Up to this point I’ve been working with a chroot to build OS images from loop back mounted flat file which is then converted to the vmdk format for testing with virtualbox. I created packages for bpftrace and BCC, BCC was fairly trivial and the availability of a single archive which includes submodules as
bcc-src-with-submodule.tar.gz helped avoiding the need to package libbpf. bpftrace doesn’t offer such an archive and tries to clone the googletest repo which I sidestepped addressing just to obtain the package. Both packages worked ok though I only tested the Python side of BCC and not LuaJit.
With that I wanted to see if what I had would boot on actual hardware, so dd’d the flat file to a usb flash drive and booted it on a Dell Optiplex. Things worked as far as making it to grub but then hit a couple of glitches. First issue was that because of the delay probing the USB bus the kernel needs to be passed the
rootwait keyword that I was missing so it would just panic as no root file system could be found otherwise. After that I hit the issue that I’d nailed things to a specific device node (
sda) and with the other disks in the system the flash drive was now another device node (
sdb). Addressing that got me to the login prompt and I was able to repartition the SSD installed in the system with cfdisk, make a new file system, copy the contents of flash drive to SSD, install grub and reboot to boot the system off the new Linux install.
grub-mkconfig had included references to the GUID of the file system on the flash drive the system landed in the GRUB rescue mode. Since it wasn’t able to load the config nothing is loaded, most importantly, its prefix variable is set incorrectly. This results in a strange behaviour where nothing which would normally work in the GRUB prompt works. Setting the prefix variable to the correct path allows you to load the “normal module” and switch from rescue mode to normal mode.
grub rescue> set prefix=(hd0,msdos1)/boot/grub
grub rescue> insmod normal
grub rescue> normal
Once in normal mode it was possible to boot the system by loading the
ext2 module and pointing the
linux command to the path of the kernel to boot. Re-running
grub-mkconfig once the system was up generated a working config.
With a faster build machine, the next step is to produce a fresh image, address these nits, and start putting things together to share.