[Aboriginal] greetings!

David Henderson dhenderson at digital-pipe.com
Tue Aug 14 06:02:08 PDT 2012

Nice to hear from you Rob!  The below thread was already part of the
discussion, but it was good to see additional input. :)  The latest mail
should be dated Aug 2.


On Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 4:52 PM, Rob Landley <rob at landley.net> wrote:

> On 07/12/2012 09:24 AM, David Henderson wrote:
> > Wow and I often complain about my schedule! :)  Seems like you're
> > working on 28 hour work days! lol  This might be a good opportunity for
> > you to possibly offload some work then - at least on the distro
> > creation/maintenance side.
> Apparently, a chunk of messages from a month ago got missed. Catching up...
> (It's possible I already answered this one, but if so I don't remember it.)
> > My replies are in-line below to prevent confusion...
> ...
> >     Define "their work"?
> >
> >     I did "boot to a shell prompt on serial console, with native
> development
> >     tools", targeting various qemu platforms. This let people build code
> >     natively.
> >
> >     I didn't really tackle "what tools do you need on target", because
> >     everybody's needs are different and if you can build it natively,
> you've
> >     got wget and a toolchain.
> >
> >     The proliferation of boards is kind of amazing. A half-dozen projects
> >     from buildroot to OpenEmbedded accumulated buckets of board
> >     configurations, but never cleanly separated them out from toolchain
> and
> >     root filesystem config, and I decided the correct thing to do was get
> >     defconfigs upstream into linus's git.
> >
> > Their "work" would be anything the user normally does during the day:
> > email, word processing, listen to music, watch videos, program, etc.
> This is not a bounded set. Different people do different things.
> > While the distro won't contain all of the software for everyones "work"
> > (e.g. CAD users), it'll start with a set of software to perform the most
> > common tasks.
> Unfortunately the "most common tasks" really isn't a bounded set either.
> People are strange.
> > As time elapses, more and more can be added to include
> > users with more rare "work".  This software, however, will be installed
> > with their "personal data" as mentioned below.
> Good luck with it. I think that's a can of worms.
> >     > 2. Although the OS can be installed and run from a storage device,
> >     it's
> >     > intended to take a minimal amount of memory as it's home - RAM
> based.
> >     > This should make upgrading as simple as replacing a single file!
> >
> >     I remember ten years ago working out how to combine a kernel and root
> >     filesystem into a single file, and patching lilo to have a "length"
> >     parameter so it would only load the kernel and not the whole root
> >     filesystem into memory.
> >
> >       http://landley.net/aboriginal/old
> >
> >     I even worked out some unused space in the ELF header (for user mode
> >     linux, the emulator I was using at the time) which was the old floppy
> >     boot sector on real kernels so either way "unused space" that I could
> >     stamp a 4 byte length to say what offset losetup should use creating
> the
> >     loopback file for the root filesystem. (I used zisofs because
> squashfs
> >     wasn't merged yet.) Getting an initrd built into the kernel so it
> could
> >     do the loopback setup and hand off is what got me poking at
> initramfs in
> >     the first place...
> >
> >     Good times, good times...
> >
> >
> > Wow thats pretty interesting!  Currently XiniX uses grub, which I don't
> > think has an option like that.
> Neither did lilo, hence
> http://landley.net/aboriginal/old/lilo-length.patch
> >  Also, XiniX has the "firmware" and
> > Kernel separated (I didn't even know those two could be combined).
> Firmware turns out not to be a well-defined term, but between initramfs
> and Greg Ungerer's "Linux without a bootloader" (slides
> http://elinux.org/ELC_2010_Presentations video at
> http://free-electrons.com/blog/elce-2010-videos/ ) there's no reason you
> _can't_ do such a thing today. But it would be fairly hardware-specific.
> > I suppose the integration of the two can help maintain system stability
> > since everything is tested and released together...
> Not necessarily. Having orthogonal modules you can test independently
> and swap out different implementations of can help make the system work
> better too. Otherwise you get horrible version skew instability like the
> way udev only ever works with specific kernel versions.
> > Did you ever run
> > into any negative aspects when working like this?  The only one I can
> > see off the top of my head is that if the distro isn't updated
> > routinely, the kernel will get dated and present exploitable bugs to
> > crackers.
> If you're allowing arbitrary third parties to run random userspace code
> on your system, it needs to be administered. But if all it's got is a
> simple web server serving static pages out of a chroot there may not
> actually _be_ any way to exploit it.
> But the packaging mechanism was only mildly interesting, and I stopped
> doing it years ago because the bootloader built into qemu was a better
> solution for what I was trying to do.
> >     > 3. Having an easily usable interface that's common among the
> various
> >     > devices while being as simplistic and efficient as possible.
> >
> >     Shell prompt?  xfce?  Web gui for headless boxes?
> >
> >     Just getting the _drivers_ right for a wide variety of boards was a
> huge
> >     pain for me, and I was focusing on qemu. And I have to regression
> test
> >     them every kernel release and bisect some really nasty stuff
> sometimes.
> >     (I'm doing a writeup the most recent round of git bisect to teach
> people
> >     how to bisect bugs under adverse conditions. The one that broke
> armv5l's
> >     scsi driver was buried several bugs deep behind "the serial console
> >     broke", "build break", and so on...)
> >
> > Currently XiniX is CLI only, but hopefully by the end of next month the
> > graphical side will be up and running.
> So it's been a month.  How did that go?
> > In order to keep the size down
> > while maintaining flexibility, the GUI is entirely web-based so it works
> > with head and headless devices in a uniform, consistent way.  Also it
> > does have software such as QT and/or GTK installed for software that
> > currently doesn't have a web-interface-only alternative (and is also
