Finnix 111 released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Finnix 111 includes support for the ARM architecture, OverlayFS support, as well as other features and bugfixes.

ARM support

Finnix 111 introduces support for the ARM (armhf) architecture, in addition to existing x86 and PowerPC archicture support. Finnix 111 for ARM is currently classified as a "technology preview", and primarily targets the Versatile Express A9 platform, as emulated by QEMU. This makes it easy to download and test via QEMU on a standard PC without special hardware.

Additional platforms are planned for the future. Finnix for ARM has been successfully tested on the Raspberry Pi 2, when combined with Raspberry Pi firmware and a custom kernel.

OverlayFS support

Finnix 111 includes Linux kernel 4.0, which includes OverlayFS functionality. Previous Finnix releases used AUFS to overlay a ramdisk on top of a compressed root filesystem, but required a kernel patch, as AUFS is not in the upstream Linux kernel. Finnix 111 now uses OverlayFS directly, which means that special (non-upstream) kernel functionality is no longer required in Finnix kernels. This will help VPS providers better integrate Finnix into their platforms, and will make kernel maintenance easier for future releases.

Finnix 110 released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. I am pleased to announce the release of Finnix 110, which includes Linux kernel 3.13, updated Debian upstream software, bug fixes and feature enhancements.

Finnix 109 released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Finnix 109 includes a number of new features and bug fixes. Linux kernel 3.10 is included, USB 3.0 boot support has been fixed, PowerPC G5 automatic fan / thermal control has been implemented, and "nomodeset" is now passed by default, increasing boot compatibility on many Radeon graphics cards.

Minimal build support added to Project NEALE

Project NEALE, the system to build Finnix releases, has been extended with a new "minimal" mode. This mode builds an ISO with just enough software to start up and shut down, and excludes the hundreds of sysadmin utilities found on a normal Finnix ISO. Remasterers and developers may use this as a base for their own software and utilities, rather than basing on full Finnix releases. For more information, please see the Project NEALE page.

Finnix 108 released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Today I am pleased to announce the release of Finnix 108, which includes Linux kernel 3.8, updated Debian upstream software, bug fixes and minor feature enhancements.

Note that Finnix 108 was frozen shortly before Debian 7.0 wheezy was released, so the userland is effectively based on Debian stable for this release.

Finnix 108 to be released May 9

Next Thursday, May 9, Finnix 108 will be released. Finnix 108 will include Linux kernel 3.8, bug fixes and minor feature enhancements. I am experimenting with a time-based development model, and while the frequency details have not yet been finalized, this model does allow me to announce releases ahead of time.

As a reminder, Finnix releases are available several days ahead of the official release date, through BitTorrent. If you would like to get Finnix 108 as soon as possible, please see the Finnix BitTorrent page for information on how to follow the release RSS seeder feeds.

Finnix 107 released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Today I am pleased to announce the release of Finnix 107, only two months from the previous release, but packed with new functionality and bug fixes.

Linux 3.6

Finnix 107 includes Linux kernel 3.6, and includes a fix for the (overhyped, it seems) ext4 corruption bug.

Faster startup, faster shutdown

Average Finnix startup times have been reduced even further by the cleanup of legacy code. In addition, the shutdown procedure, which largely has not changed in years, got a revamp and is now noticeably quicker.

isohybrid support included

The x86 ISO is now being built with the isohybrid method, meaning you can now write the ISO directly to a USB flash drive at the block level to boot it.

findiso support added, grub-finnix utility released

Finnix 107 includes support for searching for and mounting a Finnix ISO on a filesystem (findiso=/path/to/finnix-107.iso). This can be used to create a GRUB 2 configuration on a server/workstation to boot a Finnix ISO directly. To that end, I have released a utility for Debian/Ubuntu, grub-finnix, which hooks into the update-grub2 system to automatically handle building the necessary GRUB 2 config.

finnix-hwsubmit redesigned

The finnix-hwsubmit utility has been completely redesigned. The report format is now in a standardized machine-parsable yet easy to read format (MIME), you will be given a URL of the submitted report, and you can choose to make the report public. Public reports are available at

New utilities included

A number of new packages have been included with Finnix 107, including: arping, bridge-utils, chntpw, cmospwd, ifenslave-2.6, sshfs, testdisk, udftools, zerofree. iPXE has also been added to the main x86 boot menu.

Finnix development update

About two weeks ago, I had surgery for a somewhat serious injury. The weeks leading up to and since the surgery have given me a lot of time to work on personal projects (for the weeks before the surgery I was on strong painkillers which messed up my sleep, often keeping me up in the middle of the night, and the weeks since have been in recovery), which let me get Finnix 106 out the door earlier this week.

It has also given me time to make some long-desired architectural changes to the development environment, beginning with Project NEALE during the Finnix 105 development cycle. Here is a short update of what's changed lately.

As part of Project NEALE, all components of Finnix not contained in the compressed root (the CD layout, initrd, kernel and miscellaneous files) are now stored in udeb packages (neale-master, neale-initrd, neale-kernel and neale-stuff, respectively), which are extracted as part of build-neale. The method is slightly unusual; for example, the neale-kernel and neale-initrd source packages contain sources, as well as pre-built binaries for all supported architectures. But the net effect is all non-Debian sources are now contained in packages at If you need the sources for a Finnix kernel from 106 onwards, grab the source package for neal-kernel.

