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Linux - Embedded & Single-board computer This forum is for the discussion of Linux on both embedded devices and single-board computers (such as the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBoard and PandaBoard). Discussions involving Arduino, plug computers and other micro-controller like devices are also welcome.

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Old 07-11-2014, 12:12 PM   #1
edbarx
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Which Minimal distro to use to boot an embedded system?


Still Open for suggestions. The answer of suicidal*** is all hearsay as no justification for his replies was given. Fatalistic opinions don't help.

Since my earliest days of using GNU/Linux I have never wandered off Debian. However, this time, I am being faced by a situation necessitating me to look around for all options.

I need to boot an embedded system from a USB stick, however, I have no idea which live distro I should download. I learnt about Damn-Small-Linux and I am asking for your suggestions and comments.

The embedded system is a DVR (digital video recorder for CCTV).

Last edited by edbarx; 07-11-2014 at 05:08 PM.
 
Old 07-11-2014, 12:20 PM   #2
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You can't just plug in any old live distro into an embedded device and expect it to work. Embedded devices don't use a bios like regular computers do, and 99.999999% of the time it's not going to use an intel/amd x86 type processor that ALL live distros are compiled for. It's probably going to run an arm processor, and assuming it's even using a boot loader, I highly doubt it's configured to look at the USB port for an available bootable device. And even if it did, you would need to know at exactly which byte offset you need to place your kernel and filesystem, AND your kernel would need to be compiled for the exact arm chip being used in the device.

Long story short, it's not going to happen, unless you contact the manufacturer of the DVR and get some information about how to load your own OS using their bootloader (doubtful you'll even receive a response, but if you do, it's going to be "no"), or do a LOT of your own legwork.

Of course I could be wrong, and it could be running an x86 chip like an Intel Atom with a standard BIOS, in which case you might be able to get by with something like Mint. I really doubt it though.

Last edited by suicidaleggroll; 07-11-2014 at 12:26 PM.
 
Old 07-11-2014, 12:41 PM   #3
edbarx
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Having an architecture different than Intel's is nothing special and wouldn't make booting a USB stick impossible by itself.

I am asking because I have already noticed that the system doesn't boot with a USB stick plugged in: it just hangs on forever. This behaviour may indicate that whenever there is a USB stick the system tries to boot it. Other than that, there is no reason why a plugged USB stick should fail the system from booting. As rigards to asking the manufacturer for details how to change their firmware, I tell you, you must be joking. You know, they will never do such a thing, so why do you suggest it?

I will plug in a USB keyboard and see whether it is recognized. If yes, I will try to find out what architecture the DVR is made of.

Last edited by edbarx; 07-11-2014 at 12:56 PM.
 
Old 07-11-2014, 01:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
Having an architecture different than Intel's is nothing special
It is, actually

Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
and wouldn't make booting a USB stick impossible by itself.
I never said it would, I said it would prevent you from using any off the shelf live ISOs like your original post is asking about. It means you would need to download all of the source for a distro and then build it (kernel, supporting programs, everything) for that specific architecture using a cross-compiler on another system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
I am asking because I have already noticed that the system doesn't boot with a USB stick plugged in: it just hangs on forever. This behaviour may indicate that whenever there is a USB stick the system tries to boot it. Other than that, there is no reason why a plugged USB stick should fail the system from booting.
It's entirely likely that the system is not designed to boot from USB, instead the USB could be used for firmware updates, and it's hung looking for the firmware update file it expects to see on the USB drive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
As rigards to asking the manufacturer for details how to change their firmware, I tell you, you must be joking. You know, they will never do such a thing, so why do you suggest it?
Because without that information, you're pretty much a sitting duck, but I wish you the best of luck...
 
Old 07-11-2014, 01:24 PM   #5
edbarx
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As it is, the DVR works but I will try to better manage its resources by tweaking it if that proves to be possible. If it proves as you indicated, it wouldn't be a death sentence for me. After all, it will still remain useable for its purpose.

Added Later:
Those who have practical suggestions, please make them. The first reply to my question was more like a killer implying there was no solution although I doubt the 'expertise' of someone who suggests Mint for a embedded system! Mint is GUI oriented and based on Ubuntu, the king of bloat.

Last edited by edbarx; 07-11-2014 at 04:55 PM.
 
Old 07-11-2014, 05:20 PM   #6
onebuck
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Moved: This thread is more suitable in < Linux - Embedded & Single-board computer > and has been moved accordingly to help your thread/question get the exposure it deserves.
 
Old 07-11-2014, 08:35 PM   #7
michaelk
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I disagree.

With knowing anything about your DVR hardware ( no mention of make/model ) it really is impossible to make any sort of suggestion. What resources are you trying to manage? As already stated unless you know it uses a x86 compatible single board computer no "regular" distribution will run nor simply boot from a USB drive.

