[Nottingham] USB LiveDistros Persistance (or, Going Diskless)

Martin martin at ml1.co.uk
Thu Aug 28 10:43:27 UTC 2008

Good comments folks, thanks.

I'm not at all worried about performance so no worries about the C3
being 32-bit i386/i486/i586.

The unionfs/tmpfs idea is neat and gives good scope. The WRAP board
looks rather neat, but how much? I've already got the C3...


Michael Quaintance wrote:
> I've used slax ( http://www.slax.org/ ) for livecd / liveusb work and it 
> has very good support for persistent changes on USB media. I really like 
> the slax architecture for live distro work.

I should look at such as that. However, I'm inna-rush and nicely
familiar with Mandriva and Ubuntu. I'm also wanting to put other bits on
such as a LAMP stack and other stuff.

> For logfiles, why can't you set syslogd to log to a remote syslog server 
> (or will this be the only machine on 24x7)? I would probably use two usb 
> devices, one for boot and persistent changes and a cheap, throwaway one 
> for logs then when it wears out due to too much writing, you simply 

Very good idea there for the throwaway logs device. I find logs too
useful to do without them... There must be a kernel parameter to make
disk cache writes more chunky/bursty and so save wearing the flash too
quickly with small writes...

It will be the only machine on 24x7 and may also be used for mail

> And although xubuntu is quite good, do you really need Xwindows at all 
> for a firewall/router? Why not just a simple debian or ubuntu from the 
> alternate install disc to run headless?

Could do, but then for the sake of plugging in a monitor, I have an
always on (low power, quiet, instantly available) mail reader.

Besides, I prefer having X available so that I can have local pretty
graphical terminals for debug and config. The system gets booted just up
to init 3 for other cases.

> Just my thoughts, although I'd use a WRT54GL for wireless as well or put 
> OpenBSD with pf onto a Via C3 or similar for paranoid packet filtering. 
> In fact, I did the OpenBSD option on a Sun Ultra 5 for a while but the 
> electricity was just too much. And OpenBSD is really not usable in less 
> than 512MB of disc space.

This is for gaining a lower-power greater flexibility solution.

At this rate, it may even get to host the NLUG website!

Meanwhile, the first fubar (rediscovered, which is why there was an old
HDD on there in the first place) is:

The BIOS has no boot option for USB-HDD. :-( You get USB-FDD and USB-ZIP
but no USB-HDD.

There's PXE-boot and "LAN boot" but the idea is for this box to run on
its own and to recover on its own after a power cut.

Also, I've tried 3 CDROMs and CD-RW drives on it and none boot
successfully with isolinux. The hardware ports are not found or the boot
image reports a checksum error. (Recompile for i586?...) Interestingly,
memtest86 does boot from CD and runs ok.

I was hoping to avoid putting a HDD on there for low power and silent

Mmmm... I could jump in and get a CF card and ide adapter for it, but
then I'll have to do some deviousness via another machine to load it up
with a system.

Anyone else with a diskless EPIA VIA C3?... How?


Martin Lomas
martin at ml1.co.uk

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