Installing Debian on GLAN Tank

Intel's IOP platform is no longer supported in Debian.

While the GLAN Tank is supported in Debian 7 (wheezy), it is no longer supported in Debian 8 (jessie) or later releases.


In order to install Debian on a GLAN Tank, you need the following:

  • A GLAN Tank (SOTO-HDLGW). In theory, devices from the HDL-Gxxx, HDL-GWxxx and HDL-GZxxx series are very similar and might work but in practice only the GLAN Tank is tested.
  • An IDE hard drive for the installation.
  • Either an external USB enclosure for the hard drive or a PC in which you can temporarily put the hard drive. This is needed because you have to prepare the hard drive for installation.
  • Another machine on which you have an SSH client. Every Linux distribution includes an OpenSSH client and there is PuTTY for Windows.
  • Ideally, you'd have another machine on which you can run a DHCP server but this is not strictly necessary.


Since the GLAN Tank can only boot from an internal hard drive (and not, for example, from the network) you need to manually put some files needed to start Debian's installer on the hard drive you wish to use for the GLAN Tank. The easiest way to do this is to put the IDE hard drive into an USB enclosure and connect it to your PC. Alternatively, you can also put the hard drive directly into your PC.

Once your hard drive is connected to your PC, you need to partition it. The specific layout doesn't matter because you will re-partition the hard drive during the installation anyway, but for now you need one partition (hda1, the first primary partition on the IDE drive) on which to put the installation files.

Using fdisk or a similar utility, you can create one partition on your disk with about 100 MB. Note that when you put the drive into an USB enclosure, it will be detected as sda or sdb. In the following example, we have an empty 8 GB disk on which we create one partition with 100 MB:

sudo fdisk /dev/sdb
Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/sdb: 8700 MB, 8700346368 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 1057 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System

Command (m for help): n
Command action
   e   extended
   p   primary partition (1-4)
Partition number (1-4): 1
First cylinder (1-1057, default 1): 1
Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (1-1057): +100M

Command (m for help): write
The partition table has been altered!

Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Syncing disks.

Now that the partition has been created, we can format and mount it:

sudo mke2fs /dev/sdb1
sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt

Now you need to download the files needed for the installation and copy them to the hard drive:

cd $HOME
sudo cp initrd /mnt
sudo cp zImage /mnt

Finally, you can unmount the drive, take it out of your USB enclosure or PC and put it in the GLAN Tank.

Starting the installation

You can perform the installation of Debian by connecting to your GLAN Tank via SSH. The files you have just copied to the hard drive include an installer image that will start a SSH server and allow you to connect over the network. By default, the installer will ask a DHCP server in your network for an IP configuration. Ideally, you would have a DHCP server which provides the GLAN Tank with all necessary information, such as IP and gateway, as well as information such as the hostname. If the installer cannot find a DHCP server on your network, it will fall back to a static configuration, namely the IP address and a gateway and name server at If neither DHCP is available to you nor will these static values work in your case, you need to preseed other values into your installer image.

After you turn your GLAN Tank on, you have to wait for about 5 minutes before you can connect via SSH. Once SSH is available, you can connect with the following command and log in with the password install:

ssh installer@

Installing Debian

The installation itself should be pretty standard and you can follow the installation guide. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that the GLAN Tank requires a /boot partition as hda1 and assumes that the root partition is on hda2. If you following the guided partitioning, which I recommend, the installer will create an appropriate partition layout for you:

Guided Partitioning

Guided Partitioning: choosing the disk

Partitioning: overview

The whole installation will take about one hour. After the installation is complete, you will be able to log in as root.

After the installation, you can login to your newly installed Debian system as root or the user you created during the installation via SSH.


Note that kernel support is still very basic. It lacks support for:

  • Fan control
  • LEDs
  • Beeper