Some devices are compatible, but the network becomes unstable (stops after few minutes). I still don't know why this happens, or how to solve it.
Installing Debian in Agestar without serial port
this method (web update method) only works on agestar, other models can work by using serial port and latest patch for kernel source (2.6.29 or later).
Currently the only available method for installing Debian or any
operating system on Agestar is by using a serial port. The major
problem is the bootloader can not be accessed from the network, so we
boot a new kernel without using serial port. Modifying the bootloader
be possible if we have the source code, unfortunately the source code
The installation idea is simple: I prepare a firmware, that
boot to a partition labeled with "/" (slash). If you want to
install Debian (or
something else, prepare the installation using your Linux PC, then
install the firmware to Agestar. If the firmware can not find '/'
partition, then it will boot a minimal firmware which you can telnet or
ssh, so you can restore the firmware.
Please be very careful, if you still doubt something, please contact
me (Yohanes) before continuing (yohanes [at] gmail.com).
Why should you use Debian on your Agestar
- Install any software that you want (thousands of software
- Optimally use your agestar, just like NSLU2.
Why should you NOT use Debian on your Agestar
- The network is currently slower.
- You must now be careful to shutdown agestar before plugging it to
your desktop. The original firmware is completely in ROM, so you can't
hurt it by unpluging from network and plugging it to PC. Your Debian
will be in your harddisk. If something is corrupted, you may not be
able to boot your agestar Debian box.
- Please backup all of your data on your external hard drive to
- You MAY brick your Agestar if you are not careful. You SHOULD be
able to fix it if you have a serial port.
- After instaling Debian, you should not shutdown your agestar
forcefully (see notes bellow).
Method 1: Using Linux on your Desktop
You need to have Linux on your desktop. This can be:
- Installed on your hard drive,
- Installed on your virtual machine, or
- Booted using Live CD/DVD
This will be used to prepare the Debian partition and root
for Agestar on your Linux desktop. After preparing it, just install a
firmware to agestar that acts as a bootloader.
Partition mapping between your Desktop Linux and Agestar
This knowledge is required for setting up fstab.
Lets assume that you have a harddisk called X. This X is the harddisk
that is or will be inside your agestar. When preparing, you can
take X out from agestar, and put it inside your desktop, or you can
just connect agestar through USB to your PC. When plugged in to your
Linux PC, Linux will assign a device name/id to X.
If you plug it as
USB, it will be given an device name such as /dev/sdX (X can be
a-z, /dev/sda, /dev/sdb and so on). If you are using IDE disk, you will
have a device name in the format /dev/hdX. For each partition, it will
a number (such as /dev/sda1, /dev/hda2, and so on). You can have this
device name by running Gparted.
When the agestar is booted, the
agestar will always assign these names:
- If there is only hard disk inside
it, and nothing attached in the USB:
The device name is /dev/sda
for hard disk inside the agestar.
- If there is no hard disk inside
it, and something attached in the USB:
The device name is /dev/sda
for the disk attached to the USB.
- If both are present: The
device name is /dev/sda for
hard disk inside the agestar, and /dev/sdb
for the disk attached to the USB.
So, in the next step, just write down the note/write down the partition number where you want to
install Debian. When you are using USB in the desktop you will see
/dev/sdb2 the letter b can be different just
remember the partition number number where you want to install
Make several partitions, three is recommended:
- One for Debian itself (1 - 15 GB, depends on how many softwares
you want to Install on it). One gigabyte is the minimum. This partition
must use EXT2/3 partition (EXT3 is highly recommended).
- One for swap (100 Mb should be enough, more is OK)
- And one for your data (the rest). You can use EXT3/FAT32. EXT3 is
better supported by Linux, but if you use Windows only, you need to
install addition software to access your disk via USB. You can use
FAT32 if you want to use USB in Windows/MAC.
If you are an experienced Linux user use cfdisk/fdisk/sfdisk to
your partition, if not, use GParted,
a partition editor with
Graphical User Interface.
Here is an example partition (the swap partition in this
example is too big, 100mb is enough):
Disk /dev/sdf: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sdf1 1 125 1004031 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sdf2 126 1950 14659312+ 83 Linux
/dev/sdf3 1951 60801 472720657+ 83 Linux
Label the boot partition
Use e2label to give label "/" to root partition
desktop_pc # e2label /dev/sdf2 /
This is needed so that the
partition is recognized as boot partition.
Note where your swap partition is (for example: /dev/sda1), and from
command line type:
Extract Debian Root Filesystem
Download Debian filesystem from here rapidshare mirror is available here (most of the time rapidshare is faster), you can also try this hotfile mirror.
Mount the Debian partition and
extract the files to the new partition. Assume that
debian-etch-base.tar.bz2 is in /root
desktop_pc # mount /dev/sda2 /mnt
desktop_pc # cd /mnt
desktop_pc # tar -xf /root/debian-etch-base.tar.bz2
Edit Some Files
Edit /etc/fstab in the agestar partition to match your partition
layout, here is one example:
desktop_pc # cd /mnt/etc/
desktop_pc # vi fstab
# <file system> <mount point> <type> <options> <dump> <pass>
/dev/sda1 none swap sw 0 0
/dev/sda2 / ext3 defaults,noatime 0 0
/dev/sda3 /home ext3 defaults,noatime 0 0
proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
Put in the new firmware
To put the new firmware, install it using the web firmware updater.
Download the new firmware from here
When you upgrade using this firmware, it will say that the upgrade
failed. Don't worry, thats normal (because I still can't make it work
Login using ssh
Just fire up your ssh client to connect to the agestar ip address.
Debian will use DHCP
desktop_pc # ssh -v root@ipaddress
password is root
From this point on, the commands are performed in the agestar using
Update your SSH keys:
star # rm /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*
star # dpkg-reconfigure openssh-server
Change your timezone:
star # tzselect
And do whatever you like with your Agestar
Decided that you don't like Debian?
SSH to your Agestar.
Get this backup mtd
file, i have also
included it in the debian tarball. If you have not installed debian yet, don't use oldfirmware.bin through the web updater, only use oldfirmware.bin using dd
Write it to your agestar
star # dd if=oldfirmware.bin of=/dev/mtdblock1
wait until the command finished (it will take a few minutes).
Method 2: Installing using debian installer
Not finished yet. Still trying to build netboot image.