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Thread: ASUS ExpressGate -- beware of ripoff!

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    You could try this:

    Code:
    #!/bin/sh
    DEVICE="/dev/USBSTICK"
    IMAGE="FILE.IMG"
    offset=$(($(sfdisk -d $IMAGE|grep start=|head -n1|sed 's/.*start=\s*//;s/,.*//')*512))
    OPTIONS="umask=000,shortname=mixed,quiet,utf8"
    DIR=/tmp/target
    INPUT=/tmp/input
    umount ${DEVICE}1 $INPUT
    mkdir -p $DIR $INPUT
    mount -o loop,offset=$offset,$OPIONS $IMAGE $INPUT
    dd if=/dev/zero of=$DEVICE count=1
    sfdisk -D -uM $DEVICE <<EOT
    ,220,6,*
    ,,b
    EOT
    #install-mbr -p D ${DEVICE}
    lilo -s /dev/null -M ${DEVICE}
    mkdosfs -F16 -nDVMUSB ${DEVICE}1
    mkdosfs -F32 -nDATA ${DEVICE}2
    syslinux -s ${DEVICE}1
    mount -o $OPTIONS ${DEVICE}1 $DIR
    cat > $DIR/syslinux.cfg <<EOT
    default /ce_bz
    EOT
    cp -av $INPUT/* $DIR/
    umount ${DEVICE}1 $INPUT
    sync
    That boots to the menu, but does not work for me. Tried FAT32 and FAT16. (For FAT32 use "b" instead of "6" and -F32 instead of -F16"). Maybe it would be more easy to use what is copied on HD with the install tool.

    Edit: Added -D flag to sfdisk increase boot compatibility with certain boards.
    Edit 2: Don't use awk, use syslinux + lilo instead of grub - should be more portable because grub files are not at the same place in most cases. Instead of lilo you can use install-mbr (usually from the mbr package). I basically worte another variant that only uses lilo, but thats maybe not so ideal when the kernel file is moved.
    Edit 3: Create 2 partitions, one is 220 mb for the system, the rest is fat32 and can be used to store data which you can access later, everything you store on first partition can not accessed.
    Last edited by Kano; 07-25-2008 at 12:11 PM.

  2. #22
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    Jul 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgc8 View Post
    Well, since we're on the subject, I can tell you that linux compatibility is so-so with this board (the p5q-pro that is, I can't discuss other variants as there are differences).
    I can fill in some details for the P5Q-E variant. lm-sensors has the same problem - all you get are the four core temps, no voltages or fan speeds. OTOH, ethernet works fine out of the box, both controllers being Marvell (although the two are slightly different variants). As mentioned, all of the AI and auto overclocking stuff is windows only, but manual overclocking works great and the BIOS automatically adjusts Vcore when you change the FSB frequency.

    One possible snag is that this board has a Marvell PATA controller, which is supported out of the box for kernel 2.6.25 and up, but older distros might have some issues.

    For the distro I'm using (Opensuse 11, kernel 2.6.25), both suspend and hibernate seem to work OK, but hibernate fails to shut the power off around 50% of the time. This may be fixable by setting the power off mode to use power-off instead of ACPI, but I haven't tried yet.

    Since I left SATA set to IDE mode, Express gate works fine off the HDD - goes from splash screen to Firefox loaded in around 15 seconds - which is longer than the advertised 5 seconds, but still quite usable. Although I don't use them as much, some of the other apps, like Pidgin and Skype, load faster (Firefox is the slowest). I also tried installing it to a Sandisk Ultra-II SD card in a Sandisk reader and that worked too, although it was a bit slower, but not too much so.

    EDIT: For Express gate running Skype, load time is around 10 seconds from the Express gate menu to the Skype login dialog.
    Last edited by drosky; 07-23-2008 at 06:19 PM.

  3. #23
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    Jul 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    You could try this:

    ...

    That boots to the menu, but does not work for me. Tried FAT32 and FAT16. (For FAT32 use "b" instead of "6" and -F32 instead of -F16"). Maybe it would be more easy to use what is copied on HD with the install tool.

    Edit: Added -D flag to sfdisk increase boot compatibility with certain boards.
    According to this article:

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...item&px=NjEwNw

    Express gate consists of an "appliance engine" running within a virtual environment ("core engine"). The core engine is integrated into the BIOS and contains various hardware drivers (including video).

