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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 2:58 am 
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Hi there.

I am a moderately experienced user of Debian on architectures ia32, amd64, and powerpc (on both NewWorld and OldWorld subarches).

I just got (as a gift) a standard Kuro-Box and I'm just learning things about this sub-arch of powerpc.

I received my Kuro with an HD containing a stock installation and I promptly erased the HD, put a virgin base install of Debian's stable (I unpacked and resolved manually the dependencies of the packages) and took care of debianizing the modules of the 2.4.17 kernel, since my intention is to have everything under control on any machines.

My plan is to have everything available on the upstream Debian project, compile my own kernels (and help integrate support for the kernel of the Kuros on the distribution), and make installation from scratch of a pure Debian system something easy, with Free Software only.

I have started doing this by creating my install (which is minimal enough, but in a way that can substitute the outdated images that are linked to on the wiki---is there interest to put a newer image than Sylver's on some site?).

One thing in particular that I made was to create a Debian package for avr_evtd (sources are available upon request) and I intend to get it uploaded to the main archive quite soon (despite the imminent release of lenny). In the process, I ended up fixing some typos of the manpage, removing sections that were irrelevant and some other stuff to get the package in good shape.

BTW, I have some questions due to the whole lot of information that I read and I would appreciate if anybody could help. Since I want to have a newer kernel on my machine, I guess that I would need to flash the firmware, right?

According to http://buffalo.nas-central.org/index.ph ... .6_kernels, I need to use a recent uBoot. Is the one listed in http://buffalo.nas-central.org/download ... 2.0-r2.bin recent enough?

Also, is there any need to flash http://downloads.nas-central.org/ALL_LS ... irmimg.bin to be able to use EM-mode (should problems arise)? Is it able to work on the Kuro with DHCP? Unfortunately, http://buffalo.nas-central.org/index.ph ... mg.bin_ppc doesn't mention this.

Once I get a recent kernel running on my machine (to run Debian's lenny), I plan to get both a suitable uboot and a firmimg.bin packaged (and built from sources, feeding upstream whatever sources are needed).

Thanks for your help and I hope that I can also help things get in shape to be accepted in Debian.


Regards, Rogério Brito.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 5:31 am 
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Curiousmark is currently writing an article that addresses alot of these issues. You could add to it.

http://buffalo.nas-central.org/index.ph ... on_Kurobox

also even though it is not being maintained, for some time there have been current 2.6.2x kernels and modules for the PPC kuroboxes maintained by Andre, that worked without uboot (and added support for uboot later)

http://hvkls.dyndns.org/downloads/docum ... ernel.html

IIRC there was some talk about adding avr_evtd to debian, I don't know where that stands. You may wish to PM lb_worm about that.

_________________
-Ramuk

LinkStation HG *250 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Freelink
Kuro HG *750 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Debian Squeeze
Kuro HD *60 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Debian Squeeze (For Sale)
KuroPro *2TB Debian Lenny Armel- Kernel 2.6.26
KuroPro *1TB Debian Lenny Armel- Kernel 2.6.25.6


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 12:15 pm 
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ramuk wrote:
Curiousmark is currently writing an article that addresses alot of these issues. You could add to it.

http://buffalo.nas-central.org/index.ph ... on_Kurobox

Thanks. My first contact with CuriousMark was via e-mail, when he told me that he was writing a summary of his experiences on the Kurobox. I wrote him a reply, but it seems that he was not able to respond up to now.

There is, though, one point that that document leaves without an answer. It is if installing the Freelink tarball (tmpimage-FL-1-21-LS1.tgz) is necessary or not, since I already have a pristine Debian install here and would like to keep the system as "pure" and "faithful" to the Debian distribution (to which I am applying to be a developer) as possible.

