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Old 08-30-2005, 10:07 AM   #1
Killdog
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Aug 2005
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 2

Rep: Reputation: 0
CD Boot/mount problems (Rank Newbie - Sorry)


Hello All,

This is my first post here and I am very new to Linux (I have a whole 8 days of experience) so if, or, more likely, when I say something stupid, you'll know why. I'm afraid that this post ended up being somewhat longer than I had intended. My apologies. I hope that won't put people off.

GOALS

I have very generously been given three old PCs by a friend. I know very little about Intel based hardware (most of my previous experience has been with Macs - I have worked in the Macintosh I.T industry for 15 years). Much of my Mac knowledge translates across but there are obviously large gaps and I am sure that they will become apparent.

My intention is to run a different Linux version on each of these three boxes. I have chosen:

1) Red Hat - Since I have a copy available and have friends who are familiar with it to some degree.
2) Debian (or a debian derivative) - Since I have been told it is good and I like the "apt-get" feature. If I go for a derivative, I was considering Ubuntu.
3) ??? - Undecided as yet but I have been advised that Mandrake is good and I have access to an Installer CD.

My aim is to get a wide cross section of Linux versions and thus gain as much experience as possible.

HARDWARE/SOFTWARE

Box 1

HARDWARE - Digital Venturis FX 5133, P1(?), 133MHz, 8MB RAM, 1GB HD, CDROM
SOFTWARE - Currently running Red Hat v7.0 but I will be changing this (if I can overcome my problem).

Box 2

HARDWARE - IBM Valuepoint 433DX/D, P1(?), 166Mhz(?), 32Mb RAM, 1GB HD, CDROM
SOFTWARE - Currently has some sort of firewall software on it (Smoothwall?). Again, I will be changing this if I can overcome my problem.

Box 3

HARDWARE - Unsure. I think it's a P1 again but it's just a generic box without any markings and I lack the knowledge to find out what processor it has and what the clock speed is. It is significantly faster than the other two boxes but that is all I know. It has 64MB RAM and a 3.2GB HD.
SOFTWARE - Currently running Red Hat 7.1 which I have just installed and will be keeping on this box unless someone gives me a good reason not to. I have been told that Red Hat is more resource hungry than most other Linux flavours so I chose to install it on the box with the most RAM/HD.

I will eventually be running all 3 boxes headless and accessing them remotely via SSH once I work out the kinks (I am not at all interested in running a GUI at this stage).

Although this is slightly off topic, I'd welcome any advice about which Linux flavours to run on which boxes, given the system specs.

OK, enough of background, onto my problem...

The first thing I did when I got all these machines, was to reinstall Red Hat 7.1 onto Box 3. This machine already had Red Hat 7.1 on it but it was someone's old system and I had no access to it. I reinstalled by simply putting the install CD into the drive and rebooting. It booted from the CD, erased the HD and reinstalled Red Hat without a hitch. So far, so good.

I then tried to install Ubuntu onto Box 1 but, even after fiddling with the BIOS settings so that it was set to boot from the CDROM first, it would boot from the HD every time. I decided that the Ubuntu Installer CD may be dead so I tried with the Mandrake Installer CD....same deal, it booted from the HD. I then tried with the Red Hat Installer CD (which I knew worked since I had just used it successfully on Box 3) but, once again, it booted from the HD. I double checked the BIOS settings, they seemed correct.

Since I couldn't get any CD to boot, I suspected a dodgy CDROM drive in Box 1 but I repeated this whole process on Box 2 with identical results. I decided that, although it was possible that both boxes had dead CDROM drives, it was unlikely. However, just to be sure, I repeated the process a third time on Box 3 (which I knew booted from the CD OK since I had just installed Red Hat 7.1 on it). To my surprise I got identical results. No matter what I did, it booted from the HD each time.

In order to check the CDROM drive in Box 1, I mounted the CD using the following...

mount -t iso9660 /dev/hdc /mnt/cdrom

(I believe that this is the correct command for mounting the CDROM)

I was then able to cd to /mnt/cdrom and browse the files on the CD. Unless I am badly mistaken, this means that the CD drive works.

So, what do I have that I know works?

1) A known good Red Hat 7.1 installer disk (Proof = Worked fine on my first attempt on Box 3)
2) A known good CDROM drive in Box 1 (Proof = I could mount the CD and browse the files)
3) A known good CDROM drive in Box 3 (Proof = I successfully used it to install RH on Box 3 only minutes before)
4) BIOS settings on all 3 Boxes that should ensure that the machine will boot from the CD first (Proof = boot order listed in BIOS settings is 1) CDROM, 2) Floppy, 3) Hard Drive).

Given that I can prove that the RH Install CD is good, the CDROM drives in Boxes 1 & 3 are working and that the BIOS settings for boot order are correct, I am at a complete loss to explain what is going on. If it was a Mac, I could force it to boot from the CD by holding down the "C" key on startup but if there is any sort of equivalent on a PC, I am unaware of it.

My gut feeling is that there is something dodgy going on with the BIOS but I can't be sure and, if there is, I have no idea what it might be. I'm afraid that my lack of experience with non-Mac Hardware is letting me down here.

Can anyone suggest what the problem might be? Any and all suggestions gratefully accepted.

On a slightly different, but related matter, as I mentioned above, in order to access the files on the CD, I had to mount the CD manually using the mount command. I was under the impression that CDs usually automounted. Is this the case?

