OpenBSD Journal

Open (or any) BSD on a business card?

Contributed by jose on from the ramdisk dept.

Yiorgos writes :
"I just bought these Company cards from Verbatim. These are CD-Rs that have a capacity of 30MB.

I am wondering whether it is possible to build a BSD system a la Linux-BB that boots from the business card. Any ideas?"

I haven't seen much data on building ramdisk systems for the general masses. Anyone want to share a recipe, a la PicoBSD ? How about a system that lets you boot almost anywhere (boot time config)? Even better, some of the better tools to carry around? I saw a lot of Linux systems do this, why hasn't someone made a popular OpenBSD system like this?

(Comments are closed)

  1. By SKULL () on

    Although toorcon wasn't very openbsd-centric, they gave out these cd's for their speakers talks (mostly ug powerpoint files). They are pretty neat
    little disks. (San Diego beats Las Vegas by far btw).

    Maybe Peter Hessler's openbsd-firewall-on-a-floppy
    thing is close?

  2. By RC () on

    Create a ~30MB partition, install the pieces of OpenBSD you want (perhaps emBSD, ClosedBSD, etc), then create a ramdisk, and union mount the fs with the ramdisk. Then you could mount the partitions RO to test the thing. After that, you just burn the whole thing to CD.

    Personally, I wouldn't bother. The generic boot floppy has always worked for repairs, and I find the whole "distro on a CD" idea to be a complete waste... Just some geeky thing for showing off... Like a webserver on a toaster.

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      > Like a webserver on a toaster.

      "Why not?"

      (sorry, could not resist :)

    2. By Anonymous Coward () on

      I built one of these live cds specifically to handle cases the standard boot floppy/cd wouldn't cover, for example, rescuing raidframe systems (with root on raid). It's also nice to have all the usual utilities (eg vi), man pages, compilers etc on a rescue cd.

      Another use was to use the tape drive on a windows box for some network backups using dump.

  3. By Jedi/Sector One () on

    MicroBSD will fit with no trouble.

  4. By Pooh () on

    I've builded a custom NetBSD 1.5.2 some months ago:

    - Remove all IPv6 related code (in fact, I just #ifdef INET6) and removed all userspace apps concerning IPv6.
    - Build everything shared (LDSTATIC=''), only /usr/libexec/ was builded static.
    - Removed all YP/NIS, KRB[45], SKEY, IPSec/ISAKMP apps/code (again #ifdef [something])
    - All man pages stored in /usr/share/man/man* in .bz2 format and man config adapted for that. /usr/share/man/cat* removed (man is slower, no preformated result).
    - /usr/share/[doc,misc] cleaned
    - many other things I don't remember anymore

    Everything fitted into less than 50Mb for NetBSD/macppc, including GCC (but I removed C++ support). Take in count that for i386 arch, binaries are 10-25% smaller than on PPC.

    If this isn't enough, use crunch binaries (look crunchgen man page). Like /sbin/init could contain many apps used at boot-time, but not in multi-user. Crunch binaries are smaller than total of all single binaries size.

    You could included everything into a MD ramdisk built-in the kernel. I expect it to be less than 30Mb easy.

    And the kernel could be stored in .gz format, the loader will ungzip it before running.

    A impressive NetBSD system could be built: with a good number of console apps (mutt, links) included with it, that will fit on your card.

    I tried to do the same thing with OpenBSD and FreeBSD, but all IPv6 references, YP/NIS, etc are more tight into the code than NetBSD, I didn't manage to do the same thing. It need too much changes in code.

    I may still had the code somewhere, but not sure. And I never took the courage to submit my changes to

  5. By Anonymous Coward () on

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      1. By Anonymous Coward () on

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  6. By Anonymous Coward () on

    In a related topic, has anyone built a CD bootable system that is entirely ram disk based? Some times I would rather boot into OpenBSD, but can't put it on a partition on that machine. The cd bsd.rd works, but doesn't have ssh or some sort of browser, or nc or tcpdump.

    Of course you lose everything when you reboot, but sometimes you just want the right tool for the job.

    If the official CD came with the install kernel and a run-from-ramdisk kernel, I promise I would buy (of have work buy) 10 copies of each release. It would be that useful.

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      Built your own... it'll fit on 30 MB. My wallet CD weight 19 MB so.

      1. By Anonymous Coward () on

        That was the whole point of this article; we each have our own favorite bits of software that we want to make into custom bootable CD's for when we go onsite and want to do hardware or network analysis. The thing is, HOW do we do this?

        How do we make a ramdisk? How do we munge the kernel of our choice together with the root filesystem image of our choice, and put them on a CDROM correctly? This is something crying out for a tutorial/howto document.

    2. By _azure () on

      Lots of folks have built firewall machines that are completely CD based (no hard drive). There was a story here on about the topic a few months ago.

    3. By Anonymous Coward () on

      > I promise I would buy (of have work buy) 10
      > copies of each release. It would be that useful.

      Or, maybe, you're lying your ass off, trying to convince someone else to put some work into that project, so you can just leech it off of FTP, and not actually pay a cent.

      1. By Anonymous Coward () on

        Gee, Theo expects us to trust him to develop and burn the best that he can. You can say what you will but consider I have had our office buy:

        OpenBSD 2.3 - 1 copy
        OpenBSD 2.4 - 3 copies
        OpenBSD 2.5 - 5 copies
        OpenBSD 2.6 - 8 copies
        OpenBSD 2.7 - 10 copies
        OpenBSD 2.8 - 10 copies
        OpenBSD 2.9 - 10 copies
        OpenBSD 3.0 - 12 copies
        OpenBSD 3.1 - 10 copies (budget cuts and all)

        See, it is easy to buy loads of copies when they are inexpensive compared to other operating systems. My boss likes it that it works, I get to support the project. What do you do? Buy every other one? Or leech?

  7. By Tim () on

    I have built and used an openbsd install (i386) cd on one of these cds. The entire base set and iirc ports.tar.gz fits on the cd. I can put the bootable iso online someplace if people actually want to use this.

    1. By RC () on

      Sure does. I never ended up using a mini CD though, since the install + source is too large, and full-size CDs are cheaper anyhow.


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