The only thing that is not exactly "pure" here is that I am booting both the original 2.4.17_kuro-box kernel and my own (cross-)compiled 2.6.15 kernel, with a patch that I found on the wiki (loaded currently with the loader.o trick---not uloader.o). I want to get rid of that situation.

ramuk wrote:
also even though it is not being maintained, for some time there have been current 2.6.2x kernels and modules for the PPC kuroboxes maintained by Andre, that worked without uboot (and added support for uboot later)

http://hvkls.dyndns.org/downloads/docum ... ernel.html

Yes, I know about his kernels. Actually, my main desire is to run a vanilla (from kernel.org), recent 2.6 kernel (keeping up with the -rc* versions even), use the standard Debian make-kpkg to generate my kernel packages to have everything under control of dpkg and incorporate what I learn into Debian, so that we can offer another flavour of the powerpc kernel for the Kuro-Box (and similar boxes).

To achieve my goal, it seems (please, correct me if I am wrong) that both the precompiled uBoot and the 2.4.33 firmimg.bin are necessary. Is that right? Also, are these updates independent of each other?

ramuk wrote:
IIRC there was some talk about adding avr_evtd to debian, I don't know where that stands. You may wish to PM lb_worm about that.

The current tarball could be improved in many ways (and I already have some fixes as a side-effect of my debianization).

Anyway, I already have a working avr_evtd package that only needs minor tweaks so that I can upload it to Debian.

I welcome any comments that you or other members might have.


Thanks, Rogério Brito.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 12:43 pm 
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The UBoot (precompiled) and firmimg.bin 2.4.33.3 were, at time of release, the absolute best things we had available to put in flash... in terms of a modern flexible, controllable (via netconsole) bootloader, and a full-featured EM mode image that provided telnet and ftp access for either fixing things when they went wrong, or installing a new distro to the hdd but ftp-ing it in, setting up partitions, etc.

If you are going to install these, first flash in UBoot, and then after that, the firmimg.bin. You can actually flash things using UBoot.

UBoot is still the best (only?) choice for a non-stock bootloader on PPC boxes, but in terms of an in-flash EM initrd/initramfs image, there is also foonas-em, which has a few more capabilities and support for filesystems like jfs and reiser.

_________________
LS1 (foonas, nfs, Tranmission & p910nd print server, Firefly for my Roku)
LS-HG500 (Lenny)
Various LS-Pros v1,v2 (unbricked w/ serial & jtag)
KuroPro, LS2 & KuroHG (foonas)
Working on davysweather.dyndns.org lately...

=> wooohooo!
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 1:34 pm 
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davy_gravy wrote:
The UBoot (precompiled) and firmimg.bin 2.4.33.3 were, at time of release, the absolute best things we had available to put in flash... in terms of a modern flexible, controllable (via netconsole) bootloader, and a full-featured EM mode image that provided telnet and ftp access for either fixing things when they went wrong, or installing a new distro to the hdd but ftp-ing it in, setting up partitions, etc.

One question is still on my mind: are they independent of each other? Do I have to install both?
Quote:
UBoot is still the best (only?) choice for a non-stock bootloader on PPC boxes, but in terms of an in-flash EM initrd/initramfs image, there is also foonas-em, which has a few more capabilities and support for filesystems like jfs and reiser.

Thanks for letting me know, but I have one question: Is the precompiled uBoot compatible with recent 2.6 kernels? I read the page http://buffalo.nas-central.org/index.ph ... .6_kernels and it mentions that a recent uBoot is needed.

Let me state here and be clear that my main objective is (only) to be able to use a custom compiled 2.6 kernel and be free to use a stock Debian system, but I obviously have to keep the prerequisites of this in mind (if they actually *are* prerequisites).

I plan on keeping my system as "pure" as possible to the standard Debian distributions (I usually run unstable for development, since I already have some packages on the main distribution: http://qa.debian.org/developer.php?logi ... ime.usp.br) and I am willing to get support for the KuroBox in the distribution, but first I have to know how to generate my own kernels.

Thanks, Rogério Brito.

