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Single User Secure Shell

Installing small systems with FreeBSD using the Secure Shell RAMdisk environment.

The tutorial will first review and compare the different FreeBSD distributions

  • PicoBSD and NanoBSD
  • miniBSD and m0n0wall
  • Friesbie Live CD

which may be suitable for small systems:

  • Advantech: PC/104
  • Soekris and PCEngines: serial console

After this introduction, the standard FreeBSD install process and the requisite utilities are studied. By understanding how the install RAMdisk works, its customization and extension will become quite straightforward:

  • Building a crunched binary via `crunchgen'
  • Crunching the standard Secure Shell binaries
  • The need to support run-time loading in the RAMdisk
  • Custom FreeBSD kernels for Soekris and PCEngine systems
  • Building and installing custom compact flash distribution
  • Working on the serial console

By putting togethor these components, a FreeBSD system can be made remotely manageable via Secure Shell even if it should hang in single user. The necessary additions and changes to the standard FreeBSD /boot hierarchy are described and demonstrated. Additional consideration is required when working with compact flash based systems since they need to mount filesystems read-only and generally do not carry a full distribution.

In the second half of the tutorial, participants will stage their own small compact-flash based systems using the RAMdisk Secure Shell.

Intended Audience

FreeBSD users who are interested in staging their own compact flash based systems or who would like to build custom RAMdisk distributions. This will be a `hands on' tutorial!

All participants are encouraged to bring their own small system with at least 64MB CF as well as a laptop with DB9 serial port or USB->RS232 cable.

For tutorial participants, a PCEngines WRAP.1E-2 (266MHz AMD Geode, 3 LAN, 1 miniPCI, 128MB RAM) bundle including enclosure, 128MB CF, DB9 serial console cable, and RJ45 network crossover cable will be available at a highly discounted price. Please pre-order to ensure that enough sets will be available for purchase at the tutorial.

About the Tutor

Adrian Steinmann earned a Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and has over 15 years experience as consultant and software developer. He has been working on FreeBSD since 1993 (version 1.0) and since 1997 he maintains and develops the base system of STYX, a remote managed firewall. He is fluent in Perl, C, English, German, Italian, and has passion and flair for finding simple solutions to intricate problems. During his free time, he likes to play Go, to hike, and to sculpt.


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