A warning note about compact flash cards
Compared to a regular hard disk, compact flash cards have a very unusual geometry. A hard disk has 63 sectors per track, and leave a 62 sectors gap between the partition table and the first partition. For a 512 bytes sector size (the norm), this is about 31 KiB of "unusable" space on the disk. Since that space is normally unused, grub install by default it's core image in that gap area that is called the embedding space.
Since the compact flash card installed in The Gate report 16 sectors per track, this leave a gap of 15 sectors of 512 bytes, which means 7 KiB of the same "unusable" space. Grub cannot install it's core image in that space and complain about it during boot loader (re)installation, telling you that you should use block list to make it usable. During package installation/update/upgrade, grub will silently fail and leave your machine in an unbootable state.
To avoid the shortage of that useful "unusable" space, here is how you should partition the flash card:
- Delete all partitions
- Create a new partition of size between 31 KiB and 1 MiB
- Create the partition containing your root filesystem
- Create other partitions as needed
- DELETE the first partition (this is the crutial step)
- Format all partitions and proceed as desired.
- (re)install grub as usual
A cleaner alternative would involve creating partitions in GPT format, but the gdisk tool is not packaged in Debian "Squeeze".
 Root filesystem
Flashcard rootfs has been built with debootstrap (need to be updated: not current anymore)
debootstrap --include=openvpn,ssh,mc,aiccu,radvd,dmidecode,wireless-tools,bzip2,less,ddclient,etherwake,linux-image-686,whois,rsync,ppp,pppoeconf,arp-scan,sudo,screen,sed,nmap,lm-sensors,bridge-utils,acpi,firmware-linux-free,pciutils,grub,console-setup,quagga,acpid,hostapd,deborphan,telnet,lsof,libapache-gallery-perl,ntpdate,cron-apt,mpd,alsa-utils,ncmpc,mpc,cryptsetup,cryptmount,pwgen,tcpdump,dma,rkhunter,rssh,sipcalc,genisoimage,wide-dhcpv6-server,bind9,tftpd-hpa squeeze /mnt/usb
/dev/sda1 / auto noatime,errors=remount-ro 1 1 proc /proc proc defaults 0 0 /tmp /tmp tmpfs nosuid,nodev 0 0 /var/tmp /var/tmp tmpfs nosuid,noexec,nodev 0 0 # list cache. Rebuild it with apt-get update aptlist /var/lib/apt/lists tmpfs noexec,nosuid,nodev 0 0 # This is the apt cache. Must be cleaned once in a while with apt-get clean aptcache /var/cache/apt tmpfs noexec,nosuid,nodev 0 0 # The documentation is somewhere else. Save space. :-) usrsharedoc /usr/share/doc tmpfs noexec,nosuid,nodev 0 0 # The manpages are elsewhere usrshareman /usr/share/man tmpfs noexec,nosuid,nodev 0 0 /dev/mapper/cswap none swap sw 0 0 /dev/mapper/srv /srv auto nosuid,nodev,noexec 1 2
/etc/default/grub: An extra option must be added to the kernel command line to make sure the kernel can access the compactflash cards on the IDE bus. This option disable DMA for compactflash while leaving it on for IDE CD-ROM and IDE harddisks
Rebuild grub config with update-grub