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Old 07-21-2004, 06:56 AM   #1
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How to boot multiple distro's on CD from CD.

Question in short: How can I modify initrd's?

Longer explanation to that question:
What I want to do:
As you probably know, there are lots and lots of small Linux's for various purposes. I have some time right now to experiment a bit, so I want to try as many as possible.
I want to place 10-20 small distro's on one CD, when I boot from the CD I want a menu from where I choose which distro to run.
I believe this can be accomplished, I'm thinking about the way install-CD's work: at bootup choose an option and a kernel & initrd is selected for that option.
Problem is, how do I modify those initrd's? To make it more complicated, I'm sitting at a Windows-box all day, unpack .iso's work but then what?
(If it's easier I could reboot and run some live-Linux.)

Or am I wrong, will it not work? Is there any other way to do it?

Last edited by pingu; 07-21-2004 at 08:33 AM.
Old 07-21-2004, 08:26 AM   #2
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You don't need to modify the initrds of the various distros. You do need the boot information from the isolinux.cfg file of each distro.
I made a multi boot cdrom which uses the grub. RIP linux was used as the host system because it has a grub patch which allows it to boot cdroms.
Not all of the distros out there are cooperative for this project and because Knoppix based distros expect to find a KNOPPIX directory, it would be difficult to have more than one knoppix based distro on this cd. I access this knoppix distro a little differently than the other distros. I renamed the boot.img to knoppix.img and put it in a directory called images. Then you put an entry in the menu.lst similar to this...

title Feather Linux V0.3.7
kernel /boot/memdisk

That images directory is handy for accessing other goodies like the ones found on the Ultimate Boot CD.

I made a directory with sub directories which I copied each distro into. Then I made a working directory ( cdbase ) where the multi boot cd is built. This can be a bit time consuming and experimenting will show what does or doesn't work, use a R/W cdrom for this reason.
If you have more than one distro with the same kernel and / or initrd name, rename those for one of the distros. Don't forget to change the reference to that kernel and initrd in the menu.lst .

Grub Based Multi Boot CDROM

On this cd, grub expects to find the kernel and initrd in a directory. Therefore, I put them into the /boot directory which came with RIP.

The version of grub which comes with RIP didn't allow any extras like "default=" or "timeout=" or even blank lines.

Below is my /boot/grub/menu.lst

color light-gray/blue black/light-gray
title *=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=* R.I.P. *=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*
root (hd0)
title RIP V7.8
kernel /boot/kernel3
initrd=/boot/initrd3.gz vga=normal devfs=nomount load_ramdisk=1 init=/linuxrc prompt_ramdisk=0 root=/dev/ram0 rw
title Rescue CD V0.2.10
kernel /boot/vmlinuz1 video=i810fb:xres=800 acpi=off root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc nokeymap
title Feather Linux V0.3.7
kernel /boot/memdisk
Puppy Linux V0.8.4
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/ram0 ramdisk_size=55296 initrd_archive=ext2 PFILE=pup080-none-262144
title Slax Linux V4.0.1
kernel /boot/vmlinuz2 max_loop=255 init=linuxrc livecd_subdir=/ load_ramdisk=1 prompt_ramdisk=0 ramdisk_size=7777 root=/dev/ram0 rw
title Mulinux V14r0
kernel /boot/mulinuz root=/dev/ram0 ramdisk_size=4600 vga=normal max_scsi_luns=1
title Freedos V9
kernel /boot/memdisk
title Tomsrtbt Linux
kernel /boot/memdisk
title Ranish Tool V2.44
kernel /boot/memdisk
title Memtest
kernel /boot/memdisk

Once you have the systems loaded into the working directory ( cdbase ) and have the menu.lst setup, you can proceed as follows....

CD into the cdbase and type:
cdrecord dev=0,0,0 blank=fast

mkisofs -J -R -b boot/grub/iso9660_stage1_5 -c boot/ \
-o /home/bootcd.iso -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 32 -boot-info-table .
Note: that period ( . ) is important.

cdrecord -v speed=4 dev=0,0,0 -data /home/bootcd.iso

Sometimes these boot cdroms will not boot on all computers. That is mostly hit or miss from what I've seen. If you have that problem and you know that you did everything correctly, your bios may be fussy.

Last edited by homey; 07-21-2004 at 08:28 AM.
Old 07-21-2004, 10:13 AM   #3
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Location: Skuttunge SWEDEN
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That sounds great!

The reason for why I thought I'd have to change initrd is because I thought the distros were all supposed to run from the root directory.



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