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Old 02-17-2003, 12:48 AM   #1
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install questions: Slackware 8.1, Loadlin, bare.i

Hi. My first post. Rank newbie.

Downloaded Slackware 8.1 .iso, bare.i, and the that includes Loadlin. I am attempting to install on an old 486 that has no CDROM. I want to keep DOS on C: and boot from Loadlin for a while.

I found that I can get Loadlin to run if I use the zImage from bare.i (this PC has no math coprocessor, and little memory). I can get to partition the drive using cfdisk from Loadlin. I run Slackware setup, and it seems to go OK, installing to hda5, but somewhere during the install of the packages I see some messages fly by but the screen clears too quickly to read them completely, they complain about unable to write to /etc/fstab and also issues about mnt (but I cant read as quick as they fly by).
I get the message that install complete and reboot the machine.
I reboot, but then what? I am confused in that I am left running Loadlin again and the install bare.i. .

Also I see no opportunity to create a boot diskette from bare.i's setup's menu. I cant even tell if the install really went well. Sorry, I need some hand holding here.

If I reboot and run Loadlin with the kernel from the bare.i, I see the same directories as I had before I ran setup.

If I run du, I see only hda, the DOS partition.

So questions are:
1. How do I launch Loadlin to get to the installed Slack with a bare-kind of kernel ?

2. How can I tell if the install went well?

3. Can someone give me some step-by-step newbie directions.

Thank you all,
Old 02-17-2003, 08:17 AM   #2
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Denver
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That's a pretty tall order! I'm not sure what you ran to make your hard drive partitons with, but Linux (all of them) need at least 2 partitions (they usually have more and WILL have at least 3 if Windows/DOS is involved). The 2 critical partitons for Linux are the root and the swap partitions. If you do it right, hda is the physical hard drive where it will show hda1 set up as a FAT?? partiton (WITH the boot flag set), hda2 as probably a Linux partition, and hda3 as probably a swap partition. The swap is usually set to twice the size as the amount of RAM you have in your system (usually no bigger than 256meg too). If you boot Slackware with floppies and run the "cfdisk" program you should see something like that (fdisk is the other less friendly partitioning program with most Linux distros). If NOTHING shows up, then you have a BLANK hard drive! If you had stuff on it and want to recover it then STOP and get a utility that will re-establish the old partitions or have a professional data recovery company do it for you (it's a REAL pain in the backside if you've ever done this!!!). Anyway, once you get your partitons set up, you should be able to install a base system as well as the Linux loader "Lilo" (that's what Slackware uses as well as a LOT of other distros). Lilo will allow you to select which OS you want to run when you boot your computer so that's probably the best way to know if it "went well". The Linux kernel you are apparently using appears to be the "bare.i" which is a basic kernel that supports IDE drives and a whole bunch of other peripherials (when you really understand this stuff you can compile your own kernel to make things REALLY fly, but even I'm not quite ready for that). As far as step-by-step directions, about all I can offer are the following links (I too could probably write a book, but I'm NOT going to do it here :-) ):

The last link is one of MANY great sites for finding documentation. Hopefully, you don't get overwhelmed by all the writings. It's pretty easy but stay focused. Hope this helps. L8R...
Old 02-17-2003, 10:53 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

I used cfdisk to make a Linux partition (hda5) and a Linux swap partition (hda6). Sorry, I wasn't clear earlier.

So I think the problem is past that part. Running Slackware setup, I select the target partition (hda5) and format it, and enable the swap partition (hda6), select the packages, then start the install. Setup tells me that it is installing each package by name (ie, 'installing package ==>a<==', etc.), and then somewhere in a later package some error messages appear but the screen clears too quickly to get a good look.

- Is there like a log file that setup writes to that I can look at?
- Is there a way to run setup in text mode using the bare.i zImage? I couldnt find it... I typed 'text' at # but not valid.
- Am I dreaming, or does setup's Configure option from bare.i's not have the ability to create a boot diskette?

