RB Linux

RB Linux is an embedded mini-distribution I put together while working with Wafer 4823, a single board computer originally shipped with FreeDOS.

Embedded systems running this distribution operate three automated parking lots in Bratislava, Slovakia and half a dozen energy consumption monitoring and controlling systems in industry companies around Slovakia. Enhanced with iptables, RB Linux had been used for years in our appartment's router machine.

RB Linux consists of the following software components (most of them are optional):

  • Linux
    2.4 series of the OS kernel
  • uClibc
    the C library for embedded systems
  • BusyBox
    the UNIX environment in single executable
  • TinyLogin
    user management and authentication
  • util-linux
    system utilities fdisk, rdev and hwclock
  • Lilo
    the boot loader
  • e2fsprogs
    the filesystem tools
  • netkit-base
    the inetd service
  • netkit-telnet
    the Telnet server and client
  • linux-ftpd
    the FTP server
  • Boa
    the web server
  • Berkeley DB4
    embeddable database library
  • Tcl
    the scripting language
  • NPort
    proprietary Linux drivers for RS-232 serial device servers

RB Linux fits on a single 1.44 MB floppy disk, from which it can both boot and be installed on the HDD. As far as I can remember, when running, requires no more than 4MB RAM, installation does not require more than 4MB of hard disk space.

RB Linux is actually not much of a Linux distribution, it's just a fat, hairy shell script that does a few things:

  • download the source code of packages configured to be included in the installation
  • unpack the source code tarballs and apply custom rblinux patches
  • build the individual packages and install them into common installation directory
  • add init scripts, install script, configuration files, etc.
  • create the bootable floppy disk image with RB Linux

The makedist script depends on the host system's mkinitrd program. On recent version of a desktop distribution, the init ramdisk might get a bit bigger than the one we would have created ourselves. TODO!

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