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Thu, 05 Feb 2009

initramfs-tools new Lenny features

initramfs-tools design principle is to ship a generic initramfs. The design explicitly allows lots of customization through hook and boot scripts. A previous post focused on the history of initramfs-tools. Several contributors enhanced initramfs-tools since the Debian Etch release so the non exclusive new feature list:

  • The initramfs contains all drivers/{ata,block,ide,mmc,scsi} modules instead of a stupid hard coded list. This gives bonus points for getting more future proof.
  • Configurable small initramfs: The MODULES=dep mode walks /sys/ for the needed drivers of the specific box. This was the most wanted feature and is the new default for some Debian-Installer embedded architectures. The code seems in between well tested even if some corner cases might still emerge. The smaller initramfs is needed for specific bootloaders and helps on slow target boxes.
    For a even smaller initramfs you can kick busybox if you don't have an lvm2 root or don't need it's debugging tools.
  • Quicker initramfs build: The update-initramfs command uses dpkg trigger and thus not every postinst update-initramfs(8) call leads to a new initramfs build. Also the build time got improved.
  • Improved panic message (yes users need to be handhold at this point :).
  • Potential debug log is visible after call to init(8) inside /dev/.initramfs/.
  • update-initramfs got hardened against failure on update or ro partitons.
  • The klibc utilities got worked on: chroot, fstype, ipconfig, mount, nfsmount sync.
  • Fixed various bugs in NFS and networking setup due to incorrect option parsing.
  • Allow to blacklist modules on boot by cmdline bootarg blacklist=modulename.
  • Allow non root usage of mkinitramfs.

As bonus to some cleanup and docs update we have also seen a Ubuntu sync and are not too diverged.

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