Through Project NEALE, Finnix now has support for building ISOs with AMD64 userlands. While Finnix will not be releasing an official ISO with an AMD64 userland (for reasons explained on the Project NEALE wiki page), it is a testament to the versatility and abstraction that NEALE allows versus the old, manual method of assembling releases.

Packaging for all Finnix packages are now being managed in version control via bzr on Launchpad. I sent a mail to the debian-derivatives list recently, detailing my experiences in undertaking this.

The archive at is managed by a tool called reprepro, a mid-end system for managing Debian-style apt repositories. I have written a plugin for reprepro, which takes source uploads, scans for changelog entries with "LP: #12345" (the same format Ubuntu uses), and will update the corresponding bug's status, add an "archive-fixed" tag, and add a comment with a copy of the .changes file. This is similar to what both Debian and Ubuntu do on their respective bug tracking systems.

And example of a recent Finnix bug fixed by a source upload is here. Originally the plugin was specific to Finnix, but I have expanded it to be a general purpose tool. So if you manage an apt repository with reprepro and also use Launchpad for bug tracking, this tool may be of use to you.

Finnix 106 released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Today I am pleased to announce the release of Finnix 106, which contains an important kernel update as well as minor fixes and improvements.

Linux 3.5

Finnix 106 includes Linux kernel 3.5, and notably fixes a major bug observed in Finnix 105 where booting would freeze if the system's disk included an extended partition.

Project NEALE released

With Finnix 105, Project NEALE [] was announced -- an effort to build Finnix releases in a completely automated and normalized way. Finnix 105 was the first release to be produced with NEALE, but the build infrastructure was not available to the public at the time. For Finnix 106, the build infrastructure has been finished and released to the public.

Finnix 105 released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. I am pleased to announce the release of Finnix 105, a major architectural update to the Finnix series. Finnix 105 brings major organizational changes to the build and boot systems, along with the usual assortment of software updates.

Announcing Project NEALE

Until Finnix 105, each Finnix release had been produced by hand, essentially a remaster of the previous release. This allowed for rapid development and testing, but also allowed for individual mistakes, filesystem bloat, and trouble tracking upstream Debian packages.

Finnix 105 is the first Finnix release to be produced under Project NEALE (Normalized Extraction and Assembly of LiveCD Environments), a new set of procedures to build Finnix CDs from a minimal base Debian bootstrap. All base Finnix configuration is done via deb packages, including two new packages, finnix-base and finnix-standard, which depend on all the other software packages which normally go into a Finnix release. This allows for a consistent build process each time, and between architectures. It also allows for more future options, such as a native userland AMD64 release.

Due to the new portable nature of NEALE builds, incrementing build numbers have been retired (over 3000 builds have been produced in the last 7 years!). There are still a few rough edges regarding this transition, which will be ironed out over the next release cycle. The base build system is not yet ready for public consumption, but will be released to the public when it is. Remastering via the finnix-build-stage{1,2} scripts will continue to be supported (indeed, once the base bootstrap is completed, the build stage scripts are still called to prepare and master the ISOs).

sysvinit replaced with runit

sysvinit, the classic userland init system -- the first process run as part of the main userland, responsible for running startup scripts and entering shutdown on command -- has been replaced with runit, a minimal init system. Due to the nature of Finnix's boot process, a statically-compiled init is needed. A manually-compiled sysvinit binary was previously provided for this purpose, and would often fall out of sync with the userland tools. However, runit's init binary is statically-compiled by design, requiring no alterations, and is much smaller, requiring less memory. runit's core operation is radically different than sysvinit, but its integration into Finnix has been designed to be as similar to previous sysvinit-run releases as possible, and should be transparent to the user.

New archive management system, new GPG keys

Previous Finnix deb packages were managed in a manual repository, and the repository and releases were signed by Ryan Finnie's personal GPG key. Project NEALE required a more organized repository setup, prompting the creation of, managed by reprepro. In addition, Finnix-specific GPG keys have been created for use within Finnix. Release ISOs are now signed by Finnix Release Signing Key (4356E6C2), and repositories under are signed by Finnix Archive Signing Key (A89BA58D). Both new keys are signed by Finnix Signing Key (0897797F), which in turn is signed by both Ryan Finnie (203ECA25) (the old key used for Finnix signing) and Ryan Finnie (86AE8D98) (Ryan's new personal key), maintaining the web of trust. 203ECA25 is due to be retired and revoked after the release of Finnix 105.

Linux 3.4

Finnix 105 includes Linux 3.4, using kernel configurations based closely on Debian's Linux 3.4 sources.

April Fools

Yes, yesterday's announcement was an April Fools joke, but I am humbled that enough people were convinced I could sell my company to a Fortune 500 company.

For background, the funny part is Finnix really is a product of Velociraptor Aerospace Dynamics, a sole proprietorship consulting company I set up in 2011. This is mainly to make taxes easier; VAD owns the Finnix domains, pays the bills and takes the donations, at least on paper. But organizationally, it's still mostly a personal project of mine.

(The company name is an in-joke, with a secondary goal of eventually getting Department of Defense contracts based on the name alone. The company logo is a raptor riding a bomb, Slim Pickens style.)