Installing Debian packages on the empeg

17 Jun 2022 06:53 empeg

Sometimes you need to install a binary on your empeg. In my case, I wanted strace.

The empeg runs a really stripped-down installation of Debian 2.2 (potato), so we can grab packages from the Debian archive. The packages are usually pretty large (in 1999 terms), and none of the dpkg machinery exists on the player, so it makes sense to unpack the files on a “proper” Linux box first, delete the bits we don’t need, and then upload the files to the player.

Important: Do all of this in a scratch directory: mkdir tmp ; cd tmp.

The first thing we need to do is figure out where the strace package is:

zcat Contents-arm.gz | less

Search for Package: strace. Then, just below that, look for Filename:. It looks like this:

Package: strace
Depends: libc6 (>= 2.1.2)
Filename: dists/potato/main/binary-arm/utils/strace_4.2-4.deb

We can download that file:


Now, because we can’t just dpkg -i foo.deb on the empeg, we’ll need to unpack the files using ar:

ar p strace_4.2-4.deb data.tar.gz > strace_4.2-4.tar.gz

Then we need to repackage just the bits we need (omitting the docs and manpages, for example):

tar xfz strace_4.2-4.tar.gz
tar cvfz strace_4.2-4-minimal.tar.gz usr/bin

The exact list of files you need will vary; this’ll do for strace.

Then send the files to the empeg, as described here.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that strace slows down the process being traced. On the empeg, that means it’s really slow.