Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Sat 23rd May, 2009

Installing and debugging Minimyth for fun and profit

In the ongoing quest to save power, I am moving my MythTV backend onto my low-power home web server, and building a new low-power frontend based on a fanless Via EPIA M board and the Minimyth custom linux distro. This is a cut-down system designed to boot off TFTP or NFS, but can be also adapted to boot off a CompactFlash card, which is what I'm doing (my firewall has a DHCP server but the web interface doesn't allow me to set a TFTP boot option, and I can't be bothered to work out PXE boot just this moment).

It's a very neat little package, with everything you could want compiled in, but this also means that setting it up is a rather complicated process. First you write a specialised config file, which has to go in a specific place. Then you unpack the various bits and pieces onto the CF card and run syslinux on it to make it bootable. Then you stick it in the machine and boot it, and if anything goes wrong you telnet (yes, telnet) into it and peruse its /var/log/messages to find out what went wrong. Then you take the CF card out, fiddle with the contents a bit on your own computer, plug it back in and see if that helped.

This is made somewhat frustrating by the lack of examples and somewhat minimalistic approach to explanation that the minimyth documentation takes. It also leans more toward the network boot process (to have no flash drive in the machine at all, and to allow you to run a writable root partition) and covers the flash install side somewhat minimally. The site also doesn't provide a sample / working / minimal minimyth.conf file, so you have to google around and womp up one on your own. Add to that the minimyth machine's habit of only bringing up its telnet connection (yes, telnet) about two minutes after you've booted it,

I started this nearly a week ago, and various delays and frustrations have prevented me from documenting all the steps. But I'll try to get more of the process documented soon.

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