ALIX is a small-factor, low-power x86 platform designed and sold by PC Engines. I’ve set up one such system with my call-home scripts, and I plan to use it instead of (or alongside) those netbooks: it’s more compact, and it’s cheaper (around $150 for a box).
Voyage Linux is a Debian OS distribution adapted for such small-factor platforms. It mounts the flash drive in read-only mode by default, and also the kernel loads all necessary modules to support the ALIX board.
After setting up Voyage as described in their README, I do the following steps to optimize the setup (after issuing remountrw command):
0. Edit /etc/apt/sources.list and select a nearer mirror, e.g.
deb http://mirror.switch.ch/ftp/mirror/debian/ squeeze main contrib non-free
1. Adapt the DHCP client configuration so that it re-tries faster if DHCP service is unavailable:
# /etc/dhcp/dhclient.conf # <other options skipped> timeout 10; retry 20;
2. Install NTP service. This is important because the board does not have a battery-powered RTC clock.
apt-get update apt-get install ntp
3. Add a user for myself, add it to sudoers with NOPASSWD: option, and then remove the root password completely.
4. If I want to use X11 forwarding through SSH, there’s one problem: my home directory is by default on a read-only filesystem, and xauth tries to create .Xauthority in my home directory. To avoid that, I do the following:
sudo apt-get install xauth sudo cat >> /etc/ssh/sshd_config <<EOT PermitUserEnvironment yes EOT sudo service ssh restart cat >.ssh/environment <<EOT XAUTHORITY=/tmp/johndoe.Xauthority EOT
5. Install additional stuff as needed:
sudo apt-get install dump git wireshark
6. Reboot, test, and backup the filesystem by using dump command (don’t use dump compression, as the CPU is rather slow).