> > required for the webkit backend).
> Back up: what problem are you trying to solve?
> With Aboriginal Linux, I'm solving the problem of cross compiling, by
> trying to eliminate anyone else's need to do it (at least as part of
> Linux development).
> The solution is in two parts: substitute native Linux development
> environments running under emulation, and perform the cross compiling
> necessary to _get_ to that native development environment in a
> reproducible way for a lot of different plaforms (so you're not trusting
> my magic binaries but don't have to do it yourself either).
> In the process I'm answering some related questions: "how small and
> simple can I get a native development environment" (to reduce the bits
> that need to be cross compiled), how do I get the utterly sucky
> performance of emulators to a point people are willing to put up with it
> (pick a good emulator and install distcc to help out), and "how do you
> bootstrap up from there to more complex native build environments in a
> target-agnostic way" (all those build-images as examples).
> But the core idea here is "get rid of the need for cross compiling", and
> that lets me know where my project STOPS.
> It lets me know I don't care about drivers for specific boards, that I
> don't care about QT, that I don't care about package management on the
> target, or target code installation (bootloaders, jtags, sdcard
> partitioning)... These are all things where once people have a working
> native development environment, they can take it from there. I don't
> _have_ to solve that for them.
> Your project seems to have a less clear dividing line between what you
> do and what you DON'T do. If you can't say "this is not part of this
> project", you get feature creep...
> > Maintaining stability for various aspects such as the drivers mentioned
> > above can be a pain.  While there will have to be testing and such for
> > third party hardware, the business will release "official" hardware that
> > will obviously be tested with the XiniX distro so that these issues
> > won't be a factor as often.
> Do you have any idea how _much_ third party hardware there is out there?
> >     > 4. A better, more logical division of the system and user for
> various
> >     > reasons.
> >
> >     Um, like Apple did with macosx? Like that /usr->/usr/bin move? Like
> >     gobolinux where they just went "screw it" and moved everything for no
> >     apparent reason?
> >
> >
> > Yeah something like that. :)  For example XiniX actually doesn't have a
> > /usr directory at all, but instead software is considered "system"
> > (which will be added to the firmware /bin, /sbin), "personal" (~/.bin,
> > ~/.sbin), or "community" (/home/public/.bin, /home/public/.sbin).  This
> > is done, again, to separate the system from the user/userbase and is
> > necessary for some of the design goals.  There are a few other
> > non-traditional aspects of the system too.
> Apple got away with it because they're apple. Fedora is trying to make a
> very minimal change in a backwards compatible way. You're adding
> _hidden_ executable directories... I really don't see that ending well.
> >     > While those are just a handful of ideas behind the distro, I'm not
> >     sure
> >     > if that's what you were looking for.  Currently the distro (named
> >     XiniX
> >     > - pronounced "zen ics") uses busybox, but I'd love to replace it
> with
> >     > toybox once the required binaries are incorporated.
> >
> >     I'm all for it...
> >
> >
> > Great!  I'll keep my eye on the development and incorporate it as soon
> > as I can!
> I'm working on it. Got a bit mugged by real life again...
> >     That's pretty much where I stop. I provide a basic tool, what people
> do
> >     with it from there I'm intentionally agnostic about because there
> are a
> >     more use cases for a knife than for nail clippers and vegetable
> peelers
> >     combined.
> >
> > That simple system would be ideal for a VM server though, don't you
> > think?  After all, that system should *not* contain anything but the
> > necessities to boot and run whatever, more complex systems via VM's
> right?
> Sure. I'm always happy when people find a use for the tools I provide,
> but I'm trying hard to stay agnostic about what use those tools might be
> put to.
> I'll happily respond to "I need it to do X because Y", that's great
> feedback. But "my hammer keeps scratching the surfaces I'm pounding
> dents out of" means I say "here's how you can wrap some cloth around it,
> and some example cloth", not "from now on it will come wrapped in cloth
> by default".
> > So are you trying to accomplish the goal of developing an SDK with
> > aboriginal Linux?  What are your goals and intended audience with that
> > distro?
> See above. "Make cross compiling go away."
> Note that cross compiling includes "building a uClibc system under a
> glibc system", and next up a musl system. (Assembling a toolchain in
> general is hard and fiddly.)
> >     Rob
> >     --
> >     GNU/Linux isn't: Linux=GPLv2, GNU=GPLv3+, they can't share code.
> >     Either it's "mere aggregation", or a license violation.  Pick one.
> >
> >
> > Looking at your signature, it reminded me of another questions I wanted
> > to ask you.  If I were to guess, I'd say that you were more of a GPLv2
> > guy.  Having said that, and I know this could take up pages worth of
> > information, but as an overview why the dislike for the GPLv3?  Perhaps
> > 'dislike' isn't the right word, but I'm sure you understand what I'm
> asking.
> I need to finish writing up my thing on that. I've got a long file full
> of notes...
> > As always, thanks for your time!
> > Dave
> Sorry I'm so far behind. I need to amend the kernel MAINTAINERS file to
> exclude the device trees subdirectory, but I've been holding off until I
> get the PGP signatures to reestablish kernel.org access so I can put a
> git tree up there I can submit stuff through, and sometimes "I refuse to
> fix this until I do it RIGHT" can lead to piles of side effects imposed
> upon oneself as a weird sort of peanance. My inbox is like that right now.
> Rob
> --
> GNU/Linux isn't: Linux=GPLv2, GNU=GPLv3+, they can't share code.
> Either it's "mere aggregation", or a license violation.  Pick one.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.landley.net/pipermail/aboriginal-landley.net/attachments/20120814/f30eac21/attachment-0003.htm>

More information about the Aboriginal mailing list