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                      Bedrock Linux

Bedrock Linux 1.0alpha3 Bosco

© Bedrock Linux 2012-2022
Linux® is a registered
trademark of Linus Torvalds

Bedrock Linux 1.0alpha3 Bosco Installation Instructions

Before beginning installation, be sure to at least skim the other pages for this release of Bedrock Linux (1.0alpha3 Bosco). Make sure you're aware of, for example, the known issues and troubleshooting advice before you begin following the instructions below.

Note that there is no proper installer for this release of Bedrock Linux (1.0alpha3 Bosco). Installation is done by manually collecting and compiling the components, laying out the filesystem, adding the users, etc. Experienced Linux users - those who are comfortable compiling their own software, know the significance of the various parts of the filesystem directory layout, etc - should not have overly much trouble, but those new to Linux or those who don't want to get their hands dirty may wish to seek another Linux distribution for their needs.

If you are currently using a previous version of Bedrock Linux, note that many of the existing directories from your current installation may be used in this release unaltered: /home, /root, /boot, /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, /usr/sbin, /var/chroot (or wherever you kept your clients). When these directories come up in the following instructions, consider simply copying the old values over the ones created here. Additionally, it could be useful to keep your configuration files, such as brclients.conf and /etc/passwd, to reference.

Installation Host Environment

First, boot a Linux distribution from a device/partition other than the one on which you wish to install Bedrock. This will be called the "installer host." The installer host can be a LiveCD or LiveUSB Linux distribution (such as Knoppix or an Ubuntu installer), or simply a normal Linux distribution on another device or another partition on the same device.

Most major Linux distributions will work for installer host, provided they support compiling tools such as make. Distributions with ready access to debootstrap (such as most major Debian-based distributions, Arch Linux through AUR, Fedora, and others) are preferable if you would like a Debian-based client, as they will make it relatively easy to acquire said client through debootstrap. The installer host should also have internet access. Arch Linux users have reported difficulties statically compiling with libcap - if you are using Arch Linux, you might have to compile your own libcap (perhaps with ABS) which supports statically compiling.

Be sure the installer host uses the same instruction set as you wish Bedrock Linux to use. Specifically, watch out for (32-bit) x86 live Linux distribution if you wish to make Bedrock Linux (64-bit) x86-64. While it is possible have the installer host use a different instruction set from the targeted Bedrock, it is a bit more work and not covered in these instructions.

If the computer on which you wish to install Bedrock Linux is slow, you may find it preferable to use another computer to do the CPU-intensive compiling. However, this will make some things - such as choosing which modules to compile into the kernel - more difficult. These instructions do not cover compiling on a separate machine from the one on which you wish to install.


Using partitioning software such as gparted or fdisk, partition the device on which you wish to install Bedrock. Be very careful to only format bits and bytes which you no longer need - a mistake here could blow away another operating system with which you intended to dual-boot with Bedrock.

For the most part you are free to partition the system however you please. If you are unsure of how to partition it, it is reasonable to use only two partitions:

  1. Your main partition for mounting the root directory (ie, /)
  2. A swap partition. Recommendations for swap sizes usually vary between equal to your RAM size to two-and-a-half times your RAM size.

If you are comfortable with typical partitioning schemes for Linux - such as making /boot, /home, etc their own partitions - you are free to do so. Before doing so, note some unusual aspects of Bedrock's layout:

Note which devices files correspond to which partitions of the Bedrock Linux filesystem. These are normally located in /dev, and called sdXN, where X is a letter a-z and N is a digit 0-9. This information will be used later to mount these partitions.

Bosco has only been tested with the ext2 and ext3 filesystems, but any Linux-supported filesystem should work fine. If you choose to use something other than ext2/3/4, be sure you know where to find (and how to set up) corresponding fsck software and a bootloader which can work with that filesystem, as these instructions will only cover ext2/3/4.

If you are dual-booting with another Linux distribution, wish to use that distribution's bootloader, and know how to add Bedrock Linux to that distribution's bootloader, be sure to keep the boot flag on the other distribution's boot partition. If you would like to use Bedrock's bootloader, be sure to set the boot flag on the proper partition (ie, either the Bedrock's main/root partition or, if you made a special /boot partition, then the /boot partition you made).

Mounting Bedrock's partitions

Make a directory in which to mount Bedrock's fresh to partition(s). These instructions assumes you are using /mnt/bedrock for this. If you would like to use something else, be sure to change /mnt/bedrock accordingly whenever it comes up in these instructions. In general, when you see anything formatted like this that is a reminder that you should consider changing the content rather than typing/copying it verbatim.