P.S.: Latter steps would be to learn how to generate a compatible uBoot and put it into the distribution, together with the creation of the initrd/initramfs.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 6:05 pm 
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rbrito wrote:
One question is still on my mind: are they independent of each other? Do I have to install both?


Thanks for letting me know, but I have one question: Is the precompiled uBoot compatible with recent 2.6 kernels? I read the page http://buffalo.nas-central.org/index.ph ... .6_kernels and it mentions that a recent uBoot is needed.



No, after you install uboot as the bootloader you can use whatever distro you want (so long as you have a kernel uImage that works) . There are a few "EM" distributions that you may want to install into whatever flash you would have remaining. The firmimg.bin 2.4.33.3 is one. Foonas-em is another. You would not even have to do this if you didn't want to. The uboot netconsole (or serial console that I prefer) would be enough to get you out of trouble given that you could tftp in a "EM" operating system that you can use for recovery, or you could assemble a root FS on the hard drive on an external machine.

Theoretically, (and there has been some talk of this especially for the ARM architecture) you could package the kernel uImage, modules, and even sources up in a debian package that would automate installation in a predictable way. I think (unfortunately) interest in doing this for the PPC architecture has waned somewhat.

Any of these precompiled uBoots will work with even the most recent kernels. However, as I found out you would need 1.2+ to work with foonas-em.

_________________
-Ramuk

LinkStation HG *250 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Freelink
Kuro HG *750 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Debian Squeeze
Kuro HD *60 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Debian Squeeze (For Sale)
KuroPro *2TB Debian Lenny Armel- Kernel 2.6.26
KuroPro *1TB Debian Lenny Armel- Kernel 2.6.25.6


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 7:00 pm 
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ramuk wrote:
No, after you install uboot as the bootloader you can use whatever distro you want (so long as you have a kernel uImage that works) .

Right. But I don't know if the precompiled image that is available on the link that I listed earlier is compatible with newer kernels, as the page that I listed warned (and it left me worried). Thanks for clarifying this on the last paragraph below.

Having the freedom to use a newer glibc (and newer programs) is a wonderful thing. And for that I need some newer kernel features.

ramuk wrote:
There are a few "EM" distributions that you may want to install into whatever flash you would have remaining. The firmimg.bin 2.4.33.3 is one. Foonas-em is another. You would not even have to do this if you didn't want to.

So, this means that those Emergency Mode distributions are not strictly required, right?

ramuk wrote:
The uboot netconsole (or serial console that I prefer) would be enough to get you out of trouble given that you could tftp in a "EM" operating system that you can use for recovery, or you could assemble a root FS on the hard drive on an external machine.

From what I could understand, to use a serial console I would need a hardware modification and I can't afford that right now. OTOH, I have already used the method of unpacking a root FS on an external machine.

ramuk wrote:
Theoretically, (and there has been some talk of this especially for the ARM architecture) you could package the kernel uImage, modules, and even sources up in a debian package that would automate installation in a predictable way. I think (unfortunately) interest in doing this for the PPC architecture has waned somewhat.

I have already mailed Manoj Srivasta, the maintainer of kernel-package, regarding the possibility of including this extra feature. I am very motivated to make the PowerPC port of Debian be strong.

(Well, Debian even releases a distribution for m68k, which is getting rarer to machines.)

ramuk wrote:
Any of these precompiled uBoots will work with even the most recent kernels. However, as I found out you would need 1.2+ to work with foonas-em.

So, the option would be to use the 2.4.33.3 firmimg.bin (if necessary), right? And is it necessary?

Now, I would like to thank you very much for your very informative post.


Thanks, Rogério Brito.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 9:16 pm 
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rbrito wrote:
So, this means that those Emergency Mode distributions are not strictly required, right?


To be honest on one of my KuroPros I had destroyed the EM mode distro (through my own idiocy) for a long time. I just used the serial console/uboot console to do recovery. The same would apply for uboot with a PPC linkstation/kuro

rbrito wrote:
From what I could understand, to use a serial console I would need a hardware modification and I can't afford that right now. OTOH, I have already used the method of unpacking a root FS on an external machine.


