Eee by gum

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. I think I'm becoming less impressed with Asus' idea of how to set up a Linux
    installation.

    On a Unix system, the process with PID 1 (the "init" process) is the
    great-granddaddy of all other processes. Once the kernel is initialized, it
    governs how the rest of the system (the "userland" where processes live)
    comes up. Normally its behaviour is configured via a file
    called /etc/inittab, which in turn contains lines that point to the
    directories containing startup scripts for various services corresponding
    to different runlevels etc.

    But not on an Eee. Its init program is called "fastinit", and while there is
    an /etc/inittab file, it appears to pay no attention to it whatsoever.
    Instead, the commands it executes are hard-coded into the compiled binary
    itself--it's not even a script that you can modify.

    For instance, one of the first things I thought of doing when I got the
    beastie was changing the default username "user" to my usual "ldo". Turns
    out you can't do that: the username "user" is built right into fastinit, as
    well as a bunch of system scripts.

    Another thing is it unconditionally wants to start an X server GUI session.
    And if that dies, it starts it again. And again. On more conventional Linux
    systems, if the GUI dies, it stays dead, and you can at least get to a text
    console and figure out what went wrong. But when the X server is
    automatically restarted, it has a tendency to grab the screen away from
    you, so if this keeps happening, it makes it effectively impossible to
    access a text console.

    I got my Eee into this endless loop this evening, by the simple method of
    creating a ".xsession" file in my home directory. This file contained just
    two lines;

    xmodmap -e "keycode 66 = "
    konsole &

    The first one disables the caps lock key, while the second one starts a
    default terminal session. That's all. But the mere existence of this file
    caused the machine to get stuck, and the only way out was to plug in an
    external optical drive and boot off another Linux CD I happened to have
    handy. After I changed the name of the file to something else, the machine
    was able to boot successfully off its internal drive again.

    I thought there might be a mistake in the above commands, but they work fine
    when I execute them after the machine has properly started up.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 13, 2008
    #1
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  2. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    Enkidu Guest

    Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    > I think I'm becoming less impressed with Asus' idea of how to set up a Linux
    > installation.
    >
    > On a Unix system, the process with PID 1 (the "init" process) is the
    > great-granddaddy of all other processes. Once the kernel is initialized, it
    > governs how the rest of the system (the "userland" where processes live)
    > comes up. Normally its behaviour is configured via a file
    > called /etc/inittab, which in turn contains lines that point to the
    > directories containing startup scripts for various services corresponding
    > to different runlevels etc.
    >
    > But not on an Eee. Its init program is called "fastinit", and while there is
    > an /etc/inittab file, it appears to pay no attention to it whatsoever.
    > Instead, the commands it executes are hard-coded into the compiled binary
    > itself--it's not even a script that you can modify.
    >
    > For instance, one of the first things I thought of doing when I got the
    > beastie was changing the default username "user" to my usual "ldo". Turns
    > out you can't do that: the username "user" is built right into fastinit, as
    > well as a bunch of system scripts.
    >
    > Another thing is it unconditionally wants to start an X server GUI session.
    > And if that dies, it starts it again. And again. On more conventional Linux
    > systems, if the GUI dies, it stays dead, and you can at least get to a text
    > console and figure out what went wrong. But when the X server is
    > automatically restarted, it has a tendency to grab the screen away from
    > you, so if this keeps happening, it makes it effectively impossible to
    > access a text console.
    >
    > I got my Eee into this endless loop this evening, by the simple method of
    > creating a ".xsession" file in my home directory. This file contained just
    > two lines;
    >
    > xmodmap -e "keycode 66 = "
    > konsole &
    >
    > The first one disables the caps lock key, while the second one starts a
    > default terminal session. That's all. But the mere existence of this file
    > caused the machine to get stuck, and the only way out was to plug in an
    > external optical drive and boot off another Linux CD I happened to have
    > handy. After I changed the name of the file to something else, the machine
    > was able to boot successfully off its internal drive again.
    >
    > I thought there might be a mistake in the above commands, but they work fine
    > when I execute them after the machine has properly started up.
    >

    You might want to look at this, Lawrence:

    http://helllabs.org/finit/

    Among other features is :

    "Default user name customizable at runtime"

    Cheers,

    Cliff

    --

    Have you ever noticed that if something is advertised as 'amusing' or
    'hilarious', it usually isn't?
    Enkidu, Jun 14, 2008
    #2
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  3. In article <4853025f$>, Enkidu did write:

    > http://helllabs.org/finit/


    Interesting, thanks for that.

    Following a few of the links, there are some pretty hardcore people out to
    shave every last second off their boot time. I'm not that obsessed, since I
    don't reboot my Eee that often; it had got to an uptime of 42 days earlier
    this week.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 14, 2008
    #3
  4. In article <4853025f$>, Enkidu did write:

    > http://helllabs.org/finit/


    Some of the bugs in Asus' original fastinit are quite hilarious. Like this
    one:

    system("/bin/cat /var/lib/urandom/random-seed >/dev/urandom "
    "> /dev/null 2>&1");

    (It's OK, it took me a couple of goes to see it too :).)
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 15, 2008
    #4
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