Install Debian on the Linkstation Pro/Live

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Starting with Debian 5.0 "Squeeze", Debian supports the Linkstation Pro/Live out of the box and can be installed using debian-installer. The following guide was adapted from the Debian on Kurobox Pro Installation Guide by Martin Michlmayr (tbm) and Per Andersson (avtobiff).

Nuvola apps important.png 

At the time of writing, Squeeze is the testing distribution of Debian. It is suitable for development and testing but is not yet recommended for installation on production machines.

Make a backup

Before you begin, make a backup of any important data you have saved on the Linkstation so that you can safely format the disk during installation.

Download the installer

The installer for the Linkstation platform is provided as a kernel and ramdisk that contain a minimal installation environment. Most of the installer components are downloaded from the Internet on an as-needed basis.

Squeeze has not yet been released, so official installation images aren't available. Daily builds of debian-installer are available that contain the most recent updates and bug fixes.

On your Linkstation, make a backup of the existing kernel and ramdisk and download the latest installer images:

cd /boot
mv uImage.buffalo uImage.buffalo.old
mv initrd.buffalo initrd.buffalo.old

DNS in Buffalo firmware

If your Linkstation is still running the original Buffalo firmware, DNS resolution may not work. To fix this, edit /etc/nsswitch.conf and change the line

hosts: files


hosts: files dns

An easy way to make the change is to issue the following command which overwrites the entire file:

echo "hosts: files dns" > /etc/nsswitch.conf

TFTP installation

If you don't have a working system on your Linkstation or you don't want to put the installer on your hard disk, the images can also be booted via TFTP.

Run the Debian preparation script

The config-debian script checks the Linkstation and prepares it for booting the installer. If your firmware is very old, you may be asked to update it to the latest version from Buffalo's downloads site before continuing.

While still in /boot on the Linkstation, the following command will run the script:

sh config-debian

Missing U-boot tools

If you don't have any commands installed for modifying the U-boot configuration (the script checks for nvram and fw_setenv) you can use foonas-em as a platform for running the the script, since it includes fw_setenv.

Install Debian

Once the uImage and initrd are in /boot, rebooting the Linkstation will automatically start debian-installer. The installer takes some time to start and beeps once when it is ready. The Linkstation acquires an IP address using DHCP (picking up static IP configuration from the Buffalo firmware is not possible at this time). It starts network-console automatically and is reachable over SSH with username installer and password install.

From this point on the installation follows the standard Debian procedure as laid out in the installation guide. The installer automatically performs tasks needed to make the Linkstation bootable, including updating uImage.buffalo and initrd.buffalo and installing micro-evtd for fan and watchdog control.

Partition layout

Guided partitioning

Choose the option Guided - use entire disk to automatically partition the disk, erasing any data already on it. The installer automatically creates a layout that is compatible with U-boot's requirements.

Custom partition layout

If you choose to use a custom partition layout, make sure you have the first partition as /boot and the second as / and that /boot uses the ext2 filesystem, as this is the layout that U-boot expects.

Package selection

By default the Standard task is selected for installation. This includes the bash-completion package, which can make logins take a very long time on the slow Linkstation. Deselect the Standard task to speed up logins by omitting this package.

Select the OpenSSH server task to guarantee that you can log into the Linkstation via SSH after the installation completes.


After following these steps you should have a Debian system running on your Linkstation and you can use apt-get or aptitude to install additional software.