[Grml] Mobile GRML

Michael Prokop mika at grml.org
Fri Nov 18 23:49:54 CET 2005

* Mark <or2uvma02 at sneakemail.com> [20051118 22:58]:

> GRML is very nice work, my new favorite distro.  I'm not a heavy
> sysadmin; but GRML almost matches some needs here.  Since you ask for
> feedback and wishes...mine relates to grml2hd and the user scenario.

> The grml-small release is great for USB flash sticks.  Thank you for
> providing that.


> Consider another scenario with grml-big.  Think of a "mobile Linux
> desktop" on this type of device,

> http://mobilemag.com/content/100/334/C3401/
> http://castle.pricewatch.com/s/search.asp?s=WD+passport&srt=t&his=0&paging=1

> These drives have lots of room for less money than flash, without
> lifespan problems.  They sell around US$120 and get cheaper all the
> time.  They allow a mobile user to carry his entire desktop and data
> between home, work, school, friends, hotel.  Let other people carry
> laptops around, you can boot them too.

Nice. :)

> GRML doesn't load down heavy stuff in advance, which I like.  After GRML
> installs, I can add GNOME or KDE per user requests.

> So, I ran grml2hd to a drive and rebooted...but got a kernel panic.  No
> SCSI, I guess.  Next I followed verbatim FAQ instructions, to test the
> FAQ.  Nothing worked.

Kernel panic sounds like access to root-partition is not possible.
Usually this happens on /dev/sd* devices (so USB as well), but I'm
currently working on initrd-support for grml2hd (works already,
needs just some more tests before going public within the next few
days). So this issue should be fixed with upcoming release.

> grml2hd makes the same assumption of all installers:  if the OS is
> going to hard disk, it can ditch drivers and keep only the running
> system.  For example even yaird boasts of doing "a better job of
> deciding which modules are needed for your system, so it produces
> smaller images." Culling is evil for the mobile scenario.
> Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but...

Yes, that's wrong. ;)

Basically you get all the hardware recognition even on your harddisk
installation (if you don't deactivate it via grml-autoconfig).
Feature! :) Only the original initrd (the one used on the live-ISO)
gets dropped.

I plan to support initird via yaird within grml2hd (that's what
works so far in my current develrelease), but I'm observing
http://wiki.debian.org/InitrdReplacementOptions to stay as far as
possible on the debian way of life.

> Ideally a mobile user boots like the CD-ROM (same ramdisk-based
> autodetection?), but without compressed CD images, ISOLINUX, or loopback
> tricks.  The mobile user just needs Debian with full hardware
> auto-detection and all hardware modules.

> I would prefer h/w autodetection even on IDE drives inside tower PC
> cases.  That way I can swap boards, memory, ethernet, etc. without
> breaking configs.

Well, this works already. :)

> I can drop the IDE drive into a USB enclosure for instant
> mobility.

Ok, that's the initrd-problem. ;-) But what I'd like to prevent is
to invent "Yet Another Initrd Generator". ;-)

To be more verbose:

If yaird once supports booting from USB device, firewire and so on I
don't see any arguments against using yaird within grml2hd.  As soon
as access to the root-device is possible, hardware detection is
possible and done via grml-autoconfig. *If* yaird won't support
booting from usb, firewire,... I'll investigate some time into an
initrd mechanism which provides the flexibility of grml's initrd.
(Basically I'd rewrite grml's initrd.)

Conclusio: The mechanism for accessing the USB device (as you would
like to use it) through initrd will be possible with grml in an
upcoming version.  It's just a matter of time how development of
initramfs-tools and yaird at Debian is going on. Stay tuned. :)

> A few other other ideas:

> - the status line at bottom of screen shows date/time *twice* (?!?)

'cause I like it that way. ;)

> - show IP on the status line (w/ flag for DHCP or static)

Hmmm, I'll think about it. (Whether it's possible to implement it

> - grml2hd could offer multi-partition features, e.g. a separate boot
> partition

It's on our todolist, we are not yet sure how we will implement it.
Basically it's just lack of time... And in the meanwhile: grml's
target audience should know how to edit fstab entries. ;)

> - grml2hd could set up secure partitions --
> http://mareichelt.de/pub/texts.cryptoloop.php -- optional choice for all
> top-levels /home /var and such, except /boot

Support for cryptsetup-luks enabled partition might follow in an
upcoming release. (See http://wiki.grml.org/doku.php?id=todo for our

> - grml2hd's X question for the mobile scenario is puzzling; yes the user
> needs X, but not for a specific PC

Well, just rerun grml-x on the "new" computer as user root:

grml-x -force -nostart

The integration of grml-x within grml2hd just ensures that the user
can start X on hard disk installation without root permissions, even
if he hasn't used X yet.

> - grml-big won't fit on CD-RW media or older (650 MB) CD-R; would be
> nice to fit on CD-RW, could trim a little to fit

It's not true for CD-RW medias, I'm burning grml on 700MB CD-RWs. ;-)
Trimming the ISO is absolutely no option, it's already an awful
hard job to keep all the package wishes within 700MB. ;-(

> Thanks...GRML is super and I like it.

Great to hear. :) Thanks for your feedback!

 http://grml.org/            # Linux for texttool-users and sysadmins
 http://wiki.grml.org/       # share your knowledge
 http://grml.supersized.org/ # the grml development weblog
 #grml @ irc.freenode.org    # meet us on irc
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.mur.at/pipermail/grml/attachments/20051118/73a9fd0f/attachment-0001.pgp 

More information about the Grml mailing list