Finnix

Finnix

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Finnix is a Debian
Debian
Debian is a computer operating system composed of software packages released as free and open source software primarily under the GNU General Public License along with other free software licenses. Debian GNU/Linux, which includes the GNU OS tools and Linux kernel, is a popular and influential...

-based Live CD
Live CD
A live CD, live DVD, or live disc is a CD or DVD containing a bootable computer operating system. Live CDs are unique in that they have the ability to run a complete, modern operating system on a computer lacking mutable secondary storage, such as a hard disk drive...

 operating system
Operating system
An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

, developed by Ryan Finnie and intended for system administrators for tasks such as filesystem recovery, network monitoring and OS installation. Finnix is a relatively small distribution, with an ISO download size of approximately 100 MiB, and is available for the x86, x86-64
X86-64
x86-64 is an extension of the x86 instruction set. It supports vastly larger virtual and physical address spaces than are possible on x86, thereby allowing programmers to conveniently work with much larger data sets. x86-64 also provides 64-bit general purpose registers and numerous other...

 and PowerPC
PowerPC
PowerPC is a RISC architecture created by the 1991 Apple–IBM–Motorola alliance, known as AIM...

 architectures, and paravirtualized
Paravirtualization
In computing, paravirtualization is a virtualization technique that presents a software interface to virtual machines that is similar but not identical to that of the underlying hardware....

 (User Mode Linux and Xen
Xen
Xen is a virtual-machine monitor providing services that allow multiple computer operating systems to execute on the same computer hardware concurrently....

) systems. Finnix can be run off a bootable CD, a USB flash drive
USB flash drive
A flash drive is a data storage device that consists of flash memory with an integrated Universal Serial Bus interface. flash drives are typically removable and rewritable, and physically much smaller than a floppy disk. Most weigh less than 30 g...

, a hard drive, or network boot (PXE
Preboot Execution Environment
The Preboot eXecution Environment is an environment to boot computers using a network interface independently of data storage devices or installed operating systems.PXE was introduced as part of the Wired for Management framework by Intel and is described in the specification The Preboot...

).

History


Finnix development first began in 1999, making it one of the oldest distributions released with the intent of being run completely from a bootable CD (the other Live CD around at the time was the Linuxcare
Linuxcare
Linuxcare was founded in San Francisco in 1998 by Dave Sifry, Arthur Tyde and Dave LaDuke. The company's initial goal was to be "the 800 number for Linux" and operate 24 hours a day...

 Bootable Business Card CD, first released in 1999). Finnix 0.01 was based on Red Hat Linux
Red Hat Linux
Red Hat Linux, assembled by the company Red Hat, was a popular Linux based operating system until its discontinuation in 2004.Red Hat Linux 1.0 was released on November 3, 1994...

 6.0, and was created to help with administration and recovery of other Linux workstations around Finnie's office. The first public release of Finnix was 0.03, and was released in early 2000, based on an updated Red Hat Linux 6.1. Despite its 300 MiB ISO size and requirement of 32 MiB RAM (which, given RAM prices and lack of high-speed Internet proliferation at the time, was prohibitive for many), Finnix enjoyed moderate success, with over 10,000 downloads. After version 0.03, development ceased, and Finnix was left unmaintained until 2005.

On 23 October 2005, Finnix 86.0 was released. Earlier unreleased versions (84, and 85.0 through 85.3) were "Knoppix
Knoppix
Knoppix, or KNOPPIX , is an operating system based on Debian designed to be run directly from a CD / DVD or a USB key , one of the first of its kind for any operating system. Knoppix was developed by Linux consultant Klaus Knopper. When starting a program, it is loaded from the removable medium...

 remasters", with support for Linux LVM
Logical Volume Manager (Linux)
LVM is a logical volume manager for the Linux kernel; it manages disk drives and similar mass-storage devices, in particular large ones. The term "volume" refers to a disk drive or partition thereof...

 and dm-crypt
Dm-crypt
dm-crypt is a transparent disk encryption subsystem in Linux kernel versions 2.6 and later and in DragonFly BSD. It is part of the device mapper infrastructure, and uses cryptographic routines from the kernel's Crypto API...

 being the main reason for creation. However, 86.0 was a departure from Knoppix, and was derived directly from the Debian "testing" tree.

