seem to be a logical and efficient way to meet your
    >> operational requirements.
    >>
    >> Stef

    >
    > Simply because I don't have very much ram in the box. Yes I know I
    > could buy a larger DIMM (the mini-itx board only has 1 slot) but I
    > prefer to use the CF in the same way as a (read-only or write-little)
    > disk.


    How much RAM do you have currently in the box? You don't need much, if
    all you're going to do is run a very limited -- no X, shell only -- task
    specific system. Something like that would only require a few megs of RAM
    for the system ram disk. And by a few, I mean 4 megs or so.

    I have a little floppy "rescue" system that loads a fairly complete system
    (shell only) on a 4 meg ramdisk, but only uses 2.6 megs of it, leaving
    ample room for logs, temporary files, etc.

    Stef


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