Minimal Linux Live: Linux from scratch

tux_compDid you ever want to spin your own distro with a few set of useful utilities like a Swiss Army Knife? Minimal Linux Live is the project you should refer. The project comes with a few scripts which are the foundation of creating a tiny distro from scratch. You can keep building on top of it easily and finally spin a Linux distro with utilities you need. let’s check out how. Continue reading Minimal Linux Live: Linux from scratch

Boot single UEFI image to shell

tux_compHarald Hoyer from Red Hat has come up with a demonstration of booting the Linux kernel to a command prompt on a UEFI device using a single image. It is the userland proof of concept for the work done by Kay Sievers and David Herrmann in gummiboot. They created a UEFI loader which starts a linux kernel with an initrd and a kernel cmdline, all stuffed-in as the COFF section of the executable.

Hover did this using a shell script which creates a rescue image on Fedora using a rescue kernel and rescue initrd. The kernel cmdline parameter rd.retry is set to 20 seconds to wait for devices. Finally it drops to a shell as the root device is specified as “root=/dev/failme” which does not exist. You can fsck your devices, mount them and repair your system from this shell.

To try it out on Fedora, run:

# yum install gummiboot binutils
# wget
# chmod +x
# bash BOOTX64.EFI

Copy the generated BOOTX64.EFI to a UEFI-formatted bootable FAT32 USB volume under EFI/BOOT/ and point your BIOS to boot from the USB stick. If you are not sure how to create the FAT32 volume, refer to my earlier article on creating a UEFI bootable ArchBang USB.


CrunchBang returns as #!++

crunchbang_compCrunchBang is a thin Openbox based Linux distro (Debian derivative) that went off the radar last week. However, good things just don’t disappear in open source and CrunchBang is being revived as CrunchBang++. It’s based on Debian Jessie packages.

The devs intend to retain the beauty and efficiency of the popular distro with new UI, updated dependencies and latest packages.

A 32-bit beta (CBPP_beta_02132015) has been released. Download it here.

Info & Bugs

The beta is spun off Debian netinst and hence needs your internet connection up to finish the installation. Issues are expected but experienced users might already be familiar with those. The devs recommnd installing it on a virtual machine. A 64-bit ISO is planned. Known glitches:

  • Thunar home shortcuts are missing (change manually in ~/.gtk-bookmarks)
  • cb-welcome prompts are mostly/all non-responsive
  • cb-pipemenus (Install Chromium, Install LibreOffice, etc.) are largely non-responsive

Webpage: #!++

Stresslinux: load test your box

Want to put your system under extreme load and test the performance, stability and thermal conditions? If you are a system builder, overclocker or the die-hard gamer looking for a robust hardware, you might. Stresslinux is a Linux mini-disto to do all kind of hardware load testing.

Stresslinux is built from SUSE Studio build system and is a OpenSUSE variant. It can run from a bootable cdrom, usb, virtual machine or via PXE (wip). It comes with cmdline utilities for system stress testing and does not have a GUI.

The default username and password for Stresslinux is stress. The user is a sudoer. The default root password is stresslinux.

Let’s check out some of the tools that come with Stresslinux:

  • stress: workload generator for POSIX systems. It imposes a configurable amount of CPU, memory, I/O, and disk stress on the system.
  • cpuburn: overclock and test your CPU.
  • hddtemp: monitor hard disk temperature.
  • lm_sensors: read CPU temperature sensor chip data.
  • mprime: overclock and test system stability.
  • smartmontools: monitor S.M.A.R.T. attributes and run hard drive self-tests.
  • memtester: userspace utility for testing the memory subsystem for faults.
  • netperf: network performance benchmarking tool.
  • ramspeed: a cache and memory benchmarking tool.
  • y-cruncher: scalable multi-threaded Pi-benchmark for multi-core systems.

The distro has versions to be downloaded for burning on both Linux and Windows. The download size is around 200MB.

Webpage: Stresslinux

Snappy Ubuntu Core for IoT, drones and what not!

ubuntu_logo_81x81Canonical announced a new mod of Ubuntu, named Ubuntu Core (aka Snappy) which is literally the stripped-down version of Ubuntu. This flavour is very thin in size as well as memory requirements and will be based on Ubuntu 15.04, to be released in April this year. Continue reading Snappy Ubuntu Core for IoT, drones and what not!