The hardware mod is pretty easy, well kind of easy.
http://buffalo.nas-central.org/index.ph ... erial_Port
http://buffalo.nas-central.org/index.php/Serial_port

It would cost you between 10-20USD depending on whether you wanted an RS232 port or USB at the other end (If you had an old USB cell phone cable to cannibalize it would be free) BUT many people around here prefer using netconsole (I am one of the few who do not)

rbrito wrote:
I have already mailed Manoj Srivasta, the maintainer of kernel-package, regarding the possibility of including this extra feature. I am very motivated to make the PowerPC port of Debian be strong.


Part of the problem is that people would need to uboot thier PPC linkstation/kuro first, which is alot to ask from a newb type end user. Hell, I had alot of reservations and still don't have a "production" PPC machine I use that is Ubooted. Also whether or not there would need to be different kernels or not for HG vs HD (probably not)

rbrito wrote:
So, the option would be to use the 2.4.33.3 firmimg.bin (if necessary), right? And is it necessary?


Looking at your level of ability, professor :p . It should be easy for you to makeup a recent uboot (this was beyond my personal abilities) but I know there are precompiled 1.2 versions floating around as well (I think you referenced one in your original post). That way you could use the 2.4.33.3 firmimg.bin or Foonas-EM if you were so inclined to have an EM distribution installed somewhere.

rbrito wrote:
Now, I would like to thank you very much for your very informative post.

No Problem :geek:

_________________
-Ramuk

LinkStation HG *250 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Freelink
Kuro HG *750 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Debian Squeeze
Kuro HD *60 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Debian Squeeze (For Sale)
KuroPro *2TB Debian Lenny Armel- Kernel 2.6.26
KuroPro *1TB Debian Lenny Armel- Kernel 2.6.25.6


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:16 pm 
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ramuk wrote:
rbrito wrote:
So, this means that those Emergency Mode distributions are not strictly required, right?


To be honest on one of my KuroPros I had destroyed the EM mode distro (through my own idiocy) for a long time. I just used the serial console/uboot console to do recovery. The same would apply for uboot with a PPC linkstation/kuro


Hummm, I see. So, if it is harmless to use those Emergency Mode distributions (I'm still making up my mind), I may just do that.

ramuk wrote:
rbrito wrote:
I have already mailed Manoj Srivasta, the maintainer of kernel-package, regarding the possibility of including this extra feature. I am very motivated to make the PowerPC port of Debian be strong.


Part of the problem is that people would need to uboot thier PPC linkstation/kuro first, which is alot to ask from a newb type end user. Hell, I had alot of reservations and still don't have a "production" PPC machine I use that is Ubooted. Also whether or not there would need to be different kernels or not for HG vs HD (probably not)


Yes, I know. But providing simple instructions and precompiled binaries, they would be more motivated. Like, for instance, CuriousMark noted in his post, he was daunted by the task and procrastinated for a long time, since there were only instructions of the type "do-it-yourself", from the sources (and patching). If this whole knowledge could be put in a systematic way (by scripts for building packages, done by developers), more people would try it. And not only the Kuros, but the other platforms as well.

I'm all for getting binaries first, have a working system and then teach the user the details, if he is so inclined. This is, BTW, the route that I want to go. First, get the binaries, then, get a system recent enough working. Then, study the sources, see which patches have been integrated upstream and automatize the things. And get them included into Debian. :)

In fact, this way of progressing is what got Ubuntu to be as popular as it is. And with it, more people were introduced to some Unix utilities and, more importantly, the way of thinking...

ramuk wrote:
rbrito wrote:
So, the option would be to use the 2.4.33.3 firmimg.bin (if necessary), right? And is it necessary?


Looking at your level of ability, professor :p .