    I wonder if what you are doing when you use this method is you are booting just the appliance engine, which essentially presents the menu of appliances, but the appliances themselves require drivers and other capabilities that are provided by the core engine, which is not present when the appliance engine is booted this way.

    Perhaps it is necessary to extract the core engine from a BIOS image and boot that instead.

  4. #24
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    The article is wrong. In the BIOS is only the startcode to boot the kernel. And the kernel is called ce_bz and can be started with grub too. To get the menu you can use something like:

    VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename usbstick.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/USBSTICK

    Vbox can select the vmdk as hd and start the menu, did not try that with VMware, maybe that works better. The apps itself do not work with Vbox. I don't know if the image somewhere checks for ASUS or ASrock hardware, maybe try it on different systems too. It does not boot on my systems however (I do not own Asus boards). If you have got problems with the script maybe try to use gawk instead of awk. What I use is the image which I expect is only copied on the interal usb drive on some deluxe boards 1:1. My script just uses a full usb stick and copies the content to the disk - so you could add your user data in the rest of the space. You can use 256 mb sticks up to 2 gb with fat16. Also it installs grub, of course i copy only the files from a 32 bit install of linux, update the cp lines with stage1/2 to match your system.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    The article is wrong. In the BIOS is only the startcode to boot the kernel. And the kernel is called ce_bz and can be started with grub too.
    OK, well that's good news. The article is old, so maybe they were originally planning to do it as in the article, and then decided on a simpler approach.

    One possible issue when using VMWare, Vbox, or a different MB is that the image probably doesn't contain drivers for any hardware other than what's on the target MB. I don't know if this would cause the apps to fail to start.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    Well this is really interesting. I would like to get those installed files on hd, maybe they are compressed in a common way and could be extracted
    Some of them are, and I have been able to hack the environment a bit. See new thread in this forum:

    http://www.phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11610

  7. #27
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    Yes, I saw that already, file reported it. Btw. for those who don't want to boot it on real hardware can use this script to install grub inside the loop file. You can then boot it with qemu -hda (mouse does not work) or convert it into a vmdk and try booting it with vbox (i had no success with vmware player).

    Code:
    #!/bin/sh
    IMAGE="FILE.IMG"
    offset=$(($(sfdisk -d $IMAGE|awk '/start=/{print $4}'|head -n1|sed 's/,//')*512))
    LOOP="/dev/loop0"
    OPTIONS="umask=000,shortname=mixed,quiet,utf8"
    DIR=/tmp/target
    mkdir -p $DIR
    losetup -d $LOOP
    losetup $LOOP $IMAGE
    umount $DIR
    mount -o loop,offset=$offset,$OPIONS $IMAGE $DIR
    mkdir -p $DIR/boot/grub
    cat > $DIR/boot/grub/menu.lst <<EOT
    timeout 0
    title Test
    kernel /ce_bz
    EOT
    cp -v /usr/lib/grub/i386-pc/stage1 $DIR/boot/grub
    cp -v /usr/lib/grub/i386-pc/stage2 $DIR/boot/grub
    grub --device-map=/dev/null --batch <<EOT
    device (hd0) $LOOP
    root (hd0,0)
    setup --stage2=$DIR/boot/grub/stage2 (hd0)
    EOT
    umount $DIR
    losetup -d $LOOP
    To create a vmdk file:

    Code:
    qemu-img convert FILE.IMG -O vmdk test.vmdk

  8. #28
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    Nov 2007
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    I used Kano's script and then could boot Splashtop from my usb key with an ASUS P5LD2 SE. Tried the browser and it started, though I couldn't open web pages as it didn't let me configure my wireless usb stick.
    And it hung when I clicked the button which would start the actual OS. It's useless without internet connection but I'm still amazed it worked

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by anyone View Post
    I used Kano's script and then could boot Splashtop from my usb key with an ASUS P5LD2 SE. Tried the browser and it started, though I couldn't open web pages as it didn't let me configure my wireless usb stick.
    And it hung when I clicked the button which would start the actual OS. It's useless without internet connection but I'm still amazed it worked
    That's good news And thanks to Kano for figuring it out. I wonder if the problem with running in VMWare or on a MB very different from the tarbet MB is that the image may not contain the proper hardware drivers for the vmware environment or the foreign MB. The P5LD2 must be close enough to the target MB.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    Yes, I saw that already, file reported it. Btw.
    Yah, I didn't think to try that *grin*. I'm sort of new to this..

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