State of the Finnix

Reposting an email I sent recently:

Yes, I started a few weeks ago after a (too long) hiatus. 2.6.30 kernel, which is looking nice. (SquashFS is now included in mainline. That means UnionFS is now the only kernel patch that is absolutely required.) The latest Debian testing stuff itself is pretty stable, but managed to break pretty much all of Finnix's init scripts in one way or another, but it's coming along. Unfortunately Debian's base packages are a little larger, and the kernels have ballooned between 2.6.26 and 2.6.30, so this will probably be the largest Finnix to date, about 125MiB for x86 at current estimates. It's still well under Finnix's long term goals (never to exceed 185MiB, the size of a mini-CD), but unfortunately there really isn't anything to trim.

Still, I'm happy with what the next release is shaping up to be. Looks good!

Finnix in Second Life

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That's right, Finnix now has a home in Second Life. This was mostly used as an excuse to learn the build system. While, personally, Second Life was rather boring from a "visitor's" point of view (I think I initially signed on about 3 years ago, and came back to visit a few times per year), I quickly learned that owning land and building was actually the fun part. So on with the tour...
Continue reading Finnix in Second Life

Finnix 92.1 released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Today marks the release of version 92.1 for the x86/AMD64, PowerPC, and UML/Xen platforms.

Finnix 92.1 is a regular maintenance release. New features include Linux kernel 2.6.26, updated upstream software, and x86 boot menu cleanups.

Finnix 92.1 soon...

... or the "I waited 5 months for this?" release.

Hopefully a release announcement will be made tomorrow; otherwise it will be next week, as I will be on vacation for the Thanksgiving holiday. Finnix 92.1 will be a maintenance release, with a dist-upgraded environment, a "new" kernel, 2.6.26 (2.6.27 has not yet entered Debian due to the Lenny freeze, and I didn't deem it important enough to break with procedure and use a vanilla kernel this time around), and a few small fixes.

Also, a little teaser: This will not be released with Finnix 92.1 -- it will be sometime after release -- but I will be announcing Finnix on a new architecture. Which one? It's a secret... One hint is it is an architecture I have discussed in relation to Finnix before.

(No, it's not that iPod April Fools port from 2006.)

Finnix 92.0 Released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Today marks the release of version 92.0 for the x86/AMD64, PowerPC, and UML/Xen platforms.

Finnix 92.0 includes updated software (including a fix for the Debian OpenSSL security vulnerability), a Linux 2.6.25 kernel, and a new, graphical boot menu.

Finnix 92.0 coming soon

Finnix 92.0 will be released soon. It will have a new 2.6.25 kernel, updated software, and, most visibly, a new boot menu.

There have been suggestions for a new boot menu for awhile now. I liked the idea in theory, but there were various problems with most implementations (no graphics; graphics, but no fallback to text mode; no easy way to add boot options, such as toram, testcd, etc; no way to default to 64-bit boot options). Debian's recent announcement of debian-installer for lenny beta 2 introduced a new installer boot menu system based on bootmenu.c32, which looked very nice and solved most of the problems I mentioned. However, no default 64-bit option on multi-arch CDs, which the announcement mentioned and lamented.

I used Debian's configs as a base for a Finnix test. The results were very nice, and I was ready to do as Debian did and accept that the improvements were worth the loss of 64-bit autodetection. However, an acquaintance encouraged me to look into it ("Sounds like it's time for some OPEN SOURCE MAGIC"), and within a few hours, I had a working patch.

The debian-installer guys loved it and had the patch applied within an hour, and as well, it will be in Finnix 92.0. Here's a development screenshot:

Finnix and Debian's OpenSSL Vulnerability

All versions of Finnix from 89.0 to 91.1 (inclusive) contain the Debian OpenSSL predictable RNG vulnerability. The fix will be included with the next scheduled (approximately quarterly) release of Finnix in the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you use any OpenSSL-related programs (openssl itself, ssh, openvpn, etc) on Finnix, be sure to do the following as soon as you boot Finnix:

apt-get update && apt-get install libssl0.9.8

Finnix does not include any pre-generated keys, but any keys generated on Finnix with a vulnerable OpenSSL will be vulnerable.

Finnix 91.1 Released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Today marks the release of version 91.1 for the x86/AMD64, PowerPC, and UML/Xen platforms.

Finnix 91.1 is a bugfix and maintenance release. Memtest86+ has been upgraded to 2.01, software RAID autodetection has been fixed, and finnix-thumbdrive has been fixed with udev support and support for drives over 1GB.

Finnix 91.1 also incudes an updated 2.6.24 kernel with the Linux vmsplice exploit fixed. If you use Finnix in any environment where untrusted users are allowed local access, please do not use Finnix 88.0 - 91.0, as these versions contain vulnerable kernels.

Finnix 91.0 Released

Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Today marks the release of version 91.0 for the x86/AMD64, PowerPC, and UML/Xen platforms.

Finnix 91.0 includes a new Linux kernel (2.6.24), automatic 32-bit/64-bit detection on the x86 platform, stackable RAID/LUKS/LVM detection and setup, and several bug fixes.

Automatic 32-bit/64-bit detection (x86)

If you press "enter" at the boot screen of Finnix 91.0 x86, the boot loader will now detect if you have a 64-bit capable CPU, and will load the appropriate kernel. You can still force 32-bit or 64-bit by entering the "finnix" or "finnix64" boot profiles. Note that this is for the x86 Finnix CD only; PowerPC G5 users will still have to enter the "finnix64" boot profile manually, as the yaboot boot loader does not have this capability.

Stackable RAID/LUKS/LVM

While RAID, LUKS (encryption) and LVM detection have been in Finnix for awhile now, they were loaded in a certain order, and some configurations were not detected as a result. With Finnix 91.0, most configurations should be detected. For example, an encrypted LVM set on top of two RAID disks should be set up automatically.

Bug fixes

While not a "major new feature", several bug fixes were made for Finnix 91.0, including LVM/LUKS fixes, and multiple-level /dev block device detection corrections.

Finnix 90.0 Released

On October 23, 2005, Finnix 86.0 was released, marking the revival of Finnix. Now, two years and 9 releases later, Finnix 90.0 has been released for the x86/AMD64, PowerPC, and UML/Xen platforms. Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing.

Finnix 90.0 includes a new Linux kernel (2.6.22), faster booting, and the ability to boot from SATA CD-ROM and DVD-ROM devices, as well as updated Debian system software and bug fixes.

New Linux kernel

For the last 3 versions, Finnix has remained at kernel 2.6.18. After much delay, Finnix 90.0 includes Linux 2.6.22. Finnix 90.0's kernel includes support for both UnionFS 2 and AUFS, with UnionFS as the default for stability reasons.

Faster booting

Finnix 90.0 will now boot even quicker, about 8 seconds quicker than Finnix 89.0!

SATA CD-ROM booting

Finnix 90.0 can now be booted using Serial ATA (SATA) CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drives. This is in addition to the many other existing ways to boot Finnix: Parallel ATA CD/DVD drive, SCSI CD/DVD drive, USB thumb drive, hard drive, netboot, or virtualized (User Mode Linux, Xen).