Usage


Finnix is released as a small bootable CD ISO. A user can download the ISO, burn the image to CD, and boot into a text mode Linux environment. Finnix requires at least 32 MiB RAM to run properly, but can use more if present. Most hardware devices are detected and dealt with automatically, such as hard drives, network cards and USB devices. A user can modify files nearly anywhere on the running CD via a union mount
Union mount
A union mount is a mount that allows several filesystems to be mounted at one time, appearing to be one filesystem.Rather than mounting each filesystem at a different place in the directory hierarchy, a union mount overlays the filesystems, creating a unified hierarchy...

 filesystem (UnionFS
UnionFS
UnionFS is a filesystem service for Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD which implements a union mount for other file systems. It allows files and directories of separate file systems, known as branches, to be transparently overlaid, forming a single coherent file system...

 or AUFS
Aufs
aufs implements a union mount for Linux file systems.Developed by Junjiro Okajima in 2006 aufs is a complete rewriting of the earlier UnionFS...

, depending on the Finnix release), stacking a read-write filesystem (in this case, a dynamic ramdisk) on top of a read-only filesystem (the CD media). Any changes made during the Finnix session are transparently written to RAM and discarded upon shutdown. In addition, Finnix uses SquashFS
SquashFS
SquashFS is a compressed read-only file system for Linux. SquashFS compresses files, inodes and directories, and supports block sizes up to 1 MB for greater compression...

 to keep distribution size low.

Finnix can be run completely within RAM, provided the system has at least 192 MiB RAM available. If a "toram" option is passed to Finnix, most of the contents of the CD are copied to a RAM disk
RAM disk
A RAM disk or RAM drive is a block of RAM that a computer's software is treating as if the memory were a disk drive...

, and the CD is ejected, freeing the CD-ROM drive for other purposes. Finnix can also be placed on a bootable USB thumb drive, or installed permanently on a hard drive (though still functioning as if it were a LiveCD).
Finnix is available for several processor architectures. The primary architecture is x86, with an additional x86-64
X86-64
x86-64 is an extension of the x86 instruction set. It supports vastly larger virtual and physical address spaces than are possible on x86, thereby allowing programmers to conveniently work with much larger data sets. x86-64 also provides 64-bit general purpose registers and numerous other...

 kernel included. PowerPC
PowerPC
PowerPC is a RISC architecture created by the 1991 Apple–IBM–Motorola alliance, known as AIM...

 support is available with most releases as a separate CD, released concurrently with its x86 counterpart. In addition, Finnix is aware of both the User Mode Linux and Xen
Xen
Xen is a virtual-machine monitor providing services that allow multiple computer operating systems to execute on the same computer hardware concurrently....

 virtualization systems. UML and Xen Virtual private server
Virtual private server
Virtual private server is a term used by internet hosting services to refer to a virtual machine. The term is used for emphasizing that the virtual machine, although running in software on the same physical computer as other customers' virtual machines, is functionally equivalent to a separate...

 providers such as Linode
Linode
Linode is a web application hosting and cloud computing provider based in Galloway Township, New Jersey. Linode allows system administrators and software developers to rent virtual servers on which to run their own computer applications...

 can provide Finnix as a recovery/maintenance distribution to their customers.

