power of "apt-get install" example: Linksys NSLU2 is now official supported by Debian installer, 2. free ARM emulator QEMU

Rod Whitby rod at whitby.id.au
Thu Nov 16 23:20:23 CET 2006

Robert Michel wrote:
>>> 1. Linksys NAS NSLU2 (ARM CPU) is now officiall supported by the
>>>    Debian installer
>> It has been support by the slugos installer for some years now, and slugos is built with
>> openembedded like openmoko.
> Ok, but with Debian support I does not know or care about slugos
> installer - same source, same tools....

The Debian support (as far as the central kernel support, network driver
support, LEDs support, RTC support, etc goes) is based on the
SlugOS/OpenEmbedded work done by the NSLU2-Linux project (which I lead).

NSLU2-Linux just doesn't have the same Press Release capabilities and
experience that Debian has :-)

It's all steps in a process.  First someone works out how to "hack" the
vendor firmware.  Then add-on packages are released which work with the
vendor firmware.  Then a customised open-source firmware is released,
with it's own set of packages.  Then a desktop distribution (like Debian
or Gentoo) has support added for the new target.

Luckily, for OpenMoko, the first three steps of that process have been
short-circuited by the foresight of this new paradigm in consumer

For the NSLU2, it took a year of custom firmware (which as Koen notes,
is based on the same base system as OpenMoko) before we could even
convince Debian people to look at the device.  And it has taken nine
months from the first Debian proof-of-concept to the point now where all
the features which were in SlugOS from the beginning have now been
integrated into Debian.  Some people still say that the SlugOS firmware
has better recovery features than the Debian installer firmware.  The
Debian installer firmware is certainly easier to install for someone who
does not know how to use the Linux command line.

> BTW Security - the official Debian NSLU2 installation didn't include the
> close source ethernet driver

The SlugOS/OpenEmbedded distribution is testing the new open-source
ethernet driver, which replaces the proprietary Intel driver.  SlugOS
has supported the internal ethernet device from day one (over two years
ago).  We believe it is the popularity of the NSLU2 project which has
encouraged the development of an open-source replacement for the Intel

> type in:
> apt-get install asterisk <return>
> and now you will have in a few minutes the power of asterisk
> (www.asterisk.org) the great powerfull open telefon server
> on your small NAS box
> just from the debian servers - without building own packets
> or compiling....

Type in:

ipkg install asterisk

and you get the same thing on SlugOS/OpenEmbedded, but you had it six
months earlier than you could do it on Debian.

>> OE has been using qemu to emulate various things during crosscompiling for a while now.
>> I guess old news gets recycled once debian does it ;)
> Ok, could be old (cold) coffee for most on this list
> - sorry to bother you ;)
> But debian makes things easyer to use (with less knowledge)
> and more populare.

Indeed it does, but the basic new features (at least in the NSLU2 case)
have always been prototyped and shown to work on the custom
OpenEmbedded-based firmware first.  I would be more inclined to expect
OpenEmbedded developers (who only work with embedded devices) to be able
to get the most out new embedded device firmware, compared to the
majority of Debian developers who only ever work on an x86 desktop (and
perhaps do not even know what cross-compiling is).  No disrespect to
Debian - they have caused a 12.5% increase in NSLU2-Linux custom
firmware downloads (40,000 -> 45,000), so there definitely is an
audience of users who need a simple to install, but perhaps not as
optimised or robust, platform.

-- Rod Whitby
-- NSLU2-Linux Project Lead, waiting for a Neo ...

More information about the community mailing list