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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 8:30 am 
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Image

openSUSE on EFIKA is getting into a usable state. It still needs some tricks, but there were a lot of improvements in the past month.

First of all: 'factory' is a work in progress. It also has a lot more packages, as the DVD distribution. What it means for us? Two things:

- it has bugs. Sometimes (like yesterday) it's not even installable. Other times it crashes. Most of the time it works just great with cutting edge applications.

- more packages on the installation media need more RAM during installation. For factory at least around 400MB is suggested, my Pegasos has 256MB, EFIKA has 128MB. If a swap partition is not already available during installation, some extra workarounds are needed.

This description applies as of 3rd of May, it will get hopefully simpler over time :-)

The easiest is to do a network installation. One of the many possible installation sources is: http://roxen.integrity.hu/pub/opensuse/ ... n/factory/ For others, please see http://en.opensuse.org/Development_Version#Factory_Tree

Installation is started by booting suseboot/inst32 from the installation media (like http://roxen.integrity.hu/pub/opensuse/ ... oot/inst32 ). It can be loaded from tftp, an USB stick or from the HDD. No matter, which method is choosen, the needed kernel parameters are the same.

As already mentioned, installation needs a lot of RAM. If the HDD is already partitioned, and there is a swap partition, one can use the following parameter to enable it during installation:
Code:
addswap=/dev/sdaX
where X refers to the number of the swap partition.
If there is no swap partition (as on an empty HDD, as one with MorphOS), the first step is to create one and enable it. Partitioning information is available at http://en.opensuse.org/PegasosQuickStart#parted One can reach the partitioner using the
Code:
start_shell
kernel parameter. This starts a shell once the installer image is loaded from the network. After the partitions are ready one needs to enable it using the following commands:
Code:
mkswap /dev/sdaX
swapon /dev/sdaX
where X stands for the number of the swap partition.

While RAM related parameters will most likely needed also in the final version, this one will be gone soon:
Code:
insmod=pata_mpc52xx
SuSE hw routines are being worked on to find EFIKA parts, but not yet fully there. This linuxrc parameter inserts the module for the HDD controller.

HW detection is still a mess, so the Ethernet controller is not found by linuxrc either. But there is a workaround, which is quite practical anyway, as helps to avoid going through many menus:
Code:
install has many possible parameters, for a complete list, please see http://en.opensuse.org/linuxrc

Once all the necessary kernel / linuxrc parameters are there, one can hit enter to start the installation. First inst32 is loaded, then it starts a hw detection process. Then it gets an IP by DHCP and loads the rest of the installation system. If one needs to do partitioning, the shell start this time.

YaST2 appears, and most of the operations can be done, as during a usual openSUSE install. As EFIKA does not (yet) support booting with yaboot, one needs to do the tricks, as with openSUSE 10.1 on Pegasos: in the partitioner remove the unnecessary PREP partition, and in the 'Expert' tab change the boot manager from PPC to none.

Once the first stage of installation is ready, the machine reboots. As there is no boot manager or bootable kernel installed, one needs to use inst32 for booting again. This time the only parameter needed is:
Code:
insmod=pata_mpc52xx
And go through the menus and boot the freshly installed system.

YaST2 will be started again, and it finishes up the installation. As network is not (yet) detected, one needs to set it up manually. Go to 'network interfaces', add a new one and change 'hardware configuration name' from 'static-0' to 'eth0'.

Once logged in, one needs to become 'root' to make some adjustments:
- create a bootable kernel image using 'mkzimage'
- add 'snd_mpc52xx_ac97' and 'snd_pcm_oss' to MODULES_LOADED_ON_BOOT in /etc/sysconfig/kernel to have modules for sound support loaded automatically on boot.
- use 'alsamixer' or anything else to unmute sound

This was only way of installation, serial console, ssh, vnc, or these combined can also be used for installation.

Have a lot of fun using openSUSE!

