Bering-uClibc 5.x - Developer Guide - Building an Image

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Building an Image
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Boot Disk Media

For Bering-uClibc 3.x the script tools/ was used to build the image files. Two image variants were supported:

  • fd for Floppy Disk media
  • iso for ISO 9660 CD-ROM media

For Bering-uClibc 5.x Floppy Disk is no longer a viable option because of the size of the distribution. Floppy disks drives are also typically not installed on modern systems (and not that many modern systems have built-in CD-ROM drives either).

Most users of Bering-uClibc 5.x are expected to boot from some sort of flash drive, most likely:

  • A Compact Flash (CF) card which is installed:
    • Directly onto the main board (as with the the PC Engines ALIX boards)
    • Into an IDE-to-CF adaptor
    • Into a USB-to-CF adaptor
  • A USB flash drive

For all of these a disk image which boots using SYSLINUX is required. A CD-ROM image which boots using ISOLINUX is also required as an alternative. (A .iso image is particularly useful for testing Bering-uClibc 5.x with a Virtual Machine.)

In theory, PXE boot using PXELINUX is an option for LEAF though this is not currently supported by Bering-uClibc 5.x. While PXE can easily deliver the kernel image and the initrd image, delivering the .lrp files is more problematic and saving changes is more complex still. Other Linux distributions solve this problem by delivering files using TFTP or using NFS - see for example - but adding the necessary support would require additional modules in initrd.lrp and would require modifications to /init.

For Bering-uClibc 4.x there is a new script - - which is heavily based on and which is controlled by a similar style of configuration file. Each target image has its own configuration file (buildimage.cfg) stored in its own directory (under buildtool/image) which specifies how the results of the build process are combined with configuration file templates to construct the final disk image contents.

Different variants of disk image files are supported:

  • Different kernel architecture optimizations (e.g. i486, i686, geode)
  • Different boot loader variants (e.g. isolinux, pxelinux, syslinux)
  • Different variants for other reasons (e.g. vga for standard VGA consoles, ser for RS-232 serial consoles)

The naming convention for the buildtool/image directories is:

  • "Bering-uClibc" as a literal string
  • The Kernel architecture, e.g. "i686"
  • The boot loader name, e.g. "syslinux"
  • The "other" variant, e.g. "vga"

The full directory name is therefore e.g. "Bering-uClibc_i686_syslinux_vga"

A buildimage.cfg file typically specifies that the image is constructed by copying files as shown below:

        *.lrp                            Copied to / on all images, controlled by configuration file
        initrd-$KARCH                    Copied to /initrd.lrp, controlled by configuration file
            linux-$KARCH                 Copied to /isolinux/linux or /syslinux/linux on all images
                    *                    Built into /modules.tgz, excluding the build and source sub-directories
                leaf.cfg                 Copied to / on all images, edited to replace LRP and PKGPATH place holders
                readme                   Copied to / on all images, edited to replace VERSION and DATE place holders
                isolinx.cfg              Copied to /isolinux on ISOLINUX images, edited to replace LRPCFG place holder
                isolinux.dpy             Copied to /isolinux on ISOLINUX images, edited to replace VERSION and DATE place holders
                syslinux.cfg             Copied to /syslinux on SYSLINUX images, edited to replace LRPCFG place holder
                sysliuux.dpy             Copied to /syslinux on SYSLINUX images, edited to replace VERSION and DATE place holders

TODO What about LWP files?

TODO Add more info about < once it is developed and tested.

The result of running < is a single file located alongside the relevant buildimage.cfg

  • For an ISOLINUX image this is a .iso file which is typically burned to CD-R/RW media
  • For a SYSLINUX image this a .tar.gz file which must be copied to a suitably prepared flash drive
  • For a PXELINUX image this a .tar.gz file which must be copied to a TFTP server
    • QUESTION Offer .zip as an alternative, for Windows users?

Flash Drive Preparation for SYSLINUX

Flash drive media used for booting Bering-uClibc 4.x should be configured to meet the following criteria:

  • A single disk partition which is specified to be Bootable and with a file system type which matches the installed file system
    • File system hex code "b" which fdisk lists as "W95 FAT32" is recommended
    • QUESTION When is "c" which fdisk lists as "W95 FAT32 LBA" required / desirable?
  • A file system on that disk partition which is compatible with the Linux vfat driver
    • FAT32 is recommended
  • A SYSLINUX install on that disk partition (which creates /ldlinux.sys and installs the MBR)

The contents of the generated .tar.gz file can then be copied onto the flash drive.

The procedure for all this will need to be detailed in the Bering-uClibc 5.x - User Guide

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