How did you discover that? :) Did I send any link which revealed that? Did you search on Google? :) Anyway, I am mostly a Theoretical Computer Scientist/Mathematician. Not a hacker "per se". This explains my slow "modus operandi". :) I want to be sure that I'm progressing with firm steps.

ramuk wrote:
It should be easy for you to makeup a recent uboot (this was beyond my personal abilities) but I know there are precompiled 1.2 versions floating around as well (I think you referenced one in your original post). That way you could use the 2.4.33.3 firmimg.bin or Foonas-EM if you were so inclined to have an EM distribution installed somewhere.


I first want to use the binaries. Then, I plan on writing up a paper (meant, perhaps, for a presentation on the next Debconf in Extremadura) describing all the steps, the background on this flavor of the architecture, differing aspects related to ia32 etc. I guess that it will be a long write up, in a manual fashion, first describing the quick way of getting things done and, then, detailing how everything was put together.


Thanks, Rogério Brito.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:37 am 
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rbrito wrote:
I first want to use the binaries. Then, I plan on writing up a paper (meant, perhaps, for a presentation on the next Debconf in Extremadura) describing all the steps, the background on this flavor of the architecture, differing aspects related to ia32 etc. I guess that it will be a long write up, in a manual fashion, first describing the quick way of getting things done and, then, detailing how everything was put together.


If you do this, please be so kind as to make a wiki article out of such a document. :up:

_________________
-Ramuk

LinkStation HG *250 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Freelink
Kuro HG *750 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Debian Squeeze
Kuro HD *60 Uboot - Foonas-EM - Debian Squeeze (For Sale)
KuroPro *2TB Debian Lenny Armel- Kernel 2.6.26
KuroPro *1TB Debian Lenny Armel- Kernel 2.6.25.6


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 4:33 am 
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rbrito wrote:
ramuk wrote:
Curiousmark is currently writing an article that addresses alot of these issues. You could add to it.

http://buffalo.nas-central.org/index.ph ... on_Kurobox

Thanks. My first contact with CuriousMark was via e-mail, when he told me that he was writing a summary of his experiences on the Kurobox. I wrote him a reply, but it seems that he was not able to respond up to now.


It was my attempt to reach you, (unsuccessfully from my perspective), that got me off my hind-end and got me to move that unfinished article from my user page out where it could be seen. Nothing would make me happier than to have it reviewed and updated by someone who knows their way around Debian. Please feel free to make any changes you would like.

rbrito wrote:
There is, though, one point that that document leaves without an answer. It is if installing the Freelink tarball (tmpimage-FL-1-21-LS1.tgz) is necessary or not, since I already have a pristine Debian install here and would like to keep the system as "pure" and "faithful" to the Debian distribution (to which I am applying to be a developer) as possible.

That tarball has been running successfully on my Kurobox for many months now with a 2.6 kernel. It has served my family's file sharing and backup needs beautifully, but I have made little to no progress on doing further things than that, primarily because I don't know my way around Linux.

rbrito wrote:
The only thing that is not exactly "pure" here is that I am booting both the original 2.4.17_kuro-box kernel and my own (cross-)compiled 2.6.15 kernel, with a patch that I found on the wiki (loaded currently with the loader.o trick---not uloader.o). I want to get rid of that situation.

What I did does get rid of that trick. My Kurobox boots directly into Andre's 2.6 kernel, no loader.o trick is involved. I thank uboot for that.

ramuk wrote:
also even though it is not being maintained, for some time there have been current 2.6.2x kernels and modules for the PPC kuroboxes maintained by Andre, that worked without uboot (and added support for uboot later)
http://hvkls.dyndns.org/downloads/docum ... ernel.html


This is what I used and it worked quite well. I used the uboot version. I did have to play around a bit and that is the weakest part of the how-to.

rbrito wrote:
Yes, I know about his kernels. Actually, my main desire is to run a vanilla (from kernel.org), recent 2.6 kernel (keeping up with the -rc* versions even), use the standard Debian make-kpkg to generate my kernel packages to have everything under control of dpkg and incorporate what I learn into Debian, so that we can offer another flavour of the powerpc kernel for the Kuro-Box (and similar boxes).

