timdoug's interesting tidbits

Little bits of technical documentation and such. Hopefully helpful.


Installing Debian in xhyve

xhyve is a nice and lightweight hypervisor for macOS. Getting Debian running on it requires a bit of effort though; the following instructions result in a functional installation with working networking.

  1. git clone https://github.com/mist64/xhyve.git
  2. Apply this patch so there's enough space for the installer ramdisk (thanks to this PR for the tip):
  3. diff --git a/src/firmware/kexec.c b/src/firmware/kexec.c
    index 61aeebb..2a5ce67 100644
    --- a/src/firmware/kexec.c
    +++ b/src/firmware/kexec.c
    @@ -184,7 +184,7 @@ kexec_load_ramdisk(char *path) {
            sz = (size_t) ftell(f);
            fseek(f, 0, SEEK_SET);
    -       ramdisk_start = ALIGNUP((kernel.base + kernel.size), 0x1000ull);
    +       ramdisk_start = ALIGNUP((kernel.base + kernel.size + 32*1024*1024), 0x1000ull);
            if ((ramdisk_start + sz) > memory.size) {
                    /* not enough memory */
  4. make
  5. Grab the Debian installer kernel and initrd. I use the daily snapshots, but substitute accordingly.
    curl https://d-i.debian.org/daily-images/amd64/daily/netboot/debian-installer/amd64/initrd.gz -o initrd.gz-installer
    curl https://d-i.debian.org/daily-images/amd64/daily/netboot/debian-installer/amd64/linux -o linux-installer
  6. Create an empty disk image: dd if=/dev/zero of=debian.img bs=1m count=8192
  7. Grab a UUID so the VM comes up with the same IP address every launch: python -c 'import uuid; print uuid.uuid4()'
  8. Run the Debian installer, changing options accordingly (1G is RAM size, the arguments to virtio-blk and the kexec firmware are paths): sudo ./build/xhyve -A -H -U <<<YOUR UUID HERE>>> -m 1G -s 0,hostbridge -s 1,lpc -s 2,virtio-blk,debian.img -s 3,virtio-net -l com1,stdio -f "kexec,linux-installer,initrd.gz-installer,earlyprintk=serial console=ttyS0" Feel free to skip bootloader installation, since we use xhyve's kexec implementation.
  9. We now need to grab the non-installer kernel and initrd out of the disk image.
    1. Boot into the installer's recovery mode by passing rescue/enable=true: sudo ./build/xhyve -A -H -U <<<YOUR UUID HERE>>> -m 1G -s 0,hostbridge -s 1,lpc -s 2,virtio-blk,debian.img -s 3,virtio-net -l com1,stdio -f "kexec,linux-installer,initrd.gz-installer,earlyprintk=serial console=ttyS0 rescue/enable=true"
    2. Use /dev/vda1 as the root filesystem and execute a shell there (both the defaults), then type bash to get a sane one.
    3. apt-get install netcat
    4. On the host run nc -l 8000 >vmlinuz, and on the VM run nc 8000 </boot/vmlinuz*. You'll have to manually ctrl-C after the (essentially instant) transfer is complete.
    5. Do the same for the initrd.img in /boot.
    6. Verify checksums and sanity otherwise:
      host$ file vmlinuz initrd.img
      vmlinuz:    Linux kernel x86 boot executable bzImage, version 4.9.0-3-amd64 (debian-kernel@lists.debian.org) #1 SMP Debian 4., RO-rootFS, swap_dev 0x3, Normal VGA
      initrd.img: gzip compressed data, last modified: Thu Jun  1 16:23:39 2017, from Unix
    7. Exit out of bash and the chroot, then "reboot" the system.
  10. Start your new VM, being sure to change the kernel/initrd paths and set the root partition's location accordingly: sudo ./build/xhyve -A -H -U <<<YOUR UUID HERE>>> -m 1G -s 0,hostbridge -s 1,lpc -s 2,virtio-blk,debian.img -s 3,virtio-net -l com1,stdio -f "kexec,vmlinuz,initrd.img,earlyprintk=serial console=ttyS0 root=/dev/vda1"
  11. Success! Install an SSH server, get work done, etc.
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