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Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2012 12:48:05 +0400
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Re: Customizing Owl to fit in a small sized USB Stick or CF

On Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 07:39:27AM +0000, Zenny wrote:
> On 3/26/12, Solar Designer <> wrote:
> > Gremlin had patches to add a new make target that would generate flash
> > images instead of ISOs.  I think those were primarily intended for
> > installing systems from, and they were for larger flash devices (1 GB
> > being considered the minimum anyone would likely happen to have handy
> > anyway).
> Great info. Do you mean this one:

Almost.  IIRC, Gremlin also produced a patch to our Owl/build/ tree to
automatically generate flash images like that.  Gremlin, please post
that patch to owl-dev now such that we could refer to it at least.

> With ZFS on Linux (ZoL) and BTRFS in the horizon, it seemed as such a
> script would be nice to separate OS from the data. With ro CF/USB with
> an encrypted data volume implemented in Owl would indeed be awesome!

Owl already supports encryption for loopback devices, so you can use
an encrypted ext4 filesystem with it currently (with our pre-built
kernels and tools).  As to keeping the OS read-only, this also can be
done e.g. like it's done on our live CDs.  We could add some scripts to
make setting this up easier, but I think folks should start actually
setting up systems like that first, so that we know what's actually in
demand and what is not.

> Thanks that you appreciate interest in new features. Have you ever
> though to HAMMER filestystem from DragonflyBSD to port? I am
> optimistic that Owl team could port HAMMER to Owl (as you already have
> ported several of the BSD utilities).

That would be an ambitious project of its own, and porting of kernel
code is quite different from porting of userspace code - including in
terms of subsequent maintenance as the Linux kernel interfaces change.

One of the reasons why Owl evolves a lot slower than we'd like it to is
that it's not the only project we're working on.  While certain other
projects of ours like John the Ripper are technically part of Owl,
they're not essential to Owl and they have an overall negative effect on
Owl development in particular (they take more time than they're worth as
it relates to Owl, even though they're very valuable on their own).  In
this context, adding yet another project that is not essential to Owl
would have negative overall effect on Owl development.  Thus, no, let's
not port HAMMER to Linux on our own.  If someone else does it and
maintains it, then that would bring it within consideration for Owl.

Meanwhile, we support DRBD in our kernel builds (and we need to add the
corresponding userspace tools to Owl), and we may add support for some
additional filesystems that are already supported on Linux.  BTW, of the
less common ones, I'd consider POHMELFS.


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