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Linux VR CompactFlash Root HOWTO

By Bradley D. LaRonde (brad@ltc.com)

Introduction

Even a modest Linux distribution takes up some space, and keeping it all in a ramdisk eventually becomes impractical. The coolest solution is to replace the ROMs in the device, but since that's not an option (at least yet) for most devices, the next best thing is to mount root from a CompactFlash card.

Ingredients

  • A CompactFlash card for which you have no love of the contents, as this procedure will completely erase everything from your Compact Flash card. To use my prepared CF roots you need need a 16MB or larger CF card.
  • Appropriate "boot" and "root" archive from my ftp site.

Mounting Root from CompactFlash

  1. Insert the CompactFlash card into the Linux box. Note the hd designation. The rest of these instructions will use /dev/hde for example.
  2. Use Linux fdisk:
    fdisk /dev/hde
    to partition the CF card in two parts:
    PartitionKindSizeType
    1Primary2MBFAT12
    2PrimaryRemainderLinux

    You do not have to set the boot flag for either partition.

  3. Format the two CompactFlash partitions:
    mkdosfs /dev/hde1
    mke2fs /dev/hde2
  4. Extract the boot and root archives using the actual names instead of "boot" and "root":
    tar -xzf boot.tar.gz
    tar -xzf root.tar.gz
  5. Mount and copy the contents of the two archives to the partitions, again using the actual names of the extracted directories instead of "boot" and "root":
    mount /dev/hde1 /mnt -t vfat
    cp boot/* /mnt
    umount /mnt
    
    mount /dev/hde2 /mnt
    cp -a root/* /mnt
    umount /mnt
    Note: The -a option in the second copy is very important.
  6. Remove the CompactFlash card from the Linux box and insert it into your device.
  7. Launch cyace.exe on the storage card. Linux should start.
  8. When done using Linux, be sure to umount / then reset the device.

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