[alpha] Debian 9.0 NETINST fails

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[alpha] Debian 9.0 NETINST fails

Bob Tracy
Quick background info: I'm having to do a "from scratch" install on my
PWS 433au (miata) due to a SCSI disk failure.

The Debian 9.0 NETINST image (from
"http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/ports/9.0/alpha/iso-cd/") seems to
boot ok from SRM (>>> b dka[device_spec]) and takes me to the usual
"aboot" menu.  Typing "l" to get a list of pre-configured kernels gets
me three items, all of which are designated "n" rather than the expected
"0", "1", "2".  The first kernel seems to be the desired one, as the
other two expect a serial console on ttyS0 and ttyS1 respectively.

Typing "0" at the "aboot" prompt seems to do the right thing as far as
selecting the first item in the list.  The "initrd" loads, and at the
point where a message gets printed out to the effect it's booting the
kernel with the expected options (as listed for the first kernel in the
aboot menu), I get a halt with code 5 (CPU 0 halted), and I'm back at
the SRM prompt.  Completely repeatable.

Before I try the 8.0 NETINST image, if anyone has noticed anything
fundamentally wrong with how I'm trying to boot the 9.0 image, kindly
let me know.

Possibly relevant: I'm using the Radeon video card that was in the
machine when the disk failed.  I have the original TGA video card if the
NETINST kernel can't handle the Radeon, but would rather not have to
swap out the video card if I don't absolutely have to.

Thanks.

--Bob

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Re: [alpha] Debian 9.0 NETINST fails

Bob Tracy
(Dyslexia-related failure on original copy to Michael)

On Fri, Nov 02, 2018 at 01:41:51PM -0500, Bob Tracy wrote:

> Quick background info: I'm having to do a "from scratch" install on my
> PWS 433au (miata) due to a SCSI disk failure.
>
> The Debian 9.0 NETINST image (from
> "http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/ports/9.0/alpha/iso-cd/") seems to
> boot ok from SRM (>>> b dka[device_spec]) and takes me to the usual
> "aboot" menu.  Typing "l" to get a list of pre-configured kernels gets
> me three items, all of which are designated "n" rather than the expected
> "0", "1", "2".  The first kernel seems to be the desired one, as the
> other two expect a serial console on ttyS0 and ttyS1 respectively.
>
> Typing "0" at the "aboot" prompt seems to do the right thing as far as
> selecting the first item in the list.  The "initrd" loads, and at the
> point where a message gets printed out to the effect it's booting the
> kernel with the expected options (as listed for the first kernel in the
> aboot menu), I get a halt with code 5 (CPU 0 halted), and I'm back at
> the SRM prompt.  Completely repeatable.
>
> Before I try the 8.0 NETINST image, if anyone has noticed anything
> fundamentally wrong with how I'm trying to boot the 9.0 image, kindly
> let me know.
>
> Possibly relevant: I'm using the Radeon video card that was in the
> machine when the disk failed.  I have the original TGA video card if the
> NETINST kernel can't handle the Radeon, but would rather not have to
> swap out the video card if I don't absolutely have to.

Additional info...  Frank Scheiner reported similar badness on his PWS
back in March of 2017.  See the "debian-alpha" archive link:

https://lists.debian.org/debian-alpha/2017/03/msg00007.html

Executive summary: SMP 4.x kernels work fine, but the generic Debian
kernel does *not* (or at least didn't at that time).

--Bob

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Re: [alpha] Debian 9.0 NETINST fails

Frank Scheiner
Dear Bob,

sorry, looks like I missed your mails to the debian-alpha list until now.

On 11/2/18 19:56, Bob Tracy wrote:
> Additional info...  Frank Scheiner reported similar badness on his PWS
> back in March of 2017.  See the "debian-alpha" archive link:
>
> https://lists.debian.org/debian-alpha/2017/03/msg00007.html
>
> Executive summary: SMP 4.x kernels work fine, but the generic Debian
> kernel does *not* (or at least didn't at that time).

I can confirm this. I don't remember exactly when I tried the Debian 9
Sid installer image with 4.x generic kernel provided by Adrian, but I
remember that it produced the same result, i.e.:

```
[...]
halted CPU 0

halt code = 5
HALT instruction executed
[...]
```

I believe since then no newer installer image for Alpha was produced.

****

As a workaround, could it work to netboot the matching stock SMP kernel
(4.9.0-3) with the netboot installer initrd from [1]? I don't know how
to extract the initrd from the `netabootwrap`ed image though.

Or could it work to netboot the SMP kernel with the cdrom installer
initrd from [1] and the installer CDROM in the CDROM drive?

[1].
http://ftp.ports.debian.org/debian-ports/pool-alpha/main/d/debian-installer/debian-installer-images_20170615_alpha.tar.gz

****

Other approach: as per [2] hppa for example uses two kernels. So could
we just change [2] for alpha to also include the SMP kernel, with e.g.
that patch:

```
--- debian/installer/kernel-versions 2018-11-06 13:30:54.152319148 +0100
+++ debian/installer/kernel-versions-new 2018-11-06 13:31:38.992320296 +0100
@@ -1,5 +1,6 @@
  # arch     version flavour       installedname suffix build-depends
  alpha      -       alpha-generic -             y      -
+alpha      -       alpha-smp     -             y      -
  amd64      -       amd64         -             -      -
  arm64      -       arm64         -             -      -
  armel      -       marvell       -             y      -
```

...and the installer images will also include the SMP kernel?

