Archive for February, 2019

A Cuntoo Adventure

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

They say the best way to tell any story is to start at the beginning. This story could be a bit long but, I'll try to tell it in the shortest way possible.

There I was about ten days ago, wanting to get a Cuntoo going not only for TRB purposes, but also for want to run TMSR~'s own UNIX. I have a number of different machines at my disposal that I could have chosen to attempt to build Cuntoo upon; however, they are all Intel hardware (for whatever reason I don't have a working AMD box at the moment - Cuntoo does ship with a APU2 kernel config), and I do have one machine that was a good choice to try Cuntoo out. This machine in particular is named 'trb-test1', and I built it in early 2018 and has been running Gentoo happily ever since. It's main job is a TRB testing environment. Never had a problem with it since I plugged it in late last spring. Let me give some context about it's hardware; the trb-test1 box is a Lenovo M-7033 with an Intel i5-2400 @ 3.10Ghz CPU, 8 Gb RAM, and a 500 Gb WD SATA SSD.

Let me give some further context about the working Gentoo environment that is installed on the 500 Gb WD SATA SSD (on SATA channel 1). Gentoo was built upon it in the usual fashion with a Live CD and through following the Gentoo Handbook. There was nothing out of the ordinary regarding its Kernel, I didn't do any custom Kernel configuration. It has a generic Grub boot-loader. The /etc/fstab/ has three partitions, as shown by the fdisk -l /dev/sda, very simple.

With all of this in mind, I went off to start on this Cuntoo adventure. To do so, I didn't want to use my existing Gentoo SSD for this, as I wanted to keep that around in case of problems. So I bought a new 250 Gb WD SSD for the job. I powered down the trb-test1 box, unplugged the CDROM from SATA channel 2, and plugged in the new 250 Gb SSD into channel 2. This allowed me to boot back into my working Gentoo and begin going through the steps as outlined on trinque's blog. To keep things totally simple, I copied over my working kernel config /usr/src/linux/.config from my working Gentoo on the same box (currently plugged into SATA channel 1, /dev/sda), and dropped it into the cuntoo/config directory and ran the following command: `./bootstrap.sh -k config/trb-test1 -d /dev/sdb`. Everything seemed to work well, however, the output genesis file didn't verify with trinque's signature. I decided to put that aside for a moment as I wanted to just see if I could get it to boot.

After the Cuntoo script had completed, I powered down trb-test1 and unplugged the 500 Gb SSD Gentoo disk from SATA1, placed it in an anti-static bag, and then unplugged the newly created Cuntoo disk from SATA2, and into SATA1, and plugged the CDROM drive back into SATA2. Now it was time to try booting Cuntoo for the first time. I powered on the box, and this was the message I received, and it just "hung" there for at least 5 minutes, which indicated to me that there was some kind of problem and it wasn't going to boot.

After that kernel hang, I was somewhat convinced that I had procured a bad SSD out of the box. So I decided to drive to go buy another one of the exact same specs, and try that one. It's never bad to have an extra laying around anyway, and I at least wanted to remove one possible variable from the equation. After a full rebuild of Cuntoo on the new 250 Gb WD SSD, I received the same panic message. If anything, it told me that it wasn't a hard drive issue. I did, many times, boot up into the Gentoo Live CD and mount the Cuntoo disk in a chroot to check various configuration files and paramters. The /etc/lilo.conf looked fine, I checked that the UUIDs for the /boot and / directories matched up from what was in /dev/disk/by-uuid, etc. And after that didn't seem to help, I went back to the /etc/lilo.conf and commented out those lines, and instead put in the proper 'boot=/dev/sda', and 'root=/dev/sda3'. After which, running `/sbin/lilo` to refresh the /boot/map and other things that lilo does when installing. Neither of which seemed to help here. I also looked over the /etc/fstab and a `fdisk -l /dev/sda` while in the chroot, all of which looked perfect. All in all, everything that I looked at that was installed by the Cuntoo bootstrap script, looked like it should have worked. Nothing at all seemed out of the ordinary.

The message at boot time was barely anything to go on, so I spent some time relearning how to get Kernel Panic messages out of the boot process. trinque's lilo configuration contained a 'console=ttyS0,115200n8' in the append section of the 'image' portion of the file. So, I unearthed my Null Modem Cable and plugged that into one of my other Gentoo boxes. On the other Gentoo box, I su'd to root, and ran the following command to enable reading from the Serial Line `stty -F /dev/sttys0 115200 raw -echo -echoe -echok`. I then executed a `dd if=/dev/ttyS0 of=kern.debug`. Back over to the Cuntoo box, I then powered it on, and when I received the hang-message, I waited about 1 minute to ensure that I had captured all of the panic output. Then I simply ^C'd the `dd` on the other box and sure enough, I had captured the panic in the file kern.debug.

After this, I tried a myriad of other things, I initially wrote them out here, but I'm going to cut them as they are pretty much irrelevant. Every type of different attempt yielded the same panic message.

There may be something about this particular iron it does not seem to be "happy" with. It seems strange to me that the same kernel configuration that I use for Gentoo, on the exact same box, would not work here properly. However, there could be something weird happening with the boot-loader, but it's beyond my area of expertise. One thing that I did note from comparing my working Gentoo to Cuntoo, is that my Gentoo does have an initrd installed into /boot. At one point, I even hand-built an initrd and placed it into the Cuntoo /boot and re-ran /sbin/lilo, but that didn't seem to help either. It just dropped me into a shell, that didn't get me much of anywhere. And additionally, I'm not super convinced that I even did that part 100% correctly as I've never hand-rolled an initrd before. I'm not sure that I will continue to try to get Cuntoo working on this particular hardware, maybe instead I'll have to acquire some APU2 iron and try trinque's provided APU2 kernel config. If I ever do find success on this particular hardware, I'll be sure to write about it on this blog as a follow up.