USB booting a Soekris net6501 from USB
Unlike previous models, Soekris net6051 boards support booting from a USB flash drive plugged in to the external USB port or the internal port. This is sometimes more convenient than using the PXE netboot method which is well documented elsewhere.
I will be booting the system from a regular USB flash drive in order to install Debian onto a second very smal USB flash drive which will be permanently plugged in to the internal USB port.
Prepare the installer flash drive
- Download an i386 netinstall ISO from a debian mirror. I'm using Debian Wheezy 7.5.
- Using another computer running Linux, partition the flash drive with an MBR partition table and one FAT partition (type c). I used fdisk to do this.
- Format the partition, i.e:
# mkfs.msdos /dev/sdb1
- Mount the partition and run unetbootin
- Use unetbootin to copy the contents of the Debian ISO to the USB flash drive.
- When unetbootin has finished, locate the syslinux.cfg file in the root of the USB drive, then replace its contents with something like the following:
default linux prompt 1 display boot.msg timeout 100 label linux kernel /install.386/vmlinuz append initrd=/install.386/initrd.gz console=ttyS0,19200n8 -
Boot the Installer
That's it, time to unmount the flash drive, plug it in to your Soekris net6501 and power it on. Connect a VT100-capable terminal to the serial port and set it to 19200,8n1. When your soekris starts to go through its BIOS, note the order of the boot devices, for example:
Soekris USB Expansion ROM ver. 1.01 20111203 80: USB 01 SanDisk Cruzer Slice Xlt 973-255-63 7816 Mbyte 81: USB 02 SanDisk Cruzer Fit Xlt 1024-255-63 15633 Mbyte
When prompted, press ctrl-p and give the following command:
2 Seconds to automatic boot. Press Ctrl-P for entering Monitor. comBIOS Monitor. Press ? for help. > boot 80
boot: prompt, just press return. After much output you'll be presented with the familiar Debian text-based installer. Install Debian as desired onto the internal USB flash drive, which in my case is detected as /dev/sdb
Boot the installed system
When prompted, reboot, but leave the installer USB flash drive connected, otherwise the internal drive will be detected as /dev/sda, so fstab and GRUB will be out of whack. We'll sort this in a minute.