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[Axiom-developer] Axiom on Zaurus SL-6000 under Debian - success!

From: Bill Page
Subject: [Axiom-developer] Axiom on Zaurus SL-6000 under Debian - success!
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2004 15:55:46 -0400

With the help of Camm and Michael I have finally succeeded
in building Axiom on Zaurus! Needless to say, it actually
turned out to be really much easier than the path I took.

The problem in the end was just MEMORY - swap memory to
be specific. I considered the options to use nfs or an
external usb disk drive, but in the end I decided just to
put the swap on a compact flash card. This was something
that was not highly recommended in the Zaurus forums, but
it is working great for me.

So what I have is this:

  Zaurus SL-6000
    (the older ZL-5600 would also probably work)
  1 Gbyte. SD memory card
  256 Mbyte Ultra II CF memory card

The Ultra II is a new faster (10 Mbyte/sec) version of CF
that also uses less power.

If you think that a Gbyte is more than enough beware that
what you want to do with this machine will probably change
as you learn more about it. Larger SD and CF cards are
already available. By Christmas 2 Gbyte SD and 4 Gbyte CF
ultra cards might well be available for what I paid for
the above.

Debian and the entire development environment is on the
SD card and nearly fills it. 128 Mbyte of the CF card is
dedicated to swap space. But that is considerable overkill
since the swap space never exceeded about 15 Mbytes during
the build even though I was periodically using other programs
simultaneously on the Zaurus.

The CF card is by default (off-the-shelf) formatted as
a VFAT partition (Windows compatible). I know that unix
people would probably advise reformatting it as an ext2
unix file system. I had to use ext2 on the SD card for
debian itself. But, pleasant surprize, running a swap
file on VFAT seems to work. If it is more inefficient than
ext2, then I can't really tell because CF is pretty slow
anyway. I created the swap file with the command

      dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/cf/swap.img bs=1M count=128
      mkswap /mnt/cf/swap.img

The commands that I added to the unix rc5.d startup just

      swapon /mnt/cf/swap.img

The only changes that I made to the Axiom build was to
use --endable-locbfd and --enable-holepage=4*1024 in the
initial GCL build. Then actually allows GCL to fit within
the available real memory of the Zaurus without swapping.
I cannot really say how much this small hole size affected
the build time but I think that because swapping to CF is
likely to be considerably slower than garbage collection
in ram, I think this is probably a good compromise.
Overall I would say that the total build time was probably
about twice as long as it was the first time I ever built
Axiom which was on a 266 MHz pc.

Anyway, none of this re-building was really necessary! All
that was needed was just to add a little swap space. Now
the debian arm binary runs fine. All I had to do was

  apt-get install gcl

and it works! The same is true of Axiom

  apt-get install axiom

Wonderful (of course it took me four days to get to say
that  :) ...

Perhaps it is good to know that *if* one really needed too,
it would be possible to re-build Axiom stand alone on the
Zaurus. Actually with swap space allocated, it runs quite
well in the background and does not interfere (much) with
the PDA functions (email, calendar, etc.) of the normal
Zaurus desktop. All you need is patience and a power supply.

A have to say again that I am really impressed by the
Zaurus SL-6000. It has taken me a few months to realize
that it really is like having a Linux desktop workstation
in your pocket.

It even comes with a X-window system that lets you run
all X apps locally and/or from an external PC using VNC
via wireless or usb connection. It's fast. There is a nice
minimal windowing system called 'iceWM' but if you are
really crazy nothing would stop you from added KDE or
GNOME. Simply amazing (and terribly addictive if you have
any geek tendencies at all).

Bill Page.

On Tuesday, October 12, 2004 9:41 AM Camm Maguire
address@hidden wrote:
> I've heard one can also do this using the network block
> device, aka. NBD, but do not (yet) have direct experience
> myself.  It is said to be more reliable.
> Michael Koehne <address@hidden> writes:
> > Moin Bill & Camm,
> > 
> > > > Wondering if you can just setup a swapfile over nfs
> > > > to see if the default binary will work for you.
> > 
> > > I am willing to try but I have never done this.
> > 
> >   swap over nfs is not trivial.
> >   The usual trick is to wrap a loop device around the swapfile :
> > 
> >   on server :
> >       dd if=/dev/zero of=/export/zaurus/swap.img bs=1m count=128
> >       mkswap /export/zaurus/swap.img
> >   on zaurus :
> >       mount -t nfs server:/export/zaurus /mnt
> >       /sbin/losetup /dev/loop0 /mnt/swap.img
> >       /sbin/swapon /dev/loop0
> >   to umount :
> >       /sbin/swapoff /dev/loop0
> >       /sbin/losetup -d /dev/loop0
> >       umount /mnt
> > 

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