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#1 2007-06-11 17:53:13

decoherence
Member
Registered: 2007-01-04
Posts: 10

Portable Arch on external USB (video detection)

Hello Forum,

For school next year, two teachers want to teach some programming in a Linux environment. They want it to be stand-alone, portable and user friendly (I think they're just sick of our Winders/Novell system.) I figured external USB hard drives were the best bet. (we tried flash drives. neat idea but still flaky)

This is totally a cinch except for one very big part which is detecting which video driver to use. I'm not sure if Arch has an "autodetect graphics" script, but I couldn't find one immediately so I wrote my own, knowing that I'd only have to support Intel, nvidia and ati cards.

I started by making a working xorg.conf using the appropriate driver for the PC I was using. Then I copied it to xorg.preconf and replaced the driver name with "UNCONFIGURED." Then I wrote this and had it run at boot.

#!/bin/bash

if lshwd | grep VGA | grep -i intel
then echo Intel graphics detected
sed 's/"UNCONFIGURED"/"i810"/' /etc/X11/xorg.preconf > /etc/X11/xorg.conf
elif lshwd | grep VGA | grep -i nvidia
then echo Nvidia graphics detected
sed 's/"UNCONFIGURED"/"nv"/' /etc/X11/xorg.preconf > /etc/X11/xorg.conf
elif lshwd | grep VGA | grep -i ati
then echo ATI graphics detected
sed 's/"UNCONFIGURED"/"ati"/' /etc/X11/xorg.preconf > /etc/X11/xorg.conf
else echo "Can't recognize a graphics card. Trying ugly video mode."
sed 's/"UNCONFIGURED"/"vesa"/' /etc/X11/xorg.preconf > /etc/X11/xorg.conf
fi

exit 0

And you have a rudimentary video detection script which at least works in my environment. I always love to hear how it might be done better/differently!

Note: seems like vesa fails unless you start X in the same mode as the console framebuffer. Unfortunately 1024x768x8 is as high as our 'lowest common denominator' system goes. Anyone have any tips on milking performance out of vesa? (anybody still USING vesa?)

thanks and cheers,
sean

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#2 2007-06-11 20:43:46

raymano
Member
Registered: 2006-10-13
Posts: 357
Website

Re: Portable Arch on external USB (video detection)

Take a look at http://www.faunos.com

I think it's what you're looking for. It configures X automatically as well.


FaunOS: Live USB/DVD Linux Distro: http://www.faunos.com

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#3 2007-06-11 23:06:44

decoherence
Member
Registered: 2007-01-04
Posts: 10

Re: Portable Arch on external USB (video detection)

haha... what timing. early this morning i read one of your posts introducing faun. I grabbed the disk image when i got to work but I haven't dd'd it on to a usb key yet. i'm looking forward to trying it out, though! But I probably won't get to it until monday. One question; regarding it's use on a USB key (and having never even tried it yet...) how do you deal with the limited number of writes? I've found that the workarounds to this issue (ramdisks, unionfs and such) also tend to be a source of strange behavior. Also, we purchased one of those Mandriva Flash sticks. It suffered through a power outage and after that we couldn't log back in. I ran Mandriva's restore CD on it but it's still broken (it dies while trying to load kde... i don't recall the error.) I suppose since Faun is free I wouldn't have to bother with a special restore CD but just recover what I can from the stick and dd the image back on to it.

okay, starting to think out loud here. i don't need to do that on teh interwebs.

thanks for the release! i'll do my best to annoy you with suggestions! smile

cheers,
sean

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#4 2007-06-12 00:57:06

raymano
Member
Registered: 2006-10-13
Posts: 357
Website

Re: Portable Arch on external USB (video detection)

Suggestions are always welcome smile

Check out our new forums too: http://forum.faunos.com.

One of the unique features of FaunOS is the way it handles writes. Any changes (like system updates, or new file creation in HOME or root filesystem) are done in RAM. At shutdown/reboot FaunOS asks you if you'd like to save the session. If you answer "yes", the changes are saved back to your USB key in the form of an overlay file which is unioned (aufs) with the original FaunOS image at next system startup. So one USB write per boot. These overlay files are also clearly marked so you can back track to a previously saved session. Another way to describe this is FaunOS supports root file system image snap shots.

Besides the session saves you can access and write any local hard drive from the "Storage Media" icon on the desktop.

I think you'll find many more features that are unique to FaunOS.

Glad your trying out FaunOS. We'll happily answer any questions you have on our forums.

Raymano

Last edited by raymano (2007-06-12 01:00:56)


FaunOS: Live USB/DVD Linux Distro: http://www.faunos.com

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#5 2007-06-12 04:02:03

lilsirecho
Veteran
Registered: 2003-10-24
Posts: 5,000

Re: Portable Arch on external USB (video detection)

I have FaunOS booting with 2GB of flash which is a great plenty...have provided a partition with 500MB of space to add  new material via session save.

Works like a charm!


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