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Porting OpenEmbedded Thud release

March 21, 2019 — BarryK

The packages used in EasyOS 0.9.x - 1.0.x were compiled by "oe-qky-src", which is a port of the "Pyro" release of Yocto/OpenEmbedded:

https://github.com/bkauler/oe-qky-src

The Yocto/OpenEmbedded release schedule is here:

https://wiki.yoctoproject.org/wiki/Releases

...Pyro was released in May 2017, and EasyOS is showing its age a bit. Nothing really wrong with the older glibc, gcc, etc., but EasyOS is probably due for a freshen-up with later packages.

I did do a partial upgrade of the Xorg and some multimedia packages, from the "Sumo" release awhile back.

Anyway, now having a go at a complete upgrade, to the latest stable release, codenamed "Thud", version 2.6.1.

Intention is, there will be a new repository, probably at github.com, named "oe-easy-src".

It is doing a compile right now, with the Thud package recipes as-is, just to see if it will compile. If that succeeds, I will port some recipe modifications that were applied in oe-qky-src, and about a hundred extra packages that are not in Yocto/OpenEmbedded -- for which I created recipes. 

Tags: oe

Grey Nomads of no fixed address

March 18, 2019 — BarryK

In Australia we have a phenomenon known as "the grey nomads", retired couples or individuals, who have taken to the road with caravan, motorhome or campervan, periodically or permanently.

The "permanent" category is very interesting. These are people who have sold their house, or maybe have rented it out, and are on-the-road indefinitely.

Grey nomads even have their own websites and forums, such as this one:

http://www.thegreynomads.com.au/

Those who no longer have a permanent address, have issues with the authorities. The Australian Electoral Commission recognizes "itinerant voters", so voting in Federal and State elections is not a problem -- they just use your last residential address as your location for State elections.

However, the driver's license does require a fixed address, as does vehicle insurance. There is a lot of discussion on the forums as to what to do about this, and most people use a son or daughter's address, or a friend.

One complication is that you have to keep moving. If residing in a State for more than three months, it is required to have the vehicles re-registered in that State. Apparently, the police do actually check that, if they pull you over for whatever reason.

Another possibility is to find a caravan park with very cheap permanent rate. So you pay for it even when not there. That way, you have a permanent address for mail and to come back to. There are some caravan parks that cater to this and charge less while you are away.

This is tempting. I am currently "between houses". Sold my place in the countryside several years ago, now living at a relative's house. Was planning to buy a place in a country town, but hey, no rush, this permanent grey nomad gig might be worth a try. 

Thinking of that 9ft Euro Glider caravan, what a challenge it will be to reduce all belongings down to fit in that van! 

Tags: light

New install tutorial pre-existing rEFind

March 17, 2019 — BarryK

Here it is:

https://easyos.org/install/install-to-pc-with-existing-refind-boot-manager.html 

This is for modern PCs with UEFI-firmware.

I am keen on rEFind, but if you have some other boot manager installed, such as GRUB2, the above tutorial can probably be adapted. 

Tags: easy

EasyOS 1.0.14 international builds

March 16, 2019 — BarryK

Here they are:

http://distro.ibiblio.org/easyos/amd64/releases/pyro/1.0.14/international/

...de, es, fr, pl, pt, ru 

Tags: easy

Frugal install to mid-tower PC with shared ESP

March 15, 2019 — BarryK

I have just now installed Easy 1.0.14 on my mid-tower PC. The previous owner built this with various parts. A HP motherboard with UEFI-firmware, i5 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, and I have since added a 4TB hard drive and a 500GB SSD. No Windows.

sda has these partitions:

sda1  ESP fat32
sda2  Quirky Pyro 0.6.2
sda3  Quirky Xerus 8.3
sda5  Quirky Xerus 8.6
sda7  file storage
sda7  swap
sda8  Slackware 14.2
sda9  unused
sda10 unused

sda1 has reFind, which was accomplished simply by copying the "EFI" folder from one of the EasyOS USB-sticks, and edit the entries in EFI/BOOT/refind.conf appropriately.

All of those installations are full installs, and an entry in refind.conf looks like this:

menuentry "Slackware64 14.2 (sda8)" {
loader /vmlinuz-slackware-4.4.14
ostype linux
options "root=PARTUUID=64685683-08 rootwait rw"
}

...where "64685683" is the disk-identifier of sda, and the "-08" means partition number 8.

The kernels for all of these installations has to be in the ESP, that is, the fat32 partition that has its "esp" flag set, thus recognised as a boot partition by the UEFI. So, this is what is in sda1:

img1

That is OK for full installations, but Easy requires a frugal install, and the three files vmlinuz, easy.sfs and initrd must all be in the boot-partition.

I could create another ESP partition, however, to share the existing one, it will have to be big enough to hold all three of those files. Well, I had anticipated this, so sda1 is 640MB.

If your PC has a smaller ESP, then you won't be able to do this. If anyone knows a clever way around this, let me know. Probably the init script in the initrd could be hacked to find easy.sfs somewhere else.

