Expanding x86 OpenWrt Root Partition

The root partition of the official x86 OpenWrt image is not very big, about 50 MiB.  Many find it too small after installing a few add-on packages.  Here I will cover the steps to expand it.  The resultant image can be used in a live USB (see Easy Live USB for x86 OpenWRT) or copied to a hard disk.

Procedure Outline

  1. Get an uncompressed disk image.
  2. Pad image to desired size
  3. Attach the image file to a loop device
  4. Edit image partition table to enlarge the root partition
  5. Resize the file system in root partition
  6. Detach the image from the loop device.

All commands below are run in Bash.

Uncompress Image File

Use whichever method you like to download an image file from OpenWrt (http://downloads.openwrt.org) and uncompress it using gzip.  For example, these two commands download and uncompress the 10.03.1-rc6 disk image.

bash$ wget --quiet http://downloads.openwrt.org/backfire/10.03.1-rc6/x86_generic/openwrt-x86-generic-combined-ext2.img.gz
bash$ gunzip openwrt-x86-generic-combined-ext2.img.gz

Alternative, you can just copy an image file from a live USB flash drive.  This will save you the trouble of restoring custom configurations.

Pad Disk Image

The next step is to use “dd” to increase the size of the disk image.

bash$ dd if=/dev/zero bs=1M count=50 >> openwrt-x86-generic-combined-ext2.img

This command appends 50 MiB of zeros to the end of the disk image:  “if=/dev/zero” tells dd to copy data from /dev/zero; “bs=1M” sets the block size to 1 MiB (1024*1024 bytes); “count=50” tells dd to copy 50 blocks.

Attach to Loop Device

Note:  All commands from this point to the end need to be run by a user with root privilege.

These commands find an unused loop device and attach it to the image file.

bash$ loop_dev=`losetup -f`
bash$ echo $loop_dev
bash$ losetup $loop_dev openwrt-x86-generic-combined-ext2.img

The first command uses “losetup -f” to find an unused device and stores the result in the shell variable loop_dev.  The “echo” command shows the device found.  Finally “losetup” attaches the device to the disk image.

Edit Partition Table

To expand a disk partition, it needs to be deleted first.  A new, larger partition is then created to take its place.  This new partition must start from the same sector as the old to prevent loss of data.

fdisk is used to manipulate the disk partition table.

bash$ fdisk -u=sectors -c=dos $loop_dev

The -u option asks fdisk to list partitions in sectors.  The -c option tells fdisk to operate in DOS compatibility mode.  $loop_dev is the loop device attached to the image file.

To see the existing partitions, type “p” at the fdisk prompt.

Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/loop3: 107 MB, 107437568 bytes
16 heads, 63 sectors/track, 208 cylinders, total 209839 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

      Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/loop3p1   *          63        9071        4504+  83  Linux
/dev/loop3p2            9135      107855       49360+  83  Linux

fdisk shows /dev/loop3 has 209839 sectors.  It also lists two partitions.  The first one, /dev/loop3p1, is a small boot partition.  The second, /dev/loop3p2, is the root partition.  The root partition starts from sector 9135.  Make a note of this number.

Now delete the root partition and create a new one that covers all available space.

Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1-4): 2

Command (m for help): n
Command action
   e   extended
   p   primary partition (1-4)
Partition number (1-4, default 2): 2
First sector (9072-209838, default 9072): 9135
Last sector, +sectors or +size{K,M,G} (9135-209838, default 209838): 209838

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

The “d” command asks fdisk to delete a partition, and “2” selects the second partition for deletion.  The “n” command asks fdisk to create a new partition.  “p” specifies a primary partition, and “2” selects the second primary partition.  The first sector of this partition is sector 9135, same as the deleted partition.  Its last sector is sector 209838, the default choice.  This is also the last sector on /dev/loop3.  Finally, the “w” command writes the new partition table through /dev/loop3 to the disk image.

Resize Root File System

The following commands will expand the root file system to the size of the root partition.

bash$ kpartx -a $loop_dev
/dev/mapper/loop3p1: mknod for loop3p1 failed: File exists

The “kpartx -a” command creates device nodes for the partitions in the disk image.  The output of “kpartx –a” (“mknod for loop3p1 failed”) seems to be a bug in my system.  As far as I can tell, the creation and deletion of loop3p1 occur normally.

Another thing worth noting:  kpartx and fdisk use different naming conventions.  kpartx uses “/dev/mapper/device_name”, for example “/dev/mapper/loop3p1”.  fdisk uses “/dev/device_name”, such as “/dev/loop3p1”.  This is because kpartx works with the device mapper.

Now run “fsck” to check the file system before resizing it.  In fact, some file systems can’t be resized until they are checked.

bash$ fsck -f /dev/mapper/loop3p2
fsck from util-linux 2.19.1
e2fsck 1.41.14 (22-Dec-2010)
Filesystem did not have a UUID; generating one.

Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes
Pass 2: Checking directory structure
Pass 3: Checking directory connectivity
Pass 4: Checking reference counts
Pass 5: Checking group summary information

/dev/mapper/loop3p2: ***** FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED *****
/dev/mapper/loop3p2: 957/6000 files (0.2% non-contiguous), 8173/49152 blocks

The “-f” option forces a run even when the file system seems clean.
Finally, resize the root file system.

bash$ resize2fs /dev/mapper/loop3p2
resize2fs 1.41.14 (22-Dec-2010)
Resizing the filesystem on /dev/mapper/loop3p2 to 100352 (1k) blocks.
The filesystem on /dev/mapper/loop3p2 is now 100352 blocks long.

bash$ kpartx -d $loop_dev

After resizing, “kpartx -d” reverses the changes made by “kpartx -a”.

Detach From Loop Device

The final step is to detach the image file from the loop device.

bash$ losetup –d $loop_dev

That’s it.  The disk image is now ready to be used in a live USB or copied to a hard disk.