Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another home gadget

It has ...
cassis ~ # uname -a
Linux cassis 2.6.36-gentoo #1 Sat Oct 30 01:34:28 CEST 2010 armv5tel Feroceon 88FR131 rev 1 (v5l) Marvell OpenRD Ultimate Board GNU/Linux
... taken me some time to realize that I need an "always on" home server. Not really for big amounts of data or lots of computing power, but for the small conveniences - as printing easily from my laptop to my usb printer, or staying always online on freenode with a quasselcore. The first is something most DSL routers can do today, the second they usually can't. And besides, where is the fun with a prepackaged solution? Requirements: runs Gentoo, is absolutely silent, low power consumption, some hard disk space, USB ports.
At first I tried a GuruPlug, but what I did not realize until it was on my desk: it's fan makes quite some noise, and there's unfortunately no soundproof server rack in my flat. So, now I have settled for a (fanless) OpenRD Ultimate board, and I can say it really lives up to my expectations so far. For those who know Raúl's SheevaPlug installation instructions, the process can here be done roughly the same way, with two small caveats:
  • Raúl's kernel does not work, we need at least 2.6.35 (I'll place a binary online... see below)
  • The console kernel parameter needs to be console=ttyS0,115200n8
Otherwise, the preinstalled bootloader provides many more additional options to get the required files into memory than the one of the SheevaPlug or the GuruPlug. You dont have to hassle with network and tftp, but can just load kernel and initramfs from an (ext2 or fat-formatted) USB storage device, MicroSD card, or even eSATA disc...
Finally (but that applies to both devices of course, they are binary compatible), what I find really astonishing is how many Gentoo packages "just work" on these arm gadgets, even if they dont have the ~arm keyword (yet). This is really the power of a source-based distribution. Cheers!

UPDATE: Try the kernel image from here (together with Raúl's initrd) and tell me if it works! Untested so far...


  1. what did it run you cost-wise? Looks like something fun to play around with..

  2. I ordered it from www.newit.co.uk for £198.00... yes that's slightly more than a sheevaplug :(, but it does have a lot more features.