FreeBSD embedded: TinyBSD

Jean Milanez Melo jmelo at FreeBSDBrasil.COM.BR
Thu Jul 15 12:14:30 PDT 2004

Hello small,

  Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm one of the coordinators of
  the Brazilian FreeBSD Users group, coordinator of the official
  FreeBSD documentation's translation group and have been working with
  embedded FreeBSD systems since year 2000.

  I've been studying NanoBSD ever since Poul-Henning posted about it on one of
  the mailling lists, and I have been following this project closely. It
  really is a great project.

  However, I think it sometimes creates unnecessary partitions, takes
  too long to build the system due to make world and it copies lots of
  unneeded binaries, taking a lot of precious space.

  So me and Patrick Tracanelli (another active member of the Brazilian
  FreeBSD community) decided to write a new set of scripts to build
  embedded systems. We've named it TinyBSD, and its goal is to be faster
  at building-time, occupy less space on the target device and to ease
  customization like PicoBSD does.

  Untar/gzip the tinybsd.tar.gz file under /usr/src/release.

  # ls
  TINYBSD            tinybsd.basefiles

  We first take the file TINYBSD, which like in PicoBSD we can use to
  define or remove all kernel options to the new system.

  Then we have tinybsd.basefiles, where we define all binaries necessary
  to get the system running and anyone can edit it as they will.

  Finally we have the script itself, It's a simple script,
  yet functional. We based it on NanoBSD's and its idea is to create a
  temporary work directory where the new system's directory tree will be
  created. Then it'll copy all files listed on tinybsd.basefiles to this
  tree. This copying process is essential to the speed of the building
  process, as we eliminate the recompiling phase. The reason for this is
  FreeBSD 5.1' dynamically-linked base system, which take much less
  space than the old statically-linked ones. This way we can also do the
  copying without affecting the production system in any way.

  After all this, we compile the kernel using the TINYBSD file and then
  we install the necessary libs using the dependencies' output from the
  binaries. We populate the /etc directory on the temp work directory
  and put in a few important default settings in /etc/rc.conf, like:


  Lastly, we create the empty image according to the specifications for
  the device passed in as a parameter and copy the entire temp directory
  to the new image. After that, the user can use dd to write the final
  image to the target device.

  Booting the system works as embedded systems do, mounting /var and
  /tmp as MFS filesystems.

  The most interesting point is the space used by default, only 20MB.

  As you can see, it's pretty simple. But since PicoBSD is practically
  unusable with the 5.x series, TinyBSD could be an interesting
  alternative along with NanoBSD to be put on the base system in future

  Patrick and I have been thinking of enhancing the script and adding
  end-user helping tools such dialog-based menus and the likes. In case
  the FreeBSD project has any interest in our project, we can perfectly
  maintain TinyBSD as an embedded option for FreeBSD users.

  Thank you for your attention
  Jean Milanez Melo

ps: please reply to jmelo at
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