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Installing Debian on the Thecus N2100 -- PART 4 -- Installing Debian (2)

Posted by coldtobi | 5 Mar, 2008, 23:56

The third part stopped with creation of the raid array. As this is a very time consuming process, which takes some resources to complete, this is a good point where to make a break and just let it finish. However, this is not really required, as rebuilding the RAID is also perfectly done by the the OS while you can still use it. But if you stop the procedure – by a reboot, as a example – the kernel will restart the process from the beginning. So take this as a hint, that you maybe want to check the progress before you finally reboot / power down.

Just  repeating my self, please note, that this VOIDS YOUR WARRANTY. So the usual disclaimer apply: You brick, you repair it. I do not recommend installing linux on the box, if you are not sure you can handle it. Linux requires more hand-on than the GUI -- you won't have a GUI anyway -- but on the other side, it reveals the real power.

Table of Contens

  1. Part 1: Get Prepared
  2. Part 2: Installing the Installer
  3. Part 3: Installing Debian I
  4. Part 4: Installing Debian II (this article)
  5. Part 5: Fine tuning after the installation



Back to the text, after your set the RAID up, the partition manager will reload and the next step is to create the „real“ partitions.

After some research, I found out, that my desired filesystem will be xfs or jfs, as these perform very well under system with very limited resources.

However, this was only the plan, as I found out the hard way, that XFS and JFS are currently not working. On the on hand, one can only select „XFS“ in the debian installer, but eventually -- at some later point – the installation will fail:


So I did go for a „traditional“ ext3. Due the troubleshooting, I did not retake all screenshots with that configuration, but the partitioning process is the same except selecting the ext3 as filesystem type. So if you read XFS somewhere, make sure to use the proper file system.




To create the partitions, you have to select the ones at the top, marked with „RAID1 device#x“. Select them and press enter.

You will be prompted with the following screenshot. Select „Use As“ to change the filesystem to something more desireable – in case you do not want a 10GByte swap partition.

As told before, XFS will not work, so please choose your second favourite filesystem. Ext3 is usually a fine choice, but you can also go for a Reiser partition. I used ext3 for this one.


After changing the type, you will get some more options, like this (some text might differ). The only important thing is, that you have to set the mount point to „/“, as you want your root filesystem in this partition.

You do that also with the remaining other RAID containers. If you want to encrypt the container which will hold the „NAS“-Data (in my case RAID1 #2) please notice that you cannot do that right out of the installer, but it is not problem at all to set it up later. (Note: Encryption on the Thecus N2100 is quite slow). When you are done, you will have a setup like that:

So, now the time is come to save all the changes to disk and then format the containers to their fs. By the way, the warning is wrong: You have already screwed up your data, and formatting it won't destroy anything as there is currently nothing to be destroyed ;-)

Or short: Say „Yes“.

If you get the following already shown screenshot, I suggest to read the text again... I repeat it here, as this is where the error will occur if you try to create the xfs. I did not investigate this much deeper, as this already took me some hours... This might also be fixed in some later release of the installer, but as I am not sure if this is really only a „installer“ issue, I suggest that you better test a xfs filesystem throughly: I tried after the installation again to reformat the NAS-Partition to XFS and JFS: Beside fs corruption and segfaults while repairing. Bottom line it did not work and I assume there are some problems in the kernel [jx]fs code on the arm architecture.

After the formating, Internet is required again: The base system is downloaded and then installed. This is again a point, where your patience is required.

The popularity contest is some data collection, which helps the debian people a lot. If you are unconfortable with sending some data about your software installation, you should say no here.

After the base system is on the disk, the installer will ask you about what you want to do with your newly installed system. This will help it to select packages to install. Usually you will go for „standard“ or maybe some server selection. „Desktop Environment“ is quite pointless on the Thecus.

But as already said, this is only a coarse selection. I bet you will make your own selection later, using apt-get or aptitude. However, this selection will download and install some packages for you, so again – time for patience.

Eventually this is done, and it is time to flash the „real“ kernel to the non volatile memories. This kernel will then be used to boot debian. The flashing itself is also done by the installer, and this will take several minutes, where a forceful interruption could be fatal and will require the usage of the RedBoot environment. So better wait a little longer before panicking, if nothing seems to happen.