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 10:46 am 
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Genesi

Joined: Fri Sep 24, 2004 1:39 am
Posts: 1422
Great work Peter! Please keep it up!

R&B :)

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 12:00 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 24, 2004 1:39 am
Posts: 269
Location: Los Angeles
Thanks for your work Peter. Its important to the Efika community.

magnetic


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 1:17 am 
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I'm just installing today's factory: one file seems to be badly missing. If you have a local mirror of factory, you can copy control.xml to suse/setup/desc and the installation will at least start :-) On roxen I did the trick, but this machine is slow outside of Hungary.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 1:19 am 
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Old school UNIX admins say, that SWAP size should be twice the size of RAM. In the case of EFIKA that would be 256MB.
Warning: you should make at least a 512MB swap partition, as during installation I could see over 350MB swapping... CD/DVD release has a lot less software, and this way will require less RAM, but for now one can't go without a larger swap partition.

The installer crashes near the end of the second stage of installation, so most of the hardware is not configured. A new version of factory is just starting to appear on mirrors, hopefully it will fix it.

And some great news: SuSE was always accused, that it installs too many packages. When testing, recently I install all the same major packages (xfce, abiword, gnumeric, opera), and the size of the installed software is now reduced almost half a gigabyte! Speed of dependency checking also increased more than then times, so live checking can be used again instead of checking problems only at the end.

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 6:50 am 
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Tested a (not yet public) Alpha4 CD set. While the installer does not run out of RAM as early as with factory, it's too slow to be useful. If somebody does not already have a swap partition, it needs to be created by 'parted' manually before the installation works. The final version of installer in 10.2 worked with limited amount of RAM, hopefully it will work in 10.3 as well.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 5:39 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 24, 2004 1:39 am
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Location: Austin, TX
Quote:
Tested a (not yet public) Alpha4 CD set. While the installer does not run out of RAM as early as with factory, it's too slow to be useful. If somebody does not already have a swap partition, it needs to be created by 'parted' manually before the installation works. The final version of installer in 10.2 worked with limited amount of RAM, hopefully it will work in 10.3 as well.
Is it possible for instance to use a USB key for swap? Slow as it may be, it would be better than running out of RAM.

Among the things I'm really curious and quite eager to see on Efika is ways to work around the 128MB limitation, not because it's so much a limit, but that the rest of the world seems to want a great deal more (I have seen Linux distro specs that say "runs best in 2GB of RAM.. sick :)

So, how about this.. if you have a USB stick inserted with a lot of free space (mounted automatically by the installer as whatever filesystem), could a temporary swap *file* be created on it, and simply mkswap/swapon that? Considering most people will be booting the installer kernel from a USB, it seems a reasonable solution..

The file can safely be deleted by the user afterwards, but the installer should probably also delete it when it quits.

Feasible? Stupid? Can someone write a script for this? :)

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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 1:08 am 
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Location: Secure Networks / Sweden
Neko:
With large amount of swapping, the USB flashmemory will wear out very soon. Even 100,000 writes could be done in a fairly short period of time.


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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 7:17 am 
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Quote:
Neko:
With large amount of swapping, the USB flashmemory will wear out very soon. Even 100,000 writes could be done in a fairly short period of time.
For the purposes of a SINGLE installation process, I don't think this matters.

Another avenue might be to investigate the Linux compressed page cache patches. I so want someone to look at this stuff (I fell down on this as I could not get the patch to cleanly apply to a x86 Debian 2.6.18 kernel, and even fixing it manually, it explodes all over the place possibly because I made a mistake. If I can't boot/test it in VirtualPC, I am not even going to bother making a kernel on my Efika and working out the differences that stop it working on PPC, if there are any..). That would reduce the amount of data being put on the USB key (and the size of the file required, and also the main memory required too).

