Testing Debian GNU/Hurd 0.6

It was so long since I last heard about GNU Hurd but most recent 0.6 release piqued my interest compare to last time as my laptop are powerful enough to test run in a virtualization environment.

Installation was done in Fedora 22 where I've spend most of my computing time. On a side note, Fedora, as a desktop Operating Ssytem, is way more integrated and stable compare to Ubuntu. To be more precise, user experience in Gnome 3 is just way better than Unity desktop, although the former came a long way, after being constant ridiculed before reaching that usable point.

Let's continue with the installation. We will run it as a Debian GNU/Hurd QEMU guest OS image. Before that, we will need to install all the necessary packages.
$ sudo dnf install aria2 qemu-system-x86

Download the image using Aria2 download client.
$ aria2c -x 4 http://people.debian.org/~sthibault/hurd-i386/debian-hurd.img.tar.gz
[#aa5de7 10MiB/380MiB(2%) CN:4 DL:380KiB ETA:16m34s]

Instead of using Wget download client, we can create an alias which point to Aria2 instead, as shown.
alias wget='aria2c -x 4'

Extract image file which is roughly around 3G.
$ tar -xz < debian-hurd.img.tar.gz
$ qemu-img info debian-hurd-*.img
image: debian-hurd-20150424.img
file format: raw
virtual size: 2.9G (3146776576 bytes)
disk size: 1.2G

Following the documentation to boot the Operating System through QEMU through the image file.
$ qemu-system-i386 -m 512 -net nic,model=rtl8139 -net user -drive cache=writeback,index=0,media=disk,file=$(echo debian-hurd-*.img)
WARNING: Image format was not specified for 'debian-hurd-20150424.img' and probing guessed raw. Automatically detecting the format is dangerous for raw images, write operations on block 0 will be restricted. Specify the 'raw' format explicitly to remove the restrictions.

As the console message stated, to remove restriction on write operations on block 0, we have explicitly specify disk format by adding -drive format=raw option.
$ qemu-system-i386 -m 512 -net nic,model=rtl8139 -net user -drive format=raw,cache=writeback,index=0,media=disk,file=$(echo debian-hurd-*.img)

Once you see the login prompt screen as shown below, login as root user and press enter. Password is not needed.


To enter into the GUI interface, start the Window Manager, which is IceWM. Note that to exit mouse grab within QEMU, just press CTRL+ALT+G.
$ startx


The screenshot above which reminds me of the early days of GNU/Linux where there are no desktop environment but just a bunch of Windows Managers. I'm always wonder when can we really use GNU/Hurd as an alternative or replacement to GNU/Linux distros? Next century perhaps? Yes, the development is that dog slow as most or all kernel developers are working on GNU/Linux.

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