Installung Debian on the Thecus N2100 -- Image blog_me53.jpg

As a guideline, these are the timestamps of my installation, taken with another shell ssh'ed.

(BTW: Thecus use a different epoch, so the exact date will be bogus. We'll set the clock later when' debian up. )

Installation of the new kernel is almost the last step to be done. Now, you have to select „Continue“ to really finish the installation. By the way, THIS is the point where you might want to check the progress of the RAID rebuilding. Just fire up another ssh session to the installer, and exit to the shell. There you can get the status by „cat /proc/mdstat“ including a estimation when linux think it will be ready.

Installung Debian on the Thecus N2100 -- Image blog_me55.jpg

Installung Debian on the Thecus N2100 -- Image blog_me56.jpg

Installung Debian on the Thecus N2100 -- Image blog_me57.jpg


As you see, the installer disconnected. This is not bad, even if the eye-candy looks so.

All you have to do is to wait some more till the box is up. Then you can ssh in again, using your new root password. At this point, the host identification will – again – have changed. This is normal and ssh's warning can be neglected.

So now it is time to install additional software, update to a recent kernel, etc.

But first, you have to fix the time. Udev and the kernel will create out-of-the box the device „/dev/rtc0“. But as some software will look for „/dev/rtc“, you have to tell udev to create a symlink with these settings:


#add this line to /etc/udev/rules.d/z60_th2100rtc.rules

	KERNEL=="rtc0", SYMLINK+="rtc" GROUP="audio"

After that, you might want to set the system clock to the right date. I use the ntpdate package, which I installed with apt-get install ntpdate. In combination with hwclock –systohc the clock can be easily updated. (Note: After the time jumps so badly, the next reboot will cause a full filesystem check. This might take a while, and therefore I suggest to reboot just before going to bed and let it run overnight)

The next part of this howto will install some more software on the Thecus, and setup the NAS section to be used with encryption. However, you have now a fully operable debian installed, which only needs some tweeks and quirks to adapt to your needs.

If you want to share your experience with others, feel free to comment here. You can also send me your own stories, and if you want, I can publish them here.

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6 Comments | "Installing Debian on the Thecus N2100 -- PART 4 -- Installing Debian (2)" »

  1. Michael : iSCSI enterprise target

    12/03/2008, at 16:20 [ Reply ]

    I'm a Linux noob. I got the debian system installed and working (I even got X terminal working using x-win32). But for the life of me I can't get enterprise iscsi target to work. If I could get that to work, the N2100 would be priceless! Can anyone help? Please post the exact steps to take.

  2. coldtobi : Re: iSCSI enterprise target

    12/03/2008, at 17:25 [ Reply ]

    Well, I never did iSCSI by myself. However, maybe two hints:
    - There is a kernel module for iscsci. Do a apt-cache search iscsci to learn about that module. I do not know if its compiling under the Thecus, but I think chances are good.

    - Maybe you subscribe to the debian-arm mailing list. I am also on the list, so we could get into more details what you tried and where you are stuck.

    Making a tutorial like this means lots of work, and as I have currently not so much spare time also no use of iscsi, I currently unable to make a tutorial on this.
    (If someone volunteers, I am happy to post it here....)

  3. Michael : iSCSI enterprise target

    13/03/2008, at 11:03 [ Reply ]

    I got pretty far along but during the compile I got an error saying init_net was undefined.

    The best help I could find said:

    init_net is used added as a parameter to a lot of old API calls, f.e. ip_dev_find. These calls were exported as EXPORT_SYMBOL. So, export init_net as EXPORT_SYMBOL to keep networking API consistent.

    Do you have any idea what this means?


  4. coldtobi : Re: iSCSI enterprise target

    14/03/2008, at 12:30 [ Reply ]

    Sorry, your infos are too vague.. What did you compile? What version, kernel-version... What is the exact error message?

    (At the mailing list, I could help you a lot better as here...)

  5. Ani : WOL

    30/09/2008, at 10:37 [ Reply ]

    I want my N2100 to have WakeUp on Lan, so i can wakeup it.

    Iss that possible?

  6. semyonov : Thecus N2100 WOL

    25/08/2009, at 23:33 [ Reply ]

    Thecus N2100 WOL

    Hi, Did you solve the "wake on lan" with your N2100 thecus?

    Would you share how to, if you did, please?

    a_semyonov at yahoo.com