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Last active June 10, 2018 04:51
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Setup: Soekris's Ubuntu

Installing Ubuntu onto Soekris net6501

(Timothy's default Ubuntu configuration from Mac OS X)

Image USB flash drive

  • Download "alternative" network intaller image:
  • Find disk name for SD card and prepare device:
    diskutil list
    sudo diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN    # Otherwise dd complains busy resource
  • Image flash driver: pv mini.iso | sudo dd of=/dev/rdiskN bs=10000000 ; sync # rdisk is faster, ~10M=good

Connect via serial console

  • Plug in your Serial to USB device
  • Connect via screen screen /dev/tty.usbconsole 19200
  • Turn on Soekris, you should see BIOS loading
  • In several seconds half of the screen would clear itself with garbled text in the first column
  • Press Esc twice to get to the boot prompt
  • Type (slowly) install console=ttyS0,19200n8 vga=none

Troubleshooting serial console

What can go wrong? A lot of things.

  • Only network-based mini.iso works well as it does not rely on video output much

  • Do diff and check which tty appears after connection

  • If no symbols appear or only à, ? or | appears try other speeds: 9600, 19200, 38400, 57600, 115200

  • Press Ctrl-P right after box starting to get into BIOS prompt, check that system parameter values are sane

  • Don't forget to reset speed to 19200, which is supported by Ubuntu

    > set ConSpeed=19200
    > set ConLock=Enabled
    > set ConMute=Disabled
    > reboot
  • Garbled text due to alternate character set: Ctrl-A Shift-Z Ctrl-L will reset it back

  • Do not use LVM it breaks GRUB/LILO


  • It's ok to reformat USB flash drive, everything is in memory
  • It's ok to install basic Ubuntu server
  • If it seems stuck, press any key
  • Expect it to take hours

Initial configuration

  • Restart, login via serial:
    echo "$USER ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL" | sudo tee -a /etc/sudoers
    sudo apt-get install openssh-server byobu htop mosh zsh-syntax-highlighting
    echo 'GRUB_RECORDFAIL_TIMEOUT=$GRUB_TIMEOUT' | sudo tee --append /etc/default/grub
    sudo update-grub
  • In a local terminal: ssh-copy-id soekris ; mosh soekris
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