I installed the three files, got them off the USB-stick:

img2

The usual next step: click on initrd to fix BOOT_SPECS. In this case, it could not be auto-fixed, as Easy did not know where the working-partition is, so BOOT_SPECS had to be edited manually:

BOOT_UUID='698C-C460'
BOOT_DIR='easy/'
WKG_UUID='dfe45104-fbb1-4216-81f8-847ad601f9a1'
WKG_DIR='easy/'

I found out the UUID like this:

# blkid /dev/sda9
/dev/sda9: LABEL="intern9" UUID="dfe45104-fbb1-4216-81f8-847ad601f9a1" TYPE="ext4"

The WKG_UUID is sda9, which I chose because currently not being used for anything. There is one extra thing to do, if want the security of encrypted folders:

# tune2fs -O encrypt /dev/sda9

The only thing left to do is insert an entry into EFI/BOOT/refind.conf:

menuentry "EasyOS (frugal install sda9)" {
loader /easy/vmlinuz
ostype linux
options "initrd=/easy/initrd rw"
submenuentry "Filesystem check" {
add_options "qfix=fsck"
}
submenuentry "Commandline only, do not start X" {
add_options "qfix=nox"
}
submenuentry "Rollback to last snapshot" {
add_options "qfix=bak"
}
submenuentry "Rollback to pristine first-bootup" {
add_options "qfix=new"
}
}

That's it, done. Rebooted, and running it now. Notice that I did not put the version number into "menuentry" title. This is because I intend to upgrade this installation, and keep history of past versions. So, really, it will be multi-version. 

I want to use this installation as a test-bed, that upgrade/downgrade, rollback/roll-forward works over many versions. 

EDIT 20190315:

Well, well, I didn't know that this can be done:

https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=171994

That changes everything! OK, I will redo the installation, with those three files not in the ESP. This is great news! 

EDIT 20190316:

Aaaaargh! Last night I spent hours trying to figure out why rEFind wasn't working. As per the above link, "volume <label>" can be used to specify another partition where vmlinuz and initrd are located. So, I did a frugal install to sda9, boot-partition and working-partition both sda9, and it didn't work.

Yes, a refind ext4 driver is required, had that. Eventually discovered that rEFind does not recognize ext4 partitions in which the "encrypt" flag is set. I had run this:

# tune2fs -O encrypt /dev/sda9

...this does not encrypt anything, just enables the capability of per-folder encryption, and the partition is mountable and usable as before. Except that rEFind no longer sees it.

Took a few hours before the penny dropped. The solution is to have any other partition for the boot-partition. I created a fat32 640MB partition for that purpose -- not an ESP, just a normal partition. Yep, success.

I plan to write a tutorial on this. 

Tags: easy

EasyOS version 1.0.14 released

March 15, 2019 — BarryK

Yes, another one! Version 1.0.13 was released barely 24 hours ago:

http://bkhome.org/news/201903/easyos-version-1013-released.html

The reason for this rapid version-jump, is that I decided to go back to NetworkManager. Or rather, they are all still there, UltraSNS included, but NetworkManager is now in the build and is the default.

The reason for this change is that some testers have reported issues with UltraSNS, wired and wireless. Wired works beautifully for me, but last night was experimenting with wireless and it was misbehaving.

The 'wsupp' daemon in minibase network utilities, used for UltraSNS, sometimes hangs while scanning. This was reported to the developer, and I notice some recent commits that might address this problem.

UltraSNS was the default in Easy 1.0.8 up to 1.0.13. NetworkManager was in 1.0.

NetworkManager works well, and if you click on the "connect" icon you get a GUI, named "nmtui". The only slight downside to this GUI is that it is a text-mode UI, requiring keyboard navigation.

I will continue to investigate minibase-network utilities, but for now, we will stay with NetworkManager.

Download from here:

http://distro.ibiblio.org/easyos/amd64/releases/pyro/1.0.14/

There was a question on the forum about what if the PC that you would like to install to, it's internal drive that is, already has an ESP, that is used by one or more Linux distributions -- can that be also used by the Easy installation, rather than creating another ESP partition?

Short answer: yes, it can be shared, with qualifications.

I will do such an install very soon and document it. 

Regarding 1.0.13, if you have already installed it to internal drive, that's very good, as you can then try out the simple version upgrading, as described here:

https://easyos.org/user/easy-version-upgrade-and-downgrade.html

Have fun! 

Tags: easy

EasyOS version 1.0.13 released

March 14, 2019 — BarryK

Version 1.0.11 was released on March 8:

http://bkhome.org/news/201903/easyos-x8664-version-1011-released.html

...please read this link for release notes and install instructions.

Since then, there has been simplification and bug-fixing inside the initrd. Thanks to the guys on the forums who helped me discover bugs and various little issues.

Download from here:

http://distro.ibiblio.org/easyos/amd64/releases/pyro/1.0.13/

Version 1.0.13 has Xorg GUIs in the initrd for choosing locale/keyboard-layout and entering password, however, for the English build have disabled these, back on the non-GUI entry as per earlier releases.

The Xorg GUIs are still there though, and can be turned on. They will be enabled by default for the non-English builds.

So far, have only uploaded the English build, plan to do the international builds tomorrow. 

Tags: easy

Review at DistroWatch.com

March 14, 2019 — BarryK

There is a quite positive review by Jesse at Distrowatch:

https://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20190311#easyos

There are two guys who run DistroWatch, Ladislav and Jesse.

For newcomers, I would like to request, would you mind waiting for the next release? Due out in a couple of days, it will likely be version 1.0.13.

I have fixed a few things, especially if you want to do an install to internal hard drive. If you look at recent blog posts, you will see that the installation tutorials have been revised, in anticipation of the next release. 

Tags: easy