In any event, it seems that CDs are not automounting for me. It is my understanding that the settings for this are located in the /etc/fstab file. Is this correct?

I took a look at my /etc/fstab file and found the following line...

/dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom iso9660 noauto,owner,ro 0 0

Now, I suspect that in order to make the CD automount, I would need to change the "noauto" to something else. Is this correct? If so, what do I need to change it to? auto? defaults?

I'm sure that this is pretty basic stuff but, unfortunately, as I said above, I am a total newbie and I have not yet worked this out.

Thanks in advance for you help.

Cheers,
KD
 
Old 08-30-2005, 11:15 AM   #2
Komakino
Senior Member
 
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Somerset, England
Distribution: Slackware 10.2, Slackware 10.0, Ubuntu 9.10
Posts: 1,938

Rep: Reputation: 53
You said you want to get the most linux experience and knowledge possible? Install slackware, it's the best way to learn.

As for the boot issue...can you completely disable booting from the hard disk in the BIOS and have the CD as the only boot device? That way I'm guessing it will either work or fail completely with some sort of error message.

Automounting is possible, and I think some distros like Mandrake use it. Personally I don't like it, and it does interfere with a few (very few) programs. I'm sorry I can't tell you how to turn it on.

Last edited by Komakino; 08-30-2005 at 11:18 AM.
 
Old 08-30-2005, 01:40 PM   #3
danimalz
Member
 
Registered: Jul 2005
Location: West Coast South, USA
Distribution: debian 3.1
Posts: 257

Rep: Reputation: 36
My compliments on a well done post (albeit a long one

You've done the things that id have done, im at a loss.

One question - how are u doing the reboot?

you might try

shutdown - h now

then power up with CD in the drive.

or maybe put the cd in and power off; then power on.


If I were you I would simply 'nuke' each hard disk with fdisk, or simply erase the whole damn thing. Not many people have the luxury of getting to do rm -rf / three times in one day on purpuse (that was supposed to be humor..)

Then install as you intended; get your installation media for debian and the other two you've decided on. If you're sticking with Redhat, Im not sure what to recommend, in terms of current versions, but certainly not 7.1.

If the CD's continue to refuse after nuking the HDs, you've got another option - most distros can start the installation process thru the floppy.


Another observation:

Your machines are very old, as you know. ( they all appear to be some release of Pentium 1) . That said, if your project is simply to have these different platforms to learn the OS, then they should be fine. In fact, any of those machines would be fine to run as a stand-alone server (add disk space) or firewall. I run an machine of your 'Box 2' class as a firewall plus samba server; runs great for my small network (it's running debian).


Last thing - Pls stick with this thread and let us know how it all comes out.

Cheers,
Danimalz
 
Old 08-31-2005, 04:25 AM   #4
Killdog
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Aug 2005
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 2

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
Thanks to danimalz and Komakino for your replies....

Quote:
One question - how are u doing the reboot?
I have been rebooting several different ways. Sometimes I have been using "poweroff" (followed by actually switching off the box), then restarting. Other times I have been simply using "reboot".

Do you think that the shutdown method might make a difference? I will try the shutdown command on my next attempt.

Quote:
If I were you I would simply 'nuke' each hard disk with fdisk, or simply erase the whole damn thing. Not many people have the luxury of getting to do rm -rf / three times in one day on purpuse (that was supposed to be humor..)
Yes, this had crossed my mind but I was worried that I would render the box useless since I can't seem to boot off any CD. If I can't make any progress in other areas, I will definitely try this.

I am familiar with the rm -rf command but I am not familiar with fdisk. Can you advise as to which would be preferable?

Quote:
If the CD's continue to refuse after nuking the HDs, you've got another option - most distros can start the installation process thru the floppy.
Yes, I have been told that I can make a boot/install floppy but I have little idea of how to go about it. I'd like to avoid this if possible but it remains an option if all else fails.

Quote:
Your machines are very old, as you know. ( they all appear to be some release of Pentium 1) . That said, if your project is simply to have these different platforms to learn the OS, then they should be fine
Yes, I should have said, my aim at this point is simply to learn as much as possible as fast as possible. I will not actually be using these boxes for any functional purpose.

Quote:
Last thing - Pls stick with this thread and let us know how it all comes out.
Thank you, I will.

Quote:
You said you want to get the most linux experience and knowledge possible? Install slackware, it's the best way to learn.
I am not familiar with slackware, in fact this is the first time I have heard the name mentioned. Can you outline exactly what it is about slackware that makes it the best for learning? Also, given my limited system specs, can I install and run it successfully?

Quote:
As for the boot issue...can you completely disable booting from the hard disk in the BIOS and have the CD as the only boot device? That way I'm guessing it will either work or fail completely with some sort of error message.
The version of the BIOS I have on Box 1 is PhoenixBIOS. I have been told that this is fairly uncommon. Unfortunately, you can't actually remove devices from the boot sequence, all you can do is shift them up or down in priority using the "+" or "-" keys.

For example, At the moment I have it set to the following...

1) CDROM
2) Floppy
3) HD

If I select floppy and hit the "+" key, Floppy would move up to slot 1 and CDROM would move to slot 2. You cannot actually disable any device, just move them up and down in the list.

PhoenixBIOS seems to work differently to other types of BIOS in this respect.

It would seem that my best bet may be to try a rm -rf and just cross my fingers that it will then boot from the CD. I'll give it a go and let you know how I go.

Once again, thank you both for your replies.

Cheers,
KD
 
  


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