Note that this will become Bedrock's root directory when you are done. As root:

mkdir -p /mnt/bedrock

Mount the newly-created main/root partition. Replace sdXN with the corresponding device file to the main/root partition. As root:

mount /dev/sdXN /mnt/bedrock

If you created more than one partition (other than swap) for Bedrock, make the corresponding directories and mount them. If you are upgrading from a prior release of Bedrock Linux, and you have partitions which contain only a subset of the following, they are probably safe to mount and use. Be sure to back up nonetheless - using pre-existing partitions has not been well tested and a command below may wipe them.

Creating the Userland

All of the Bedrock Linux userland which does not come from upstream is available in a single tarball which you can download and untar. Download the userland tarball from here into /mnt/bedrock and run the following to set it up:

If you receive errors about a missing library, such as sys/capability.h, or a missing executable such as setcap, install the package which contains the library or executable and try again. At the time of writing on most major Debian-based Linux distributions, these packages are libcap-dev and libcap2-bin, respectively. Arch Linux users have reported difficulties statically compiling with -lcap - if you are using Arch Linux, you may have to recompile libcap to support statically compiling.

Once you have run all of these command successfully, you can clean up extraneous files with:

make remove-unnecessary

Initial Client(s)

New to Bosco is experimental support for using components from other Linux distributions such as (and in fact, preferably from) clients. It would thus be useful to acquire your first client before continuing with creating the rest of Bedrock Linux. Instructions to acquire and set up clients are available here. You do not (yet) have to worry about configuring the client - simply install it so that it is on disk (and its files are accessible) After you have at least one client (although more is fine), continue reading below.

Linux Kernel

As was mentioned in the previous section, Bedrock Linux now has experimental support for using a pre-existing kernel from another Linux distribution. Kernels (along with their initrd and other files) from a number of Linux distributions have been tested, but potential remains for untested ones to have problems. If you try this out with a kernel not mentioned below, jumping into the IRC channel #bedrock on libera.chat or the subreddit to report success or failure with any given Linux distribution's kernel would be appreciated.

If you would prefer to compile your own kernel, the instructions from the previous release to download the source and compile/install the kernel are still valid; follow those. When you have completed them, skip the rest of this section and continue in the next section below. If you would prefer to use the kernel from another Linux distribution, continue reading here.

Using a kernel from a client is preferable to using one from a Linux distribution which is not a client so that you can continue to use that client as a source for the kernel as it updates the kernel, but non-clients should work as well.

If you would like to use the kernel from a client you have but the client does not (yet) have a kernel installed, you can access the client's package manager by running the commands below. Be sure to change /mnt/bedrock/var/chroot/client to where you have placed the client in which you would like to install the kernel.

From there, run whatever commands are necessary to install the kernel. For example, for x86_64 Debian-based client run apt-get install linux-image-amd64, or for an Arch Linux client run pacman -S linux. When you have finished, run the following commands to clean up:

Next, you must copy the relevant files from the location in the client Linux distribution into the core of Bedrock Linux so they can be accessed while booting. If you are getting them from a client, they will likely be somewhere such as /mnt/bedrock/var/chroot/client. If you are using another source such as the installer host you will have to determine where they are located. The files are:


Like with the kernel, Bedrock Linux now has experimental support for using Busybox binaries from other Linux distributions such as (in fact, preferably) from a client.

If you would prefer to compile your own Busybox, the instructions from the previous release to download the source and compile/install Busybox are still valid; follow those until you get to

ldd busybox

When you get there, return to this page and skip down to busybox test section below. If you would prefer to use Busybox from another Linux distribution (or just have difficulty statically compiling busybox), continue reading here.

Static busyboxes from a number of Linux distributions have been tested, but potential remains for untested ones to have problems. If you try this out with a static Busybox not mentioned below, jumping into the IRC channel #bedrock on libera.chat or the subreddit to report success or failure with any given Linux distribution's static busybox would be appreciated.

There seems to be a trend where Busyboxes from Debian-based Linux distributions prior to 1.20 have a bug with getty/login. Presumably any 1.20 Busybox or later will no longer have this issue.

If you would like to use a Busybox from a client you have but the client does not (yet) have Busybox installed, you can access the client's package manager by running the commands below. Be sure to change /mnt/bedrock/var/chroot/client to where you have placed the client in which you would like to install the kernel.

From there, run whatever commands are necessary to install busybox. Note you are looking for a static busybox - the package might be called something such as busybox-static, although it might just be called busybox. When you have finished, run the following commands:

The just-installed busybox is probably at /mnt/bedrock/var/chroot/client/bin/busybox.

