Sunday, April 19, 2009

Xubuntu Intrepid on SD Card

I've had an SD card since last December with Xubuntu Intrepid on it customized for the XO. I created it with these instructions. I've been happily using it on my own XO since that time and have made several small modifications while at the same time keeping all the packages up to date.

Now I want to see if I can produce 10 to 20 of these cards to use with our new XOs. Today I plan to test out a process for creating these cards using:
  • ativa SDHC 4GB cards
  • my Asus eeepc 1000
I started by putting the working SD card into the eeepc. The card reader on that laptop is awesome. I have yet to find a card it wouldn't read, and I put several cards into it that were not able to be read by other laptop readers.

It recognized the card as /dev/sdc1 and mounted it on /media/OLPCRoot. At a root prompt on the eepc, I then did the following:
  • mkdir /opt/OLPCRoot
  • cp -R /media/OLPCRoot/* /opt/OLPCRoot
It took around 5 minutes to copy all the files over. Since teapot's instructions assume you are making the new card from an XO, I had to adapt them for the eeepc. Here is what I did next (from a root prompt):
  • inserted the ativa SD card into the eeepc card reader (it recognized it again as /dev/sdc1)
  • umount /dev/sdc1
  • dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdc bs=4096 count=1 (to erase the partition table)
  • echo -e ',,L,*\n\n\n' | sfdisk /dev/sdc (to create a new partition table)
  • mke2fs -jLOLPCRoot /dev/sdc1 (to create an ext2 file system on the new partition)
  • removed the card and reinserted it so it would automount
  • cp -R /opt/OLPCRoot/* /media/OLPCRoot/
It took about 9 minutes to copy the files to the new SD card. Actually, when I went to unmount the drive using the Gnome media browser, it popped up a window saying it could not unmount the drive, and than another window titled "Single Flash Reader" which said "Writing data to device". The activity bar in this window remained active for about 3 minutes and then closed.

It Works (sort of)!

I took the new SD card out of the eeepc's card reader and put it in my XO. I turned it on and... it worked! Actually, it booted as far as the custom Xubuntu splash screen and then seemed to freeze. After what seemed like 2 minutes, I was about to turn off the machine using the power button when the progress bar started advancing. It finally proceeded to the gdm login screen, and I tried logging in using the olpc username and password I have configured on the source card. I got an error message that the $HOME/.dmrc file should be owned by the user with permissions of 644.

It looks like this process is close, but will require some tweeking. I'll talk to Matt about it tomorrow. In the mean time, I have confirmed that the ativa SD cards will work, so I can put in an order for a bunch of them tomorrow while the sale is on at Office Depot.


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