[2]:
https://salsa.debian.org/kernel-team/linux/raw/master/debian/installer/kernel-versions

Cheers,
Frank

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Re: [alpha] Debian 9.0 NETINST fails

Bob Tracy
On Tue, Nov 06, 2018 at 01:36:45PM +0100, Frank Scheiner wrote:
> sorry, looks like I missed your mails to the debian-alpha list until now.

Not a problem.  As a temporary workaround, I've got an "amd64" "testing"
distro loaded on a spare i5-based system.  We have time to explore
options and possibly put together a "recent" alpha installer that will work.

> (...)
> ****
>
> As a workaround, could it work to netboot the matching stock SMP kernel
> (4.9.0-3) with the netboot installer initrd from [1]? I don't know how to
> extract the initrd from the `netabootwrap`ed image though.

Example:
# mount -t iso9660 debian-9.0-alpha-NETINST-1.iso /mnt/cdrom -o loop,ro

> Or could it work to netboot the SMP kernel with the cdrom installer initrd
> from [1] and the installer CDROM in the CDROM drive?
>
> [1]. http://ftp.ports.debian.org/debian-ports/pool-alpha/main/d/debian-installer/debian-installer-images_20170615_alpha.tar.gz
>
> ****
>
> Other approach: as per [2] hppa for example uses two kernels. So could we
> just change [2] for alpha to also include the SMP kernel, with e.g. that
> patch:
>
> ```
> --- debian/installer/kernel-versions 2018-11-06 13:30:54.152319148 +0100
> +++ debian/installer/kernel-versions-new 2018-11-06 13:31:38.992320296 +0100
> @@ -1,5 +1,6 @@
>  # arch     version flavour       installedname suffix build-depends
>  alpha      -       alpha-generic -             y      -
> +alpha      -       alpha-smp     -             y      -
>  amd64      -       amd64         -             -      -
>  arm64      -       arm64         -             -      -
>  armel      -       marvell       -             y      -
> ```
>
> ...and the installer images will also include the SMP kernel?
>
> [2]: https://salsa.debian.org/kernel-team/linux/raw/master/debian/installer/kernel-versions

I'm not going to be able to look at this too closely for the next few
days, but my thought was to simply replace the generic kernel with the
smp kernel on the existing "netinst" ISO.  The most obvious issue is
finding (or building) the correct version of the smp kernel.  Rebuilding
the ISO image once the kernel binary has been copied into place looks to
be a straightforward procedure: the relevant details are present on the
existing ISO image in the ".disk" directory (the "mkisofs" file).

This isn't the correct fix by any means, but as workarounds go, not too
distasteful because everything else on the installer image remains
unchanged (except for possibly a few file checksums if anything involved
in the actual installation process cares about them).

At the moment, I don't have the necessary infrastructure to build an
alpha kernel.  If someone could build the appropriate 4.9.0-3 smp kernel
and make it available for download, I think I can handle the rest...

I guess while I'm poking around in the existing ISO image, I should look
to see which video drivers are included in the "initrd" image.  A non-
graphical method of installation is perfectly acceptable if that's an
option: for all I know, that *is* the option :-).

As far as thinking outside the box a little bit, it's helpful to
consider what my actual goal(s) might be.  What I really need to be
able to do is (a) partition the hard disk; (b) create file systems;
(c) install the "aboot" boot sector; and (d) copy my backup into place
from an external USB device.  If having USB support on a CD booted in
"rescue" mode is expecting a bit much, the restoration could be
accomplished over a network connection (trivially if NFS support is
built into the mix).  In other words, I don't really need to be able
to do even a minimal Debian installation.  Depending on the "rescue"
feature set available, even an older known-to-work alpha installer
image might be sufficient to accomplish what I want.  With an older
installer image, the main concerns would be support for "ext3/ext4"
file system types, and having the most recent version of "aboot".  The
Debian 8.0 installer might meet those basic requirements: I haven't
checked.

--Bob

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Re: [alpha] Debian 9.0 NETINST fails

John Paul Adrian Glaubitz
In reply to this post by Frank Scheiner
Hello!

On 11/6/18 1:36 PM, Frank Scheiner wrote:
> I believe since then no newer installer image for Alpha was produced.
I can unfortunately not build updated installer images for Alpha since I
don't have an Alpha porterbox available where I can build the debian-installer
package for Alpha.

I do have two AlphaStation 233 sitting in the basement at the university now,
but I don't have any time and space to set them up to be used as porterboxes.

The only porterbox currently currently available to me is Michael Cree's "electro"
but the repositories of the chroots there don't include the debian-installer
component packages, so building d-i fails - at least last time I tried.

Adrian

--
 .''`.  John Paul Adrian Glaubitz
: :' :  Debian Developer - [hidden email]
`. `'   Freie Universitaet Berlin - [hidden email]
  `-    GPG: 62FF 8A75 84E0 2956 9546  0006 7426 3B37 F5B5 F913