I don't think you could do 51MB of write accesses to a single 512 byte flash block over the process of running the SuSE installer. I remember in a previous job, we used an industrial 2.5" flash drive (back when they cost thousands of euro for 1GB) for running Windows 98 on a GPS receiver (which had 64MB of RAM in it) for a small personal helicopter.

Windows used the disk as swap, and we must have full formatted and reinstalled the disk about 8 times over it's lifetime (the GPS software was very flakey)

The device was rated at 500,000 program/erase cycles and it lasted well over 4 years of use before we replaced the disk (with an 3GB one.. helicopters need a lot of maps!). As far as I could tell, the disk was still usable and still had no program/erase problems. The actual amount of data written back and forth on the disk was therefore far less, even used as swap, and even being abused as it was with reinstalls and full formats, than the 256MB-per-block it needed to start failing some of them and running out of extra space.

Now, a USB key is NOT a multi-thousand-euro device. My 2GB stick cost me 50 Euro. By the time I can no longer write to it, I will buy another and it will probably cost me 20 Euro less for twice the space! For the purposes of running the SuSE installer once, I think this is rather affordable, and I certainly doubt you would ever get the kind of swap activity that would kill a USB key in the time it takes to install the SuSE distribution.

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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 12:16 pm
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If you have a graphics card with a decent amount of ram you could try to use that as swap space. It should be quite a bit faster than a usb stick :-)
http://gentoo-wiki.com/TIP_Use_memory_o ... rd_as_swap


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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 4:44 pm 
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Quote:
If you have a graphics card with a decent amount of ram you could try to use that as swap space. It should be quite a bit faster than a usb stick :-)
http://gentoo-wiki.com/TIP_Use_memory_o ... rd_as_swap
That conflicts with the operation of accelerated graphics drivers, though, and would really require you NOT to use anything but the Linux kernel framebuffer for graphics (never store anything in graphics memory).

When DRI does it's locking and some setup tasks for 3D, it does disable the card in the PCI configuration space. This doesn't make the card turn off or unconfigure but it does mean that accesses to the PCI memory space of that card are probably going to cause some undefined behaviour.

Textmode installer, very simple framebuffer graphics installer with no acceleration (Debian's new one uses DirectFB, Gentoo's uses X11, so they're out).

Simply put as long as you have to hack 16 DRM drivers to fix locking and also reserve the other half of PCI or AGP space on the card, it's not a very useful concept to give up the features of the graphics chip (which on the Efika is a quarter or more of your power budget) just for a few megabytes of super-fast swap space.

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 9:51 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 12:41 am
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I got a quick and dirty solution in the form of a boot parameter from one of the openSUSE developers. I did not try it yet, but looks nice :-)
Code:
insmod=vfat exec="mount /dev/sda1 /mnt ; dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/foo bs=1G count=1 ; mkswap /mnt/foo ; swapon /mnt/foo ; /usr/local/bin/umount -l /mnt"

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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2007 4:53 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 12:41 am
Posts: 1066
I just got this message:
Quote:
The latest linuxrc (version 2.1.25) can create swap partitions and swap
files now. If you're going for swap files, you have to watch out not to
reformat the partition later yourself.

To give it a try even if you have lots of RAM, boot with 'addswap=-1'.

Swap file size is 1024 MB or whatever you pass with swap.size=N (N = size
in MB).
I'm eagerly waiting, when a factory release with this linuxrc version will become available :-)

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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2007 1:32 am 
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Yesterday's 'factory' still does not include this feature, and is heavily broken. I'm downloading the latest (not yet fully arrived to mirrors) version, which hopefully will fix these ugly problems and also include the swap file functionality.

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http://czanik.blogs.balabit.com/


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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2007 12:48 pm 
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Still downloading, but one thing is already sure, a short quote form the ChangeLog:
Quote:
++++ linuxrc:

- withiscsi=1 now implies netsetup=1 (#271420)
- rewrote swap space dialog: it can create swap partitions
and files now

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