Linux on Compact Flash Card
For some reason we at SoSLUG seemed to have great difficulty finding information that would enable us to install a Linux system to a Compact Flash Card.
Identified Problems and Observations
- Locate obtain or build an Operating System for use on Compact Flash.
- Install (somehow) to Compact Flash the Linux Operating System obtained.
- Not all CF Cards are the same or to be more precise what will work on one set of equipment will not necessarily work on another set. We used both a 512Mb and 128Mb Compact Flash Cards.
- Not all "Computer Touch Screens" are the same even when they are obtained when they are the same model and from the same manufacturer.
- The Linux system obtained does not come with a graphical desktop.
- Because this is a Touch screen we need to find a way to interface with it.
- Linux drivers for both the "Touch Screen" and the "Graphics" for the system will need to be obtained.
- Low system resources and memory capacity may effect how we install additional applications on equipment.
- Compact Flash 128Mb
- Compact Flash 512Mb
- Not a Compaq LCD Colour Tablet (Don't know what it is but it is not a Compaq)
- Compact Flash Card Reader with USB Cable
- 32Bit relatively old generic Personal Computer as opposed to a 64Bit(PC) which is fitted with a USB port and an internal CDRom drive (We need this to install OS to the Compact Flash) an old computer is more likely to have hardware which is compatible with version of Linux you are trying to use for Compact Flash Card (CF).
We had found any number of sites that claim to provide "Howto" covering this subject and where we found the information was relevant in the vast majority of cases, the links to supporting sites for "iso" were missing or non existent.
We knew from the outset that our task was possible and that others before us had accomplished similar objectives. Our brief was to install a working Linux Operating System for the purpose of running graphical educational applications that would suit the younger generation not yet accustomed to the use of IO (Input Output) devices such a mice or keyboards, the OS installed would need to be small, flexible and operate from a touch sensitive screen.
Linux will, with a small bit of coaxing in theory at least, install and run on any X86 based computer, however with limits on system resources for this type of equipment we may be bitting off more than we could chew.
We looked at several sites for help installing Linux to a Compact Flash memory card with and had varying degrees of success, our first attempts failed. Syslinux looked a possibility and a comprehensive procedure was adopted, with the procedure followed we managed to boot into the first part of the Linux OS however when it came to identifying the hardware it was running on and the file system specifically, it would fail to load further. Several further attempts were made to finalise the boot but all attempts continue to fail.
Continuing to look for a suitable solution we stumbled across a site that had an active link to an "iso" specifically for use with CF cards. this was downloaded and installed to a blank compact disc, a CF card and CF card reader was connected and attached via a USB cable to a suitable 32Bit computer (we had tried with a 64Bit laptop however this was unsuccessful). The iso formated CD was installed in the CDRom and the computer rebooted to run as a live CD install, all screen directions were followed. An image of 128Mb was installed to the CF card.
Bootable Linux USB Distro's and Howto's
Below is a near complete list (as we can make it) of sites that have Bootable Linux distro's which maybe suitable for use with USB Format Storage Devices
- Linux installation for USB flash drives
- Catux-USB is a Knoppix based LiveCD bootable from USB pendrive / keys
- emKnoppix is a distribution of Knoppix tailored for use in embedded systems
- Feather Linux is a lightweight, Knoppix based Linux distro. Feather Linux can run from a CD or a USB pendrive
- Flonix USB Edition is a Knoppix based LiveCD bootable from USB keys
- Knoppix USB is a Knoppix based LiveCD bootable from USB keys
- TLF-Morphix is a Morphix based LiveCD with focus on Ham Radio Feature: a combination of LiveCD, TLF, and USB keys / pendisk
- Contains no details to install to CF or USB pendrive
- Boot KNOPPIX from an USB Memory Stick
- A HOWTO document that explains how to build a Honeystick
- Installing Debian Sarge from a USB memory stick (USB key)
- Booting Linux off of a USB drive
- Build your own Gentoo install / boot / rescue LiveCD and USBStick
- RUNT Linux: The ResNet USB Network Tester
Embedded Linux Solutions
- Athene Desktop Edition a freely available version of Athene + DML for Linux
- emKnoppix - Download (home website)
- CFLinux ISO installer can be downloaded from this site
- SlakbootEBS direct download
You might also like to look at this site which should give a more comprehensive set of installation procedures for the installation of Linux on Tablet PC's
Please feel free to comment especially for any dead links you may have found.