Static Linux: Linux with handpicked static tools

tux_compStatically linked executables run faster than dynamically linked executables because of the time saved in loading libraries from the filesystem and linking the necessary information. However, statically linked executables can be of considerably larger size as all the information is in the same binary. Continue reading Static Linux: Linux with handpicked static tools

DSLR: a mini distro with a difference

tux_compDSLR (Damn Small Linux Remake) is an independent distro that gives importance to functional software over the bleeding-edge. Though the name may remind of the Damn Small Linux distro which catered only to very old hardware (to the extent that it never updated its kernel beyond 2.4.x), DSLR is built from the scratch in-house. The distro is available in 4 flavours – both 32 and 64-bit for UEFI and BIOS (which fits it into our earlier article on Linux mini distros with UEFI support).

The sizes of all the flavours are around 100MB and they include many applications by default. After downloading the image of you need (from the home page), you can burn it or write it to a flash media using dd. Then, boot it – the graphical environment will be started automatically within a few seconds. The root password is root.

DSLR relies on older software those are functional and lightweight. For example, Ted is the text processor and Dillo is the browser. This makes it incredibly fast and eligible to run on older hardware. The 32-bit flavours are i686-optimized, but should work on i486 and above. DSLR can also work as a server.

Webpage: DSLR

LinuxBBQ: minimal Linux distros for all

LinuxBBQ is literally Linux on fire! Speak of window managers or customization. LinuxBBQ has it! At the time of writing it boasts of 100 editions with different combinations of 70 window managers. And there’s one unique edition with all 70 of them packaged together! I guess it’ll be too difficult to choose a single favourite with all the options available.

100 custom Linux editions and 70 window managers!

LinuxBBQ is developed based on Debian GNU/Linux “sid” branch. The kernels and tools are from multiple distros like siduction, grml and Linux Mint. The distros can be downloaded from the project’s SourceForge page. Do read the distro descriptions before starting the download. If you have a specific purpose some of them might not be suitable. Features:

  • Over 40.000 packages in the repositories
  • Minimal installation media based on Debian Sid
  • Tools to create own Debian Sid-based distribution
  • Desktop integrated alerts for new upgrades
  • Fresh and obscure apps added regularly directly from the devs
  • All window managers in LinuxLand get their own release
  • Many base desktops to start from
  • No-X and framebuffer-enabled releases available
  • Special editions for scientists, musicians, developers
  • Emacspeak release for blind users exclusively created by LinuxBBQ!
  • Active, friendly and helpful community
  • Community-based editions created regularly
  • A penetration testing version Penbang
  • Excellent documentation: manual (cookbook), Wiki, forums
  • Fast, light and responsive base system
  • All releases feature systemd
  • i686 and amd64 supported
  • Over 50 terminal apps for daily tasks and CLI games included
  • Improved hardware support
  • All base editions fit a CD, minimal rescue system fits 256MB USB
  • Branch based on Ubuntu 13.10 available at the time of writing

Default username and password for all distros is bbq.

Webpage: LinuxBBQ

Redo: backup and restore Linux

In our past articles we wrote about Linux backup/restore/imaging solutions like Mondo Rescue and BakAndImgCD. We came across another easy to use backup solution – Redo. Redo is essentially a 250MB Linux live distro that can boot from USB and take a backup or your system or restore it from a previous image. Redo is very easy to use because of it’s simplistic approach to solve the problem. It is a GPLv3 Perl script built with a GTK2+ interface designed in Glade. The imaging is done by partclone. Features include:

  • No installation needed; runs from a CD-ROM or a USB stick
  • Easy and pretty GUI boots from CD in less than a minute
  • Saves and restores Linux and Windows machines
  • Automatically finds local network shares
  • Access your files even if you can’t log in
  • Recover deleted pictures, documents, and other files
  • Internet access with a full-featured browser to download drivers
  • Drive configuration tools and factory drive reset option
  • Open source and free

Redo comes as an ISO. You can download it from Redo homepage (linked below). Create a live USB using Unetbootin and start backing up your Linux box!

Webpage: Redo