Sunday, 16 January 2011

Building openWRT for BifferBoard

I had a go at building openWRT for my new bifferboard computer last weekend, but had trouble with it - it looked like the kernel started, but then panicked around the time it was supposed to be starting init. I suspect it was something to do with the j2ffs file system.

I decided to try to be clever and rather than fix openWRT, start from scratch with an OpenEmbedded based build. I think this was too big a step - the main problem was that OpenEmbedded failed to build because some sources from are not available, so I had to learn how to alter 'recipes' to build them from sources from another location. I got ipkg-utils to build this way, but then hit more trouble with openssh. I decided it was going to take me a long time, so went back to openWRT for now to try to get something working!

This time I followed the exact instructions from the bifferboard site, including downloading the specific revision of openWRT.   This all compiled nicely without any errors, so the next challenge was to get it onto the board.

Flashing over the serial line seemed to take a very long time, so I had a go with network setup.
I downloaded the bifferboard utilities using:
svn co
This provides a simple python based tftp server.   I had to modify it to use a fixed ip address for my host computer, because the script assumes that you are using eth0 for the network interface, and I was using wireless.
You then need to make sure that there is a file called bzImage in your working directory and start - I had to do it as root because I got some permission denied errors about opening sockets, and the easiest way to fix it was to be root - there is probably a more elegant solution though.

First I created a symbolic link to the bzImage file that openWRT had produced.   Then booted the bifferboard with the serial line connected and pressed ESC to stop the boot process.   Entering the tftpflash command downloaded the bzImage from the server and flashed it to the disk - much quicker than a serial line.
The kernel started, but failed with a lot of j2ffs errors - I think this is because I had my old root filesystem in the flash memory.
For the next attempt I created a symbolic link from openwrt-rdc-jffs2-64k-bifferboard.img to bzImage.
Re-flashed it again the same way and it boots!

A minor detail was that I could not log into it - the serial console was fine and both telnetd and dropbear (the SSH server) were running, but I got 'connection refused' when I tried to connect.   It turned out that there was something called 'firewall' running.   I deleted /etc/rc.d/S45firewall and re-booted and it worked properly - I could telnet in initially without a password, set a root password, then use ssh to connect.
Success - Now I just need to sort out the weather station software to run on it - back to the cross compiler....

running make package/symlinks in the openWRT directory adds all of the available packages to the openWRT menuconfig program.
Added the ones I know I need (libusb, python, pyusb), plus a few others that might come in useful later (atheros wireless card drivers).  Then make.....and wait...
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