Setting up Debian 5.0 Lenny on an AILX board

In another geeky sidebar, I set up a little AILX box ( http://www.mini-box.com/Alix-2B-Board-2-LAN-2-MINI-PCI_3?sc=8&category=754 ) here in Thailand to share my internet with a few friends. I needed something low power with wireless and that motherboard with a USB wifi dongle I have fit the bill perfectly. I found the board, case, and a small CF card on ebay for just over $100. Awesome!

Installing debian and getting it configured was even easier than I remember the first time.

I wanted to minimize write’s to the CF card (as they only can be written a certain number of times) so I installed and setup the whole debian system in a QEMU VM first. I used QMEU with a RAW file so I could use dd to write it to the card later. So….

  1. Install Debian Lenny from net-install CD
  2. Used ext3 and a swap partition even though ext2 and noswap would be a better option for an SSD/CF card, oh well!
  3. Set it up with grub and the ‘desktop workstation’ selection from tasksel
  4. Rebooted into the system
  5. Added the freenx PPA for intrepid (it lines up with Lenny packages) (I may move to debian squeeze in the future at which point Lucid aka 10.04 is the one that lines up) and installed freenx and openssh
  6. Added the contrib and non-free repos to my sources.list
  7. Installed firestarter, firmware-ralink, htop, ntp
  8. Installed hamachi and set it to auto-start on bootup and make sure it’s logged in hourly via cron
  9. Set up the clock to use ntp via the Time/Date gui in Gnome
  10. Added an extra script to /etc/rc0.d and /etc/rc6.d that sets the system time to the hardware clock ( hwclock –systohc ) because it didn’t seem to be setting on shutdown or reboot (placed in /etc/rc.d and systemlinked to /etc/rc0.d and /etc/rc6.d)
  11. Stopped gdm from coming up by making the GDM startup entry in /etc/rc3.d non-executable
  12. Edited /etc/dhcp3/dhclient.conf and added "send host-name "MYHOSTNAMEHERE"; so that it would report properly to my router
  13. Made sure to apt-get clean
  14. Append noresume to the grub boot line to save boot time
  15. Took my RAW file and copied it to my CF card (dd if=AILX.raw of=/dev/NAMEOFCFCARDHERE
  16. Plugged everything in and tried it out
  17. Works like a charm!

In this case, there was no need to mess with a bootloader or anything else crazy. I didn’t even bother setting up a serial console for debugging without a monitor as I don’t have a computer with serial port here. In addition, with internet access it should come up on Hamachi wherever it is and allow me to ssh into it.

Phew. That’s documented, time to upload some pictures from the trip and finish blogging about it!