Embedded systems & packages ???

  • I've looked around a while and I can't find an answer to the question "why" can't packages be used with embedded systems?

    It seems to me that there would be quite a bit of interest in this. I have net4801's with 512 MB CF's in them, so at least in my case there doesn't seem (?) to be any major hardware limitations.

    Maybe there could be a generalized build-time option to include one or more packages in a custom CF image?

    But since I don't know the history of this issue, maybe that option doesn't even make sense.

    Any comments or pointers would be appreciated.

    Greg Shenaut

  • Because embedded is designed to be run on hardware with a limited write lifespan.  Packages aren't written with this in mind, hence packages aren't supported on embedded.

    Of course, if you don't mind the risks then simply look at the many postings detailing how to install packages on embedded anyway…

  • Why would using a package require excessive writing into write-limited media? Maybe that's what I haven't understood.

    Sure, when you initially install a package, it will write the permanent memory, but only one time, right? Once it's installed, it's no different from the rest of the system.

    And, even if it does reduce the lifespan of the memory device, I don't quite get why this wouldn't be left up to the end user to decide, perhaps along with a strongly worded warning.

    Could it be that the packages, unliked the rest of the system, simply tend not to be configured for use from read-only media? I can see how that could simplify the process of creating a package, and it would explain the prohibition against their use in embedded systems. Maybe in this case, there could be a embedded-compatible attribute of packages.

    Probably I've misunderstood something about how the packages are implemented. Still, I'd genuinely appreciate some further explanation, if it wouldn't be too much trouble.

    Greg Shenaut

  • Some packages are write intensive - snort and squid spring to mind.  None as far as I know are designed with read-only media in mind and, given that there is no official support for packages in embedded there's unlikely to be an "embedded" flag as an option for them.

    As for leaving decisions to end-users, if you look at the previous postings you'll see that the pfSense devs have said how to install packages on embedded, but have said that there is no support for that arrangement.  I'd call that a strongly worded warning ;)

  • Aside from excessive reads/writes to media, the packages generally require far more memory and CPU than is found on your typical embedded device.  Thus they are inappropriate for use on the embedded platform.

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