How Far Should I go?

Alan Post alanpost at
Mon Oct 24 15:58:40 EDT 2011

I've never tried; I doubt it would work, but only for these reasons:

 - I *think* we still have kernel patches in OpenWRT that aren't
   pushed upstream.  Those patches would need to be applied to your
	 kernel tree, along with the appropriate kernel config file.
 - The squashfs/tgz filesystem would need to be converted to
   something that can be flashed to the Ben.

Aboriginal Linux is not properly a linux distribution.  It's the
smallest possible self-hosting Linux system.  There is no curses
library, most of the tools included in busybox don't have files
in /etc set up, &c.

When I say it is qemu-ready, I mean that you can use the program
qemu to run the resulting system in that emulator.  The "novel"
thing to do in that emulator is of course to compile Aboriginal
Linux again. :-)


On Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 02:21:20PM -0500, cenobyte at wrote:
> When you say qemu ready, does that mean it will work on the Ben
> itself too? Would I reflash like for OpenWRT?
> On Mon, 24 Oct 2011 10:49:32 -0600, Alan Post wrote:
> >From any linux box you should be able to type:
> >
> > $ ./build mips
> >
> >From the aboriginal linux root directory and it will create a
> >quemu-ready
> >image for the mips platform.  IIRC, just typing ./build will give
> >you a list of platforms it builds for.
> >
> >-Alan
> >
> >On Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 01:33:30PM -0500, cenobyte at
> >wrote:
> >>The bootstrap linux looks easy, but do I need to do something
> >>special to build it for MIPS? I still build it from my external
> >>computer, right?
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>On Sun, 16 Oct 2011 00:25:04 -0600, Alan Post wrote:
> >>>On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 12:39:09AM -0500, cenobyte at
> >>>wrote:
> >>>>On Sat, 15 Oct 2011 23:24:32 -0600, Alan Post wrote:
> >>>>>On Sat, Oct 15, 2011 at 11:31:12PM -0500,
> >>cenobyte at
> >>>>>wrote:
> >>>>>>I am wondering what you all think about how far I, or any of
> >>>>us, for
> >>>>>>that matter, should go with hacking on the Ben. For one, Qi
> >>>>adapted
> >>>>>>OpenWRT rather than made a new distribution from (near)
> >>>>scratch. Was
> >>>>>>this due to time constraints, or something else? Would it be
> >>worth
> >>>>>>it for someone to learn the MIPS architecture sufficiently
> >>well to
> >>>>>>make a Ben Tailored OS? Or, since the new Nanonote may or
> >>may not
> >>>>>>have a similar chip, is it better to stay "on the surface" as it
> >>>>>>were and not get too involved in low-level stuff? Maybe the
> >>>>>>experience alone of deep MIPS knowledge will be worth it even
> >>>>if we
> >>>>>>move to another chip in the future? If one does not go
> >>deeper than
> >>>>>>the kernel and other basic utils, I suppose "from scratch" would
> >>>>>>mean getting a custom kernel and utils, tuning them, then
> >>building
> >>>>>>from there, right?  I think in general, x86 GNU/Linux is
> >>>>assumed to
> >>>>>>be as optimized as it could be, but I'm not sure about other
> >>>>>>architectures like ARM, MIPS, etc. Since someone has already
> >>done
> >>>>>>the work, perhaps it is not good to try and re-do it...?
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>If you'd like to stay with Linux, but are interested in
> >>moving off
> >>>>>of OpenWRT, you might find one of these projects interesting for
> >>>>>your effort:
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>Neither of these are "ready-to-go" for the Ben; the second isn't
> >>>>>strictly a distribution.  They are both an attempt to build the
> >>>>>smallest *self-hosting* linux environment, and in that role make
> >>>>>good bootstrapping tools.
> >>>>>
> >>>>>They're essentially one step above Linux From Scratch.
> >>>>>
> >>>>>-Alan
> >>>>
> >>>>By 'self hosting' do you mean that in a network sense, or in the
> >>>>sense that you can actually compile on them? That does sound
> >>>>interesting although I wonder if there are any systems that
> >>can run
> >>>>a full shell for the Ben (not busybox). Thanks for the interesting
> >>>>links.
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>>I mean self-hosting in the sense that one could recompile the image
> >>>for the Ben on the Ben.  With the caveat that with 32MB of memory,
> >>>some pieces of this process may well not compile due to memory
> >>>constraint.  It would certainly require telling gcc that it has a
> >>>memory limit.  IIRC gcc starts with a pretty generous assumption
> >>>of how much memory it has to work with.
> >>>
> >>>I'm not sure what self-hosting in a network sense is.  What would
> >>>that be?!
> >>>
> >>>-Alan
> >>
> >>
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.i ma'a lo bradi cu penmi gi'e du

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