Version 9 (modified by Joseph F. Miklojcik III, 14 years ago) ( diff )

Soekris net4801 hardware

There are no linux nor BSD drivers for the vpn1411 device we had hoped to use.

On the other hand, all five ethernet (NatSemi) devices are fully supported pretty much everywhere.

connect a console

Get a linux laptop with a serial port. Connect the Soekris serial port to it using a crossover serial cable. There are a billion of these, unused, floating around ORBIT. They have "X OVER" written on them.

Run minicom in a terminal window that can handle vt102 (any of them can). Minicom should be set for 9600 baud, 8 databits, no parity, 1 stop bit, no flow control. Turn hardware flow control off in minicom. The UNIX device for talking to the console is almost certainly /dev/ttyS0.

configure the Soekris net4801 BIOS

Look at the banner from when the net4801 boots. Get the BIOS version and check it against the Soekris web site.

Hit C-p as it is booting to get to a BIOS prompt.

Issue these commands at the BIOS prompt, filling in today's date and the current time.


time HH:MM:SS

set ConSpeed=9600

The only reliable way to obtain the MAC address of 'Eth 0', without having an operating system already loaded, is to watch the diagnostic output of

boot f0

net install

The netboot image for debian is already around. You need


as opposed to the pxelinux.bin that's already around. You need to make a link in pxelinux.cfg to an appropriate pxelinux configuration file, namely the one for serial. To the end of the 'install' image you want to add:


(we did this, so it's probably already there.)

We tried this in several different ways with a remarkable number of pre-compiled pxelinux.0 files, but the net install could never find the CF disk. Eventually we gave up and moved to pre-loading the CF.

Voyage Linux

Voyage Linux is Debian with enough removed so it will fit in 64Mb.

The "Kingston Elite Pro" CF card is reported by the 4801 as

Pri Sla SAMSUNG CF/ATA LBA Xlt 1012-32-63

The SimpleTech CF card is

Pri Mas Hitachi XX.V. LBA 993-16-63

The Kingston has an extremely different geometry when connected to my laptop through an IOMEGA USB media adapter. Nor can I adjust the reported geometry in fdisk. So you can't use it to hold bootable images. I have no idea why the Kingston shows up as a slave.

Get the tarball, untar it on your linux laptop as root like this:

sudo tar —numeric-owner -zxvf voyage-0.2pre4.tar.gz

Attach the CF card. If it gets automounted, unmount it. Cd into the untarred directory and run voyage.update as root. The CF card is likely to be /dev/sdb. On an Ubuntu box you can use /media/usbdisk as the mount point. When this finishes, move the CF card into the Soekris net4801, and reboot it.

LILO may be less than perfect at

Log in as root. The default root password is, predictably, 'voyage'. Voyage linux tries to be cute by mounting everything read only, so you need to remount the root partition as read write, like this:

mount -o remount,rw /

Now you can and should change the root password.

Change /etc/rc2.d/S99voyage so that the commands that keep remounting / ro are disabled.


apt-get update

apt-get upgrade

as usual.

PPP/SSH client configuration

General instructions can be found at

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