Versions


New versions of Finnix are released every 3 months on average, with updated software from the Debian "testing" tree, along with new Finnix-specific functionality. Versions 86.0 through 93.0 used a major/minor versioning scheme, with major releases usually including major functionality changes, and minor releases including minor fixes and Debian updates to bring Finnix's packages up to date with Debian's "testing" tree. Beginning with version 100, releases are numbered as a simple incrementing integer. Development builds are named after cities and towns in Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

.
Version Release date Kernel Packages Code name
0.03 22 March 2000 2.2.12 242 none
86.0 23 October 2005 2.6.13 336 none
86.1 21 November 2005 2.6.14 346/336 none
86.2 8 January 2006 2.6.15 343/336 none
87.0 31 March 2006 2.6.16 356/347 none
88.0 2 August 2006 2.6.17 359/349 Pulaski
Pulaski, Wisconsin
Pulaski is a village in Brown, Oconto, and Shawano Counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 3,060 at the 2000 census.The Brown and Oconto County portions of Pulaski are part of the Green Bay Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

89.0 22 January 2007 2.6.18 366/359 Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
As of the census of 2000, there were 62,916 people, 24,082 households, and 13,654 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,662.2 people per square mile . There were 25,420 housing units at an average density of 1,075.6 per square mile...

89.1 13 April 2007 2.6.18 365/359 Sheboygan
Sheboygan, Wisconsin
-Airport:Sheboygan is served by the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport, which is located several miles from the city.-Roads:Interstate 43 is the primary north-south transportation route into Sheboygan, and forms the west boundary of the city. U.S...

89.2 27 July 2007 2.6.18 365/359 Crivitz
Crivitz, Wisconsin
Crivitz is a village in Marinette County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 998 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Marinette, WI–MI Micropolitan Statistical Area.-History:Crivitz was surveyed and plotted in the summer of 1883...

90.0 23 October 2007 2.6.22 367/362 Kaukauna
Kaukauna, Wisconsin
Kaukauna is a city in Outagamie County, Wisconsin, United States, on the Fox River, approximately 100 miles north of Milwaukee, with a population of 12,983. It is a part of the Appleton, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisconsin Combined...

91.0 29 January 2008 2.6.24 370/366 Seymour
Seymour, Wisconsin
Seymour is a city in Outagamie County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 3,451 at the 2010 census. The city is located within the Town of Seymour and the Town of Osborn.-History:...

91.1 4 March 2008 2.6.24 364/354 Crivitz
Crivitz, Wisconsin
Crivitz is a village in Marinette County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 998 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Marinette, WI–MI Micropolitan Statistical Area.-History:Crivitz was surveyed and plotted in the summer of 1883...

92.0 28 June 2008 2.6.25 360/352 Shawano
Shawano, Wisconsin
Shawano is a city in Shawano County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 9,305 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Shawano County...

92.1 3 December 2008 2.6.26 366/356 Crandon
Crandon, Wisconsin
Crandon is a city in Forest County, Wisconsin, United States; it is in the northeastern part of the state, about north of Green Bay. The population was 1,920 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Forest County and is the only incorporated community in the county...

93.0 11 August 2009 2.6.30 367/356 Neenah
Neenah, Wisconsin
Neenah is a city on Lake Winnebago in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, United States. Its population was 24,507 at the 2000 census. The city is bordered by, but is politically independent of, the Town of Neenah. Neenah is the southwestern-most of the Fox Cities of Northeast Wisconsin...

100 28 October 2010 2.6.32 371 Oconto
Oconto, Wisconsin
Oconto is a city in Oconto County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 4,708 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Green Bay Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is located partially within the town of Oconto.-History:...

101 25 December 2010 2.6.36 365/359 Wausau
Wausau, Wisconsin
Wausau is a city in and the county seat of Marathon County, Wisconsin, United States. The Wisconsin River divides the city. The city is adjacent to the town of Wausau.According to the 2000 census, Wausau had a population of 38,426 people...

102 23 July 2011 3.0 371/365 Algoma
Algoma, Wisconsin
Algoma is a city in Kewaunee County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 3,357 at the 2000 census. Algoma is part of the Green Bay Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

103 23 October 2011 3.0.6 378/372 Peshtigo
Peshtigo, Wisconsin
Peshtigo is a city in Marinette County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 3,357 at the 2000 census. The city is located within the Town of Peshtigo. It is part of the Marinette, WI–MI Micropolitan Statistical Area...



Notes:
  • "Code names" in Finnix refer to the development cycle leading up to the release, and not the release itself. Releases are signified by version number.
  • Versions with two package counts in the table above represent x86 and PowerPC package counts, respectively.