If all of your clients have bad busyboxes, you could try using the installer host's, or you could download a package containing a known good one and extract busybox from the package. For example, to download Debian Sid's busybox:

Busybox test

You should now have a candidate busybox; either one you compiled from source, one from a client or one from another distribution.

To make sure it will work, you need to test for four things:

  1. That it is statically compiled
  2. That it contains all of the required applets
  3. That it supports "--install"
  4. That it does not have a specific bug which appears to have been fixed in Busybox 1.20.0

To test for these things, download this script, set it to be executable (chmod +x busybox-test-1.0alpha3.sh) and run it with the location of the busybox you are testing as an argument. For example, if the current working directory contains the busybox executable you are going to test, download the test script there and run:

./busybox-test-1.0alpha3.sh ./busybox

If a test failed, you will have to find or compile another busybox. See the known-good busyboxes listed towards the top of the busybox section.

If all of the tests pass, you can continue by installing this busybox executable into /mnt/bedrock. cd into the directory which contains the busybox executable and run:

Busybox should now be installed.


The exact choice of bootloader makes very little difference. Syslinux is the official Bedrock Linux bootloader primarily due to the fact it is relatively simple and easy to set up by hand. If you would prefer a different bootloader, such as GRUB or LILO, and you are confident you are able to set it up (with documentation from another source), you are welcome to use another bootloader. If you are dual booting with another operating system which has its own bootloader and you know how to add Bedrock Linux to the other operating system's bootloader, you are welcome to do that as well.

Syslinux is both the name of a project which contains multiple bootloaders and the name of one of the bootloaders within the project. If you are using ext2, ext3, ext4 or BTRFS as your filesystem, the "extlinux" bootloader from Syslinux should suffice. If you are using another filesystem which another filesystem you can either look at another member of the Syslinux family which supports your filesystem and continue below altering extlinux as necessary or find a completely different bootloader.

Quick update notes: Syslinux seems to move files around between releases without necessarily documenting it in the first place you'd look. The instructions here may be out-of-date and you may have to poke around. For example, since the time these instructions support for EFI has been added. To build for a BIOS (pre-EFI system), compile with make bios and look around in a bios folder for mentioned files. Look for bios/extlinux/extlinux and bios/mbr/mbr.bin instead of whatever is mentioned below.

The following instructions are assuming you are using the extlinux member of the Syslinux family. If you are using another bootloader for whatever reason, follow instructions for setting it up elsewhere and skip the rest of this section.

Download Syslinux from the official syslinux website. Bosco was tested successfully with Syslinux 3.86 but newer versions should work. If you are using BTRFS, you need at least version 4.0.

If you are not using a LiveUSB/LiveCD but are using another partition on the same machine as the one on which you are installing Bedrock Linux, avoid shutting down the installer host part-way through these instructions to avoid leaving yourself without a successfully set up bootloader and may have difficulty resuming installation.

Change to the directory in which you placed downloaded Syslinux source.

cd /mnt/bedrock/src

Unpackage syslinux and change directories into the extlinux subdirectory in it:

If you are using (32-bit) x86, you may use the compiled binary the package which comes with the package. Otherwise, you will have to compile extlinux it yourself. If you are not using (32-bit) x86 (or you would like to compile syslinux for another reason), run the following:

make clean; make

You may receive an error about lacking nasm or some other packages. If so, install those packages and try again. If you receive other errors, note that this will compile a number of things you do not need and there is a good chance that the error was not with regards to extlinux. Check to see if extlinux compiled successfully:

ls extlinux/extlinux

If this returns a file, it compiled successfully, and you are free to install extlinux. As root:

extlinux/extlinux --install /mnt/bedrock/boot/extlinux

Although syslinux is installed on the partition, it still needs to be properly set up on the harddrive itself. Find the corresponding device file for device you made bootable when you partitioned/formatted earlier. Note that here we aren't looking for the partition device file - /dev/sdXN - but rather the device's file - /dev/sdX. There should be no 0-9 digit in the filename. As root:

cat mbr/mbr.bin > /dev/sdX # change X accordingly

You may now want to copy several files to /mnt/bedrock/boot/extlinux which syslinux needs for some of its features.

To use a simple menu when booting (as opposed to a commandline), copy menu.c32

cp com32/menu/menu.c32 /mnt/bedrock/boot/extlinux

Or, if you'd prefer a fancy graphical menu, copy vesamenu.c32

cp com32/menu/vesamenu.c32 /mnt/bedrock/boot/extlinux

To be able to poweroff from the boot menu (or commandline), copy poweroff.com:

cp com32/modules/reboot.c32 /mnt/bedrock/boot/extlinux

Note that you can reboot with ctrl-alt-delete without reboot.c32.

