Bootable Arch image for Excito B3 updated (v1.6.0)

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Bootable Arch image for Excito B3 updated (v1.6.0)

Postby sakaki » Sat Sep 15, 2018 2:47 pm


Do you own an Excito B3 (an arm5/kirkwood miniserver)?

If so, you may be interested to know that I've just released version 1.6.0 of my live-USB image of Arch Linux for the B3 on GitHub (here). All included packages are up-to-date against the tree, as of 14 September 2018. The kernel supplied on the image is 4.18.7-1-ARCH, and, because the image uses a kexec-based bootloader, will be updated (along with the rest of your packages) to the most recent version available on, each time you run pacman -Syu.

You can burn the supplied image to a USB key (>=4GB, Lexar and SanDisk keys seem the most reliable), then boot your B3 from it, without affecting any installed (Excito) system on your B3's hard drive. (The compressed image is 237MiB; writing takes between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on your system.) You can even boot a diskless B3! No soldering, compilation or U-Boot flashing is required.

The live-USB may then be used as a rescue disk, to play with Arch Linux, or as the starting point to install Arch Linux on your B3's main hard drive. Any packages you install, or other changes you make, while running the live-USB are saved on the USB key, but do not affect your existing Excito system, so you can run Arch for a while, then reboot back into your Excito system and continue to use it as normal, then boot back into the USB at a later date - any changes you made will still be there when you do.

The initial networking setup of the B3 when started from the live-USB is shown below:Image

Connected clients can browse the web etc. since there is a forwarding firewall setup (although login via eth1/WiFi is still possible, even if the eth0 (wan) interface is disconnected, or the wan network does not support DHCP).

Full instructions are provided on the project's GitHub page (including how to install Arch on your B3's internal hard drive too, in case you want to do that).

There's also a sticky thread about this project on the Excito forums here.

Have fun ^-^

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Re: Bootable Arch image for Excito B3 updated (v1.6.0)

Postby WarheadsSE » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:12 pm

You should _really_ not be allowing root login via password out of the box, if ever.
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Re: Bootable Arch image for Excito B3 updated (v1.6.0)

Postby sakaki » Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:42 pm

Hi WarheadsSE,

yes, I take your point, but no-one sane using the image is going to connect their B3 as-is to the open internet with all ports forwarded out of the box... It is clearly called out in the readme that the sshd config should be edited prior to deployment, and that the root password and WiFi passphrase should be changed from their shipped defaults.

Usually, in my experience anyway, these images get used in 'playing around' mode behind a firewall, and then those users who want to do so, go on to buildout / staging for their particular applications, followed by deployment. I'm not sure that requiring people to log in as 'alarm' or whatever and then be able to su to root would add a lot of security during that first phase, where ease of access is the important thing. But for sure, I agree that sshd on a live wan connection requires proper lockdown; certificates only, maybe no root access at all, port knocking etc. if the threat is sufficient. Arch users of a console-based miniserver hopefully are smart enough to get that ^-^

Best, sakaki
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Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2015 1:53 pm

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