[Debian-olpc-devel] Running Debian on an XO

Jonas Smedegaard dr at jones.dk
Tue Nov 3 12:23:39 UTC 2009

Hi James (and everyone else),

On Tue, Nov 03, 2009 at 09:56:53PM +1100, James Cameron wrote:
>The "olpc-update debian" used to work, but I'm not surprised if it 
>doesn't now.  I can investigate that if you can tell me which OLPC 
>build was used to update from.  
>rsync://updates.laptop.org/build-debian/root/ contains the root 
>filesystem, so it should have worked.

It is, I believe, a couple of months ago that I switched to Debian 
myself.  Back then I first updated to the (at the time) newest official 
standard OLPC release, and only afterwards attempted an automated 
"upgrade" to Debian.

Saturday I am pretty sure (I didn't watch _all_ keystrokes of his) that 
Petter did exactly the same.

So I expect that it is easy to reproduce the problem by simply being 
up-to-date before trying.

>DebXO has replaced the "olpc-update debian" method.

How do you mean "replaced"?

DebXO is not Debian, so it does not make sense to me if OLPC intends to 
have the "olpc-update debian" command install DebXO instead of plain 

I must emphasize here: DebXO is great work!  I looked at the sources of 
that project while switching to Debian, to gain more knowledge on what 
parts I - as admin of my system - might want to cherry-pick and apply on 
top of my plain Debian.

>Also, as far as I recall debootstrap does not currently prepare a system
>with the necessary components for it to boot on an XO-1, so some
>unofficial mirrored result of a debootstrap is all that is available.
>Additional work is needed.  xodist includes this work.  A file
>/boot/olpc.fth is required, and a kernel with the XO-1 specific patches.

Hmmm - I am pretty sure that I run my XO using plain debian kernel and 
without any custom /boot/olpc.fth but I might be wrong - you probably 
know those parts better than me :-)

>Is there anything we can do to facilitate improvements to debootstrap or
>the packaging of xodist in debian?

I would like to understand better the actual tweaks needed, so that I 
can make a qualified choice on whether to be lazy and run DebXO or 
instead apply stuff manually on top of a plain Debian to be able to 
inspect each part myself more closely.

Maybe just point us to some public URLs to documentation on - and 
sources for - those boot-related stuff you mention above.

Perhaps, if possible, provide details on *all* code changes between 
plain Fedora and the XO-1 distribution.

Oh, and a minor detail that I just stumbled across earlier today: Did 
the older XO-1 releases really use yaird for the ramdisk images?  It 
seems so from http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Building_initramfs.  I am both 
Debian package maintainer and upstream maintainer of yaird, and am 
thrilled by the thought of this 
billied-out-of-Debian-by-kernel-maintainers tool being actively used in 
massive amounts through the OLPC project.  It might also be interesting 
to extend official yaird cherry-picking some of your big add-ons.  From 
a quick glance it is not obvious to me, however, if any of it might have 
a broader relevancy, so I could use some help/encouragements from any of 
you laptop.org developers who actually worked on those parts - if you 
see a relevancy of passing on those parts.

Kind regards,

 - Jonas

* Jonas Smedegaard - idealist & Internet-arkitekt
* Tlf.: +45 40843136  Website: http://dr.jones.dk/

  [x] quote me freely  [ ] ask before reusing  [ ] keep private
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