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How to install Zeroshell on a Soekris Net5501 network appliance

Soekris Net5501 is a very compact and low power consumption x86 based network device with 4 FastEthernet onboard. It has been specifically designed to act as network appliance such as a router, a firewall, a VPN concentrator, a VoIP PBX.
The precense of a MiniPCI expansion allow to use this device as Wi-Fi Access Point by using a wireless network card configured in master mode. On the other hand, adding a multiport card lan1641 in the PCI slot it is possible to have a total of 8 FastEthernet interfaces.
In addition to SATA, IDE and USB 2.0 connectors, it is available a CompactFLASH socket to allow the boot from this type of memory flash.
It is now easy to realize that the Net5501 is a good candidate to be used with Zeroshell to build network appliances. Hence, the following paragraphs show how to write an image of Zeroshell on a CompactFlash and how to configure the Net5501 to boot from it.

Prepare the CompactFlash

To prepare a CompactFlash to boot Zeroshell, you need to download a CF image from the download section on a PC with Linux or Windows with a USB CompactFLASH Reader/Writer attached:
  • if you are using a Linux system, read the FAQ "How can I start ZeroShell from Compact Flash?".

    Note: BE CAREFUL when using the dd command. If you select the wrong device and mistakenly write on the disk instead of the CF, you will destroy all the data present. To understand which device corresponds to your CF/USB adaptor, after connecting, use the dmesg command;
  • if instead you are using a Windows system, you must physically write the image on the Compact Flash with a tool such as physdiskwrite by Manuel Kasper. Use with care this utility, because also in this case, if you do not specify the correct device you could destroy your data. You just have to type the following command the dos prompt:

    physdiskwrite zeroshell-compactflash.img.gz

    Notice that this tool automatically recognize that the image is gzipped and uncompress it before writing.
Now you can plug the CompactFlash you have just written in the socket of the Soekris Net5501.

Set up the serial console for Zeroshell

Zeroshell can use a serial console with a speed of 38400bps. To set this on Net5501, you must enter in the BIOS setup mode by pressing CRTL-P after power-on and make the following settings:

       set ConMute=Enabled
       set ConSpeed=38400

Access to the web interface

To access to the web interface of Zeroshell, you have to connect a PC, configured with an IP address belonging to the subnet 192.168.0.0/255.255.255.0 (for example 192.168.0.1), to the first FastEthernet of the Net5501. At this point, in your browser, you have to type th URL https://192.168.0.75 to use the web interface. The username is admin and the default password zeroshell.



    Copyright (C) 2005-2013 by Fulvio Ricciardi