The single board computer may not even boot to an operating system of sorts at all. I would assume any parameter that would be tweakable would in flash memory on the SBC and the hard drive is just used for video recording.

debian has been ported to many processors so if you could figure out how to boot from other then the on board flash memory and then how to mount it and then find what you want to tweak your there...
 
Old 07-12-2014, 12:44 AM   #8
edbarx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelk
With knowing anything about your DVR hardware ( no mention of make/model ) it really is impossible to make any sort of suggestion.
Sorry for that omission, it is my fault. Here are the specifications:
Code:
These are the details I can find on the DVR's carton in which it was packaged:
Brand: EONBOOM 
Model: EN-6704V

FCC CE RoHS
English PAL
SN:G1303219510

H.264 DVR
The user manual says it have an embedded Linux OS.

Is it possible to make it boot from a USB? Preferably, I would like to install a stripped down Debian on it, if that proves to be possible.

I have the impression that I have been bitten down straight to the bone with this!

Last edited by edbarx; 07-12-2014 at 01:27 AM.
 
Old 07-12-2014, 08:25 AM   #9
suicidaleggroll
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
Those who have practical suggestions, please make them. The first reply to my question was more like a killer implying there was no solution although I doubt the 'expertise' of someone who suggests Mint for a embedded system! Mint is GUI oriented and based on Ubuntu, the king of bloat.
The suggestion for Mint is because of its wide driver and peripheral support, something that is incredibly important when you're dealing with non-standard hardware. I had naturally assumed that you were trying to gain access to the system using an open OS so you could perform modifications/repair to the internal filesystem, in which case "bloat" is irrelevant provided it's capable of loading. Now it sounds like you're trying to "re-purpose" this DVR into some kind of general purpose Linux system?

Your best bet is to just open the thing up and see what's inside. Unless this is an x86 system that's just been thrown into a box (very rare for embedded systems), you're going to have a lot of hurdles to overcome.

Last edited by suicidaleggroll; 07-12-2014 at 08:32 AM.
 
Old 07-12-2014, 08:44 AM   #10
edbarx
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I tried to connect a keyboard to the DVR. The Caps Lock, Num Lock and Scroll Lock LEDs worked but I couldn't get to a terminal. I would like to get access to configuration files but it seems I am in for a failure. Sorry for being on the rude side, but I am frustrated for being misguided by the seller. Here, in this damn country, customers don't have rights although we have legislation. So, it is useless for me to make a complaint as I am sure the seller will slip out of it scotfree inciminating me in the process.

I tried a USB stick with armhf iso but the system didn't boot.

Regarding opening the box and looking inside, I too have that temptation. However, I will wait until I test the DVR with better cameras. If the resulting images are acceptable, I will probably stop there.
 
Old 07-12-2014, 09:00 AM   #11
michaelk
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Did not any real information abut the hardware except that it does run an embedded linux. And with out the proper knowledge and tools what you want to accomplish is not realistic
 
Old 07-12-2014, 10:16 AM   #12
edbarx
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Although, I am very pessimistic about contacting the manufacturer, I sent them an email asking them if they can direct me how to upgrade/change the OS for my model.
 
Old 07-18-2014, 08:39 AM   #13
business_kid
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I share your pessimism about contacting the manufacturer. In my days as a repairman, I I saw several go to lengths to design me out of the equation.

"Booting from a disk" usually just means that they start something reading at sector 0 of the first partition. Sometimes there's an offset, but it's generally ok. The correct code is important.

Without documentation or reason, I do not feel it is wise to "fix" a working DVR. Rule number 1 is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" You may well be able to telnet or ssh in to it, although not necessarily on standard ports. They often leave that sort of thing for the maintenance guys.Then you can find out stuff. Debian also have an Arm port, as have slackware.
 
Old 07-19-2014, 05:04 AM   #14
edbarx
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Confirming my pessimism, the manufacturer did not reply let alone giving me the information. Thanks to all of you who dedicated some of your time to reply to this thread. The idea of using telnet and ssh looks interesting... There is another possibility, which is examining whether the hard disk has partitions but I doubt it. If it can boot from a hard disk, that would be great.... Probably, I am dreaming....
 
Old 07-19-2014, 08:30 PM   #15
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About a zero chance this is an x86 system but we don't know still. When they use the phrase "embedded" almost everyone on this forum might suspect a small cpu more like one might find in a home router or small home NAS. It is not easy to change the OS on these. They are very limited on ram. They don't easily let you access any way to hardware.

Look at things like tomato router for how they change OS's on routers.

I suggest you just give up on the idea unless someone has a clear how to for this exact model.
 
  


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