That would be cool, I am willing to be test subject if you need one.

Quote:
To achieve my goal, it seems (please, correct me if I am wrong) that both the precompiled uBoot and the 2.4.33 firmimg.bin are necessary. Is that right? Also, are these updates independent of each other?

They are somewhat independent. The uboot is just the bootloader and does not have to have the firmimg.bin. The firmimg.bin is a flash based kernel and virtual disk environment, that provides EM mode operation. It doesn't have to be 2.4 based, it doesn't even have to replace the stock EM mode. What it does provide is a simple step on the path to getting a fully functioning Freelink install and a dependable EM mode to fall back on. It also has some useful tools the stock firmimg.bin is missing. Since it is a flash image that runs off of a virtual hard drive, I think mostly it needs to be small.

rbrito wrote:
The current tarball could be improved in many ways (and I already have some fixes as a side-effect of my debianization).

Anyway, I already have a working avr_evtd package that only needs minor tweaks so that I can upload it to Debian.

I welcome any comments that you or other members might have.

Let me know if I can help.

CuriousMark

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:31 pm 
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ramuk wrote:
If you do this, please be so kind as to make a wiki article out of such a document. :up:


Thanks for the encouragement. I am already running a "pure" Debian testing (etch) on my Kurobox, with all the latest sofware and I'm happy with it (and with popularity-contest installed, so that another PowerPC machine is counted).

I will document what I did and how to get things working. I already have proposed some changes to the way that an uboot kernel is compiled under Ubuntu/Debian, since it should be an easier task than what is described:

  • Under Debian, there's no need to compile dtc (the device tree compiler), as there is already a package for that purpose (device-tree-compiler). This means that using git to grab the sources, getting flex (a lexical analyser) and bison (a parser generator) to compile the dts (device tree sources) is not necessary.
  • Also, for compiling the uboot kernel, there is no need to download an unpackaged mkimage, as we already have uboot-mkimage available, which makes things even easier. This means less cruft installed into /usr/local (which should be avoided as much as possible).
  • Another thing is that I have already packaged avr_evtd and this, again, makes things easier.

I think that, with this, the user will have to build as few things as possible (and that is the purpose of having everything sent upstream).


Hope this helps, Rogério Brito.

P.S.: I have some problems with the precompiled uboot image that I am using, but I will ask about that in another post.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 3:32 pm 
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rbrito wrote:
  • Another thing is that I have already packaged avr_evtd and this, again, makes things easier.


I have uploaded a Debian (source) package to show that I wasn't talking vapourware :) on my homepage: http://www.ime.usp.br/~rbrito/debian/

Hope this helps, Rogério Brito.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:36 pm 
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rbrito wrote:
I have uploaded a Debian (source) package to show that I wasn't talking vapourware :) on my homepage: http://www.ime.usp.br/~rbrito/debian/

I have uploaded the source to another place as well to http://mentors.debian.net/debian/pool/main/a/avr-evtd

Hope this helps, Rogério Brito.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 5:04 pm 
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hi rbrito, thank you for your efforts and for documenting what you have done...

I was wondering about 2 things here...
- Did you try to get in touch w/ lb_worm, the author of avr_evtd? I think that would be a really good thing to do.

- Your avr-evtd_1.7.2-1_amd64.deb for avr-evtd looks (at first glance) to be of amd64 architecture. Is this really the right link? here http://www.ime.usp.br/~rbrito/debian/

Again, thanks for the contribution to the community.

_________________
LS1 (foonas, nfs, Tranmission & p910nd print server, Firefly for my Roku)
LS-HG500 (Lenny)
Various LS-Pros v1,v2 (unbricked w/ serial & jtag)
KuroPro, LS2 & KuroHG (foonas)
Working on davysweather.dyndns.org lately...

=> wooohooo!
wooohooo!
Unknown command 'wooohooo!' - try 'help'


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