Thanks for any advice.
Old 02-18-2003, 06:40 AM   #4
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Denver
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Since you have a 486 with only a little RAM, you probably need to format and initialize the swap partition before continuing installing anything. To do that you need to run the mkswap and swapon utilities. Since you say your swap partition is "hda6" you would run the following commands:

# mkswapp /dev/hda6
# sync
# swapon /dev/hda6

The "mkswap" command will format the swap partition. The "sync" command will flush the filesystem buffers (you might not need to do this). And the "swapon" will initialize the swap partition and tell Linux to start using it. Afterwards, just run the setup program.

- If there is a log file of any kind, it will likely be in the /var/log directory. Try looking there if you had any errors.

- As far as running the setup in a "text mode" I don't think there is anything simpler. However, if you only have a black & white monitor and the color is causing problems you might want to try the command:


- I don't quite know what you mean by: "does setup's Configure option from bare.i's not have the ability to create a boot diskette?" The "bare.i" is a basic kernel that you can choose when making the boot/root disks as well as the same kernel you might want to use when actually installing Slackware Linux (there are others, and you can even compile your own if you really know what you're doing). The RAWRITE program also referes to "bare.i" but only so far as wanting to know what kernel you want to use (bare.i is a bare basic kernel that supports IDE drives whereas something like the bare.s selection would be it's equivalent but supporting only SCSI drives). RAWRITE is the utility to use when "making" any diskettes!

If you install Slackware using just diskettes then you probably will need 23 of them for the A and N series of packages. Use RAWRITE to make them from single image files named a1 to a14 and n1 to n9 (for example: the A-series' diskette-1 image file is called a1 and is located somewhere on a Slackware install CD or ftp site -- you use RAWRITE to extract the a1 image/file to a diskette just like you probably did for the "root" and "boot" diskettes).

On ther other hand, if you "install" Slackware to a hard drive then you should have been able to install LiLo (Linux Loader). Make sure you DON'T install Lilo to the MBR if you have Windows or MSDOS already on the hard drive (it probably won't do too much even if you do), but you WILL want to install Lilo to the partition marked as bootable (in this case, it's probably hda1 or whatever your FAT16 or FAT32 partiton is seen as). You can change the boot partiton to the Linux root partiton and install Lilo to load from there if you want (I'd use Linux's cfdisk utility to do it, but make sure that whatever partition you mark as bootable that you remember to install Lilo to boot from it -- and it CAN'T be the swap partiton either). The utility to configure Lilo is called liloconfig. However, I don't know if liloconfig is part of the A-series of support files -- probably not! Still, you can edit the Lilo configuration script in the /etc directory (most every script that's used when booting is located there or somewhere deeper). After editing /etc/lilo.conf you would simply type lilo from the command line to activate any changes and then reboot to see the changes.

I'm not sure if any of this helps, but I hope it clears up a few things. All the same, I would suggest reading a more authoritative source by looking at Slackware's web site:

Their book can be read online at:

Lastly, if you are trying to use loadlin then DEFINATELY none of this applies!!! That's because "LOADLIN is a DOS executable that can be used to start Linux from a running DOS system. It requires the Linux kernel to be on the DOS partition so that LOADLIN can load it and properly boot the system." That's a direct quote from chapter 7 of the above link. I do know that running Linux from a DOS/Windows partiton would be VERY SLOW! and since you have a 486 it might be "painfull" too (grin :-) )! I hope I haven't been spinning my wheels (or your's)...
Old 02-23-2003, 01:35 PM   #5
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Follow up the following week...

Thanks greatly for the advice Sparky. Things are working much better now!

The main problems were (a) I was a newbie flailing in the dark, and (b) setup kept on crashing, possibly because of insufficient memory.

So I gave up on the experimental "" distribution that is available from Slackware 8.1, and went with ZipSlack. A breeze. (PS, did not need to run 'setup' after installing ZipSlack). BTW also used the since I have only 8 Mg on the beast. So I figured if the fourmeg kernel will work with four meg it will work with 8.

And now with more Linux time under my belt <g>, I was able to copy the ZipSlack distribution onto a 'real' ext2 partition and boot to it, also using Loadlin.

I've also now installed a bunch of packages [to do this I mounted a iso file in the DOS partition as a CDROM], and my next challenges are getting PLIP working. Which probably means I need to rebuild the kernel. Wish me luck <gg>. You may see other new threads from me.



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