OpenBSD Journal

Soekris on OpenBSD Running Diskless

Contributed by jose on from the small-harware dept.

As seen on the soekris-tech list, there are some docs on how to get OpenBSD up and running on a Soekris system. As stated on the page:
"The goal of this project was to build a OpenBSD image that ran diskless on my NET4801 Soekris box. After doing some researching, I found the flashdist and OpenSoekris scripts. They initially seemed like the right tools but unfortunately, both made assumptions about configuration files and did not give me enough fine grained control over the installation process."
You can find the instructions on this website: .

(Comments are closed)

  1. By Anonymous Coward () on

    Great work; I have been wanting to do something like this for a while. One problem I am having is finding suitable hardware. Purpose is to use it in an existing environment as a log host.

    Basically, what I want is (sourced in the UK) a lower spec than soekris; must be max 200mhz, 100mb LAN, serial, 64mb ram, CF, and IDE. Trying to find a PC/104 style board at the low price end and has been difficult. Preferably 3.5' or lower (2.5' would be ideal) form factor. Low power consumption.

    Recommended vendors / suppliers highly appreciated.

    1. By Ondrej () on

      Check out VIA EPIA. You can load it with fanless power supply, CD-IDE reduction and CF card to build low-power, no-noise computer similar to Soekris for slightly lower price (depends on VIA model and other hardware you use).

      Compared to Soekris you can have difficulties equipping it with extra hardware, because most VIA EPIA boards have just one on-board network card and one PCI slot (however look for 1-2 PCI riser card). Besides, it doesn't have the cool look of Soekris.

      1. By Ondrej () on

        "CD-IDE reduction" should read "CF-IDE reduction", obviously.

      2. By Brian () on

        > Besides, it doesn't have the cool look of Soekris.

        The ugly ass green paint? :)

      3. By MotleyFool () on

        problem with the VIA mini-itx form factor is they don't have serial console support in the BIOS. You have to have a keyboard and monitor attached to it during system build and if there are ever any boot problems down the road.

        that's why I'm waiting for my Pegasos 2 board to arrive.

      4. By sthen () on

        Unfortunately, the ethernet controllers on EPIA are VIA Rhine (how is the log-sender going to know that her UDP syslog packets coincided with "vr0: Using force reset command"...) You will want to at least use if_vr and if_vrreg from -current, and even then I'm not sure if I'd want to trust that NIC for logging.

        (For fairness, I should also mention that the drivers for the onboard ethernet on Soekris also need patching with certain cable lengths, some patch is already in the kernel, but see the soekris-tech archives for a better one).

        Not really relevant to syslogging, but maybe for other applications, be aware that the FPU on any but the Nehemiah EPIAs is rather slow for the clock speed.

    2. By Wim Vandeputte () on

      What are you looking for lower spec? For lower price? For lower power consumption?

      PC/104 boards are going to be a lot more expensive, as all the extentions you mention are extra boards you need to add.

      The Soekris 4801 is the only one with IDE, I guess you want that for storing logs? (CF has a limited write-life).

      Form factor in box is 22 cm x 16 cm x 3.5 cm, but the board itself is smaller, only 15 x 15 x 2 cm

      As for sourced in the UK, you can get on shipped (from Belgium) to UK for EUR 15.

    3. By Nate () on

      I've done a bunch of work with this form factor. Ended up testing out Soekris stuff, and it was great, but not quite powerful enough for our needs. Looked into pc/104 problem with that was cost, everything is a add-on card, and it was next to impossible to find a add-on card with 2 10/100 nics for less then $150-200. The vendor we liked is called Aaeon. Check out some of their boards, they have 2 nics, low power (VIA processor) and can be up to 1ghz, plus have usb, ide and CF. Best of luck

    4. By djm () on

      You have given a higher spec than most of the Soekris boxes. Most of them are <200mhz and don't support IDE.

    5. By SipherHex () on

      Check out the WRAP board at it's from Switzerland, so close on that count. And I think you'll like the price at a bit over $100

  2. By Clueless () on

    This is exactly what I was just about to start looking into, on the exact same hardware :).

    I played with both OpenSoekris (, which also uses flashdist, and m0n0wall ( which uses FreeBSD as the base, but neither of them met my personal needs for one reason or another.

  3. By Anonymous Coward () on

    The documentation is welcome.

  4. By sthen () on

    Sounds like a good place to mention that the net4801 works better under OpenBSD if machdep.c is patched to turn off the TSC for the Geode processor.

    Also only 64mb RAM is found unless "machine mem +0x4000000@0x4000000" is written in /etc/boot.conf.

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