Running Debian GNU with kFreeBSD

As you could have guess considering my latest update to my iPXE setup, I’m currently giving a try to Debian GNU along with FreeBSD kernel – Debian GNU/kFreeBSD.

The hardware I’m giving this try with is neither simple nor complicated: it’s old but it’s also laptop; a Dell Latitude C640 with a P4 mobile CPU and 1GB RAM.

The install was made over network. There’s nothing overly complicated but to avoid wasting time, it’s always good to properly RTFM. For instance, I learned too late that kFreeBSD does not handle / partition set on a logical one. I did not understood exactly how come, but I had to get my / partition on ufs (ext2 for /home was ok though). I did not even got into ZFS, as it looks like it’s not recommended with a simple i686 CPU. It took me a while and find no way to get my NFS4 partitions mounted as usual from /etc/fstab, or even with mount, I had to add a dirty call to /sbin/mount_nfs -o nfsv4 gate:/all /path in /etc/rc.local. And when it came to Xorg, I found the mouse to be sometimes working, sometimes not, plenty of overly complicated and confusing info on the web, to finally come up with a working /etc/X11/xorg.conf containing only  Section “ServerFlags”  Option “AutoAddDevices” “False” EndSection (on three lines).

These are some little inconveniencies that you would not expect with a recent GNU/Linux system install, that the debian-installer does not prevent you in any way to hit/create. I’m not even sure that I found the best fixes for them. It feels a bit like installing RedHat 5.2 🙂 with is more than what I actually expected.

So far I did not encountered any issue to get anything working but the suspend/sleep and general energy management looks much less reliable (with xfce4). On a side note, the fact that only OSS is available with kFreeBSD pushed me to update my script, I expect it to run on any BSD now.

Booting over the network to install the system (improved, with iPXE instead of PXE)

A few month ago, I provided my setup using pxelinux, isc-dhcpd and tftdp-hpa in order to make possible boot on lan. I improved this setup to chainload iPXE instead. I’m not interested in overwrite ROMs of ethernet devices I have so I still use PXE but only in order to get to iPXE that is way more powerful, as it allows direct access over http and much more.

The README in the my PXE directory explains the whole (quite short actually) install from scratch process. If you had the previous version running, note that the DHCPD configuration and update script changed (and the case of subdirectories changed too).