To chain-load another operating system's bootloader (such as Microsoft Windows), you will need chain.c32.

cp com32/modules/chain.c32 /mnt/bedrock/boot/extlinux

Now you should create the configuration file for syslinux. Unlike GRUB, syslinux must be configured by hand. Assuming you want a graphical menu, run the following to get a basic menu in syslinux:

cat > /mnt/bedrock/boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf << EOF
UI menu.c32
MENU TITLE Syslinux Bootloader
LABEL Bedrock
    MENU LABEL Bedrock Linux 1.0alpha3 Bosco
    APPEND root=/dev/sdXN quiet ro
    INITRD ../initrd.img-VERSION

Consider changing the following:

If you would like to dual-boot with another operating system such as Windows, append the following:

cat >> /mnt/bedrock/boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf << EOF
    MENU LABEL Operating System Name
    COM32 chain.c32
    APPEND hdN N

Consider changing the following from this addition:


The typical fsck executable itself is a front-end for filesystem-specific executables. If you want to have Bedrock Linux run fsck on boot as most other major Linux distributions do, you will need to install the both the fsck front-end and filesystem-specific executable(s) for your filesystem(s). Note that while this is recommended, it is optional - you can set "FSCK=0" in your rc.conf to disable fsck, and in this case you do not need to install fsck.

For ext2, ext3 and ext4, you can find the source for the fsck executable at the sourceforge page. If you would like to use another filesystem, it should not be difficult to find the fsck for it and install it instead, but these instructions do not cover it.

Change to the directory in which you placed the downloaded source, untar it and enter the resulting directory:

Create a build directory and change directory into it:

Compile the fsck executables:

To confirm that they were compiled statically, run

and check that both commands output "not a dynamic executable".

To install the filesystem specific executable, simply copy it to what will be Bedrock's /sbin with the names of the filesystems it supports (as root):

Busybox may or may not come with fsck. The busybox tests above did not ensure it existed. If it does exist, you should have a file called fsck at /mnt/bedrock/sbin/fsck. If this exists you may use it; otherwise, install the fsck front-end you just compiled:

cp misc/fsck /mnt/bedrock/sbin/fsck


All of the major components should be installed at this point; all that remains is to edit the configuration files as desired. The instructions to do so are broken up into two parts:

Add users

The userland tarball you installed earlier with two users, "root" and "brroot". "root" is the normal root user. "brroot" is actually the same user (both have UID 0); it is simple an alternative login which will always log in to Bedrock Linux's core rather than a shell from a client. While "brroot" is not required, it is quite useful as a fall-back in case the you would like to use a shell from a client for root and that client breaks.

The next handful of command should be run in a chroot:

chroot /mnt/bedrock /bin/sh

The root user (and brroot) both have default passwords of "bedrock". To change this to something else, run

passwd -a sha512

Note that this will only change root's password; the brroot login for the same user will still have the default password. To change brroot password to the same thing, run:

If the busybox you installed has the adduser command, you can run the following to install additional users:

If it does not, you will have to manually add the new users:

If you are not sure what to put for UID or GID, note that both traditionally start at 1000 for regular users and increment upwards as new users are added. Look at the contents of /etc/passwd and /etc/group to find the lowest used UID and GID of at least 1000 already in use (if any) and pick the next integer above that.

If you would like to create a "br-" version of these users which will use the same password to log in but will always log in to the core of Bedrock Linux, run the following for each user once:

Once you have completed adding all of the desired users and setting their passwords, you may exit the chroot



The default hostname is "bedrock-box". To change this, edit /mnt/bedrock/etc/hostname as desired.

Additionally, change "bedrock-box" in /mnt/bedrock/etc/hosts to your desired hostname as well.

Bedrock-Specific Configuration

See the bosco configuration page for instructions on how to configure Bedrock Linux specific functionality such as clients.


Reboot into Bedrock Linux and run the last few commands to set it up. Log in as root and run:


This will make commands from clients - such as bash - available both from the core and other clients, assuming everything is set up properly.

Lastly, you might have to re-set capabilities on brc. Earlier when you ran make install, make attempted to set the chroot capability on brc to allow non-root users to use chroot() through brc. For some reason this may not stick; if that is the case, you'll have to re-do it here. Try to run a brc command (for example, brc bedrock cat /etc/issue) as a non-root user. If this gives you an error about setcap, install the relevant packages into a client to provide the setcap command, possibly run brp -a, (or just brp) and then run:

setcap cap_sys_chroot=ep /bedrock/bin/brc

Everything should be good to go. If you run into any difficulties, try reviewing the relevant documentation pages for this release, and if that doesn't help sufficiently, don't hesitate to drop into the IRC channel or subreddit.