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Old 01-21-2006, 02:46 PM   #1
yottabyte james
LQ Newbie
Registered: Dec 2005
Distribution: DSLinux,Fedora core 3,mandriva 2005 LE 10.2,auditor security collection
Posts: 9

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Damn Small Linux errors?

Hello...I am trying to get some errors on DSL Linux figured out

I have an old old 486 computer that i want to *install* Damn Small Linux on it, rather than run it off of the live CD everytime. When i try to install it i can get the screen that says DSL on it and then i press F2 for more options, type in something like...DSL Tohd=/dev/hda1...And i get past that screen going to a installing screen and it begins to install.It USED TO say something about it is not able to mount or something and it fails,and the it just goes into loading it into the ram rather then installing.. But now i completely cannot get it to run DSL!

I have tried many things and i am very confused. I now have another problem, and i am not sure how i got it. When it boots up without any CDs or floppies it says "no rom basic system halted". Now i looked that up and it says "Cause:

No active partition has been defined in fdisk, hard disk drive not setup properly, or hard disk drive is bad."

I know the hard disk drive isn't bad because i was just able to use it before i formatted it a bit before all this junk happend...and i can't get to fdisk( fix the partitions) because i can't get it to boot off of the boot floppy and go into command prompt.

Also everytime i leave the system off for a bit it will make me have to reconfigure the AMIBIOS because of low battery( i don't have a special battery like that otherwise i would have replaced it.When i go into the BIOS it makes me reconfigure the c:drives' info like cylinders,heads,and stuff,a:drive,and B:drive,i do that then save to CMOS and exit.

After that it will give me the "No ROM basic system halted" error. (whether or not i have a cd or floppy in)

The 486 specs are something like this (not to sure)

486 processor
9mb ram i think
214mb hard disk drive (Cseagate model-ST3243A,1024 cylinders,12 heads, 34 sectors, 3800RPMs
1.44 floppy A: drive
old 5 1/2" floppy drive 360kb i think (B
old CD ROM drive(don't know any specs of it)
and that's all i know
Old 01-21-2006, 03:42 PM   #2
Registered: May 2005
Location: Switzerland
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 448

Rep: Reputation: 38
Okay, let's start at the beginning... What you tried to do may well have screwed up your harddrive a little bit, but there's nothing that can't be solved as of yet (I don't know what else you did to the system, of course - the battery thing sounds a little odd to me...).

First thing: DSL is not an installation CD - to install it, you'd have to run it as a live CD first, the install script works from a running system only. Trouble is, DSL needs a previously formatted partition to be installed to. Besides, how you booted to DSL with only 8MB (or so) of RAM, I don't really know, but it's sort of a nice feat...

What you actually did when you entered "dsl tohd=/dev/hda1" was to try and copy the CD image to HD to be able to run from there - next to installing, that's a nice choice you have with DSL; you'll need a boot disk to achieve that, though. BUT it seems as if you didn't have any HD ready for the task of accommodating that image. You'll have to partition first, and I personally fear that 215MB of harddisk will be a little low, but for "tohd", it's sufficient, so this might be a good choice.

However, you'll have to (re-)partition your hard disk first. I doubt that this'll be doable with a GUI tool - if you've got the capacity to try, I'd recommend the Gparted live CD, but I don't think it'll run smoothly when DSL doesn't. So, I'd go for console based toolset instead. There are several of them; if you've got a working network connection (or like to try if you have), use Ultimate Boot CD; or else, any kind of rescue disk will do (like RIP - Rescue Is Possible which has cfdisk for partitioning) or you can use TOMSRTBT if you like, but that might be a little tough to start with. To sum it up: You'll just have to get a minimal system running from RAM to look at your HD and then do the partitioning. You'll need a partition formatted for Linux (ext2/ext3) or FAT32 (not NTFS) to start over. I'd recommend ext2 in this case - it's what DSL would choose by itself.

If you'd like to boot from the floppy instead of from the CD, you'll have to change the BIOS settings concerning the boot chain - choose "floppy" instead of "CD" to achieve that. Then you should be able to use old Windows rescue material, too. But Ultimate Boot CD should do the trick, too. After that, try "tohd=/dev/hda1" again.

If that doesn't work (and I'm pretty sure it won't because you're short on RAM as it is), you might want to try installing a minimal system - for instance by using Debian or Slackware boot disks if you can find them...

The moment you can get DSL up and running, do what is called a frugal install on the hard disk you prepared - that way it shouldn't take up to much space.

Last edited by MoonMind; 01-22-2006 at 01:39 AM.


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