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Free, from-scratch embedded Linux distro resurfaces

Apr 26, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

An embedded Linux distribution aimed at helping users learn Linux by creating bootable Linux images “virtually from scratch” has achieved a new release following several years of relative obscurity. Eagle Linux 2.3 is currently distributed as a concise, 26-page PDF documenting the creation of a minimalist, network-ready Linux image for bootable CDs, floppies, or flash drives.

Eagle Linux is maintained by Michael P. Angelo, who some may recall from his days at LinuxCare, a startup that employed many top open source contributors in the late 90s. The Eagle Linux project is hosted by SafeDesk Solutions, a small Linux thin-client software vendor.

Angelo states, “With many companies turning to Linux as an embedded OS solution, there is a growing need for in-house and remote embedded Linux training. Eagle Linux is invaluable in assisting instructors in teaching embedded and distribution design methods in Linux.”

Additionally, Eagle Linux can be used by instructors to create and store “structured bootable courseware curriculi,” Angelo says. Others may find it handy for creating dedicated server, router, multimedia system, recovery tool, and marketing data disk images, he says.

Eagle Linux flies again

The new 2.3 release of Eagle Linux includes updates to support newer versions of busybox, and the Linux kernel. It uses the ISOLINUX bootloader, without floppy emulation, to save space; however, this approach may not be usable on pre-Pentium 166 or so systems that tend to have “El Torito” CD drives.

The Eagle Linux documentation explains how to create an initial ramdisk image, kernel, and minimalist root filesystem based on Debian “Sarge.” One noteworthy feature is that the root filesystem occupies less than 4MB, uncompressed. Lack of compression adds speed, while the small size minimizes RAM requirements, and leaves lots of room on business-card CDs or small flash memory cards for the /usr partition and user-installed software.

A forthcoming version of Eagle Linux, 3.0, will add a small GUI. The project is evaluating various framebuffers and GUI packages, and has invited developer feedback and involvement. Additionally, the project is looking for testers to help test a forthcoming downloadable ISO image version of the 2.3 release.

Angelo notes, “Linux has seen a dramatic increase in popularity due, in large part, to its open source nature. Eagle Linux provides, in full open source fashion, an easy to understand means to achieve immediate success in Linux distribution design.”

Phil Autrey, CEO of SafeDesk, stated, “By hosting and supporting Eagle Linux, we not only are able to give back to the open-source community which is so vital to what we do as an organization, but help provide valuable training tools for others interested in becoming involved.”


Eagle Linux is available now. Additional details, including PDF downloads and ISO downloads of older releases, can be found here.

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