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rEFind UEFI boot manager

October 07, 2017 — BarryK

Easy OS is provided as a image file, that can be written to a USB-stick and then booted. It's contents can also be installed to an internal hard drive.

The image file has the Syslinux boot manager, and will boot on older computers with BIOS firmware, as well as newer computers with UEFI-BIOS firmware.

The problem I have with Syslinux though, is that development is hardly happening anymore. It is very good for BIOS-firmware, but barely-passable for UEFI-firmware. For UEFI, it cannot be used to dual-boot Linux and Windows -- which is a shame, and has made me increasingly desperate to find something else.

In the Easy image file, the BIOS-booting part of Syslinux is in the root of the boot-partition, and the UEFI-booting part is in path /EFI/BOOT. They are completely separate, hence I could replace the UEFI-part with some other boot manager.

That other boot manager could be rEFind. I have been testing it, very nice. First time that I ever played with it, most impressed. rEFind is maintained by Roderick Smith, and the home page is here:

WoofQ, my port of Woof the Puppy-builder, builds the Quirky-series of Linux, of which Easy OS is the latest incarnation. It has a skeleton-image file, with the aforementioned Syslinux already in it, and woofQ adds all the Quirky/Easy files, to create a bootable distro.

What I am thinking of doing, is modify that image file, to have rEFind in it, for the UEFI-booting, leave Syslinux for the BIOS-booting. rEFInd can automatically scan for other OSs, such as Windows, however, might leave that disabled initially, so the image file will just be for booting the drive that the image-file is written to.

Scanning and the boot-menu is controlled by a file named refind.conf, and I can explain how this can be modified to enable detection of other OSs. It is very simple to do.

This is great stuff, I am looking forward to bringing out Easy 0.6!

Tags: easy

EasyDD, frontend for dd

October 04, 2017 — BarryK

I was a busy beaver last night and today, have written EasyDD.

EasyDD is a GUI frontend to the 'dd' uility. It also works from the commandline.

Over the last few months, I have observed on the Puppy Forum, some people making mistakes with 'dd'.

Also, I am wanting to simplify the instructions for writing of the downloaded EasyOS image file to a USB-stick. With EasyDD, this can now be done in a terminal, for example:

# easydd easy-0.5-amd64.img.gz sdb    

To see cli instructons:

# easydd --help    

Or, to get the full GUI, which will ask for source and destination:

# easydd    

The good thing is, it does a lot of sanity checking, making it much harder to go wrong.

EasyDD will be in the next release of EasyOS, with a menu entry, in "Setup" category.

However, you can play with it now. Download from here:

Note, this first version only does one thing, write an image file to a drive. The image file can be compressed or not.

Of course, considering the power off 'dd', use it at your own risk. I have been using it, and it seems OK, but I still need to put in this disclaimer.

Tags: easy

Easy OS version 0.5 released

October 02, 2017 — BarryK

Version 0.4 was released about one month ago, see announcement:

0.5 is still classified as pre-alpha, though considerable improvement.

Download from here:

Documentation on Easy is here:

Forum feedback here:

Feedback welcome!

Tags: easy

How to install Easy on the internal hard drive

September 26, 2017 — BarryK

I have written a tutorial that explains how to install Easy and dual-boot with Windows, for a modern computer with UEFI firmware:

If you would like to try this, I recommend to wait until the next release of Easy, which will be version 0.5. The reason is, many bugs have been found in version 0.4, and I am working through, fixing them. It might be a few more days before 0.5 arrives.

Tags: easy

session.sfs removed

September 24, 2017 — BarryK

In the "How Easy works" tutorials, I described a file named session.sfs. This file exists up to and including Easy 0.4.

However, the advantages of that file are rather nebulous, and it also complicates the how-it-works tutorials. So, have simplified things, Easy no longer has session.sfs, and the tutorials have been modified:

Hopefully, the tutorials have become a bit easier to understand.

Tags: easy

Run-as-spot script fixed

September 21, 2017 — BarryK

Puppy Forum member belham2 discovered a broken symlink when (try) to run SeaMonkey as user "spot":

I wondered whether this is fixed in woof-CE, and yes it is, as they don't even have that symlink-creation line anymore:

It has been awhile since I looked at that run-as-spot code, had to think how it works. In woof-CE, support/setup-spot gets copied by 3builddistro to /usr/sbin when Puppy is being built. Ditto for woofQ.

I have fixed that symlink in woofQ.

Tags: easy

PupApps, Pup-Sysinfo, YASSM updated

September 21, 2017 — BarryK

I have updated these PETs, for the next build of Easy.

PupApps 3.0 (radky)

Pup-Sysinfo 2.7.3 (radky)

YASSM 4.1 (rcrsn51)

Getting stuck into Easy development again. There is a backlog of bug reports on the Puppy Forum, will be studying those very soon:

Tags: easy

Checks when SFS layers change

September 20, 2017 — BarryK

Puppy Linux does a lot of checking when the SFS layers change, in the init script in the initramfs and after switch_root in /etc/rc.d/rc.update. Easy 0.4 and earlier does no checks, just uses the layers as-is.

The code in Puppy is complex, and I do want some checks in Easy, but simpler. I have created /sbin/fixlayers in the initramfs, that gets called if a change in SFS layers is detected, or a version upgrade. Have tried to keep this code to just the essentials, such as ensuring the Easy boot scripts in /etc/rc.d are visible at the top of the layers.

After switch_root, I have put some checks into /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit. For example, rerunning depmod and rebuilding the JWM menu.

Puppy does a lot of checking of the JWM PuppyPin and globicons files, however, I have left that out. It will be up to any SFS files inserted in a layer, not to mess up those files. Though, that one might need more thought.

Script /sbin/fixlayers now merges PuppyPin and globicons from the SFS layers, producing a sane desktop that keeps user customization.

Tags: easy