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Old 08-26-2004, 12:29 AM   #1
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Kernel optimized for space

Okay first, heres what I'm doing: (If you don't want to read about it, and just want to know my problem, skip to the end)

I've got two 486 laptops and a 386 one. I've always wanted to put linux on there, but I never felt like putting stuff onto floppy disks (I'm very lazy) because they don't have cd drives. I guess I could take the hardrives out and hook them up to my desktop and do it that way, but that's no fun, ya know? So they sit there with DOS on them, and get no love from me.

I was reading some Linux sites the other day, when I got a link to LFS (Linux From Scratch) and decided to make my own distro aimed at those platforms, and to have it installed over floppies. So far I've got all the code etc etc seperated into seperate disks, and burnt to a CD (I only have one floppy left, so I'm just going to re-use it and put the stuff on it from my desktop)

The bootdisk loads the kernel, and it makes a ram disk with a compressed image containing the root FS on the floppy. I also want to have a graphical installer (just so I can brag) so I'm making a custom xorg that should fit on a floppy disk (I'm hoping to get it on the same bootdisk, I know it's possible, but it'll probably end up on a second disk) Then the installer copies a minium install over to the hardrive (It has some pretty GUI partitioning tools and junk too) and chroot's to it.

Then installer let's you choose what stuff to install (me and my revolutionary ideas) and I've made custom comments, like how much RAM the package takes up etc etc for all the stuff, and can fit from a 5MB HDD to about 300MB. (Still changing a few packages around etc) It also has stuff like a dependancy list blah blah.

Then, the installer tells you what disk(s) you'll need for the first package (not that it matters, but its binutils) and it copies the source (no packages, we need all speed possible on these machines) to the hardrive. It does a graphical compile, installs it, removes the source, finds out what it should compile next, then tells you what disk, then rinse and repeat as neccissary.

Theres alottttt of things you can choose from, alot custom coded to remove some bulk (er linux doesn't have bulk... it has love handles, or something)

So yeah, blah blah blah, if anyones interested in getting a copy (I doubt it, but worth mentioning) just reply and say so, otherwise I'll just keep it for myself.

OKAY so finally, my problem. The kernel is big. It doesn't really matter as much for the installed one, but for the one on the floppy it does. By configuring it to not support stuff like SCSI, considering I doubt too many 486's have them, etc etc, how small will I get the 2.4.26 kernel roughly? I would like to have it an up-to-date kernel, but I guess I could probably use a 2.0.x or something. Could I even compile the 2.4.26 kernel with a 2.0.x kernel? Bleh... I'm new to kernel compiling if you can't tell.

So basically, besides configuring, how can I reduce the RAM/physical space the kernel takes up? Or is configuring enough?
Old 08-26-2004, 12:35 AM   #2
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Registered: May 2003
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If you are really that low on the hardware scale, you can try to compile the 2.2 kernel and do a make zImage instead of a bzImage. bzImage came along when the hardware could load up the larger kernel... 166mhz as I recall. Around that time frame.

Slackware in it's earlier revisions did a good job of this, like 7.0. Your going back in time, so it'll take some tinkering if the distro just doesn't wanna cooperate at the get go.
Old 08-26-2004, 02:53 AM   #3
Registered: Jan 2004
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My suggestion is to modularize as much as possible. The kernel will then have modules to install when needed.

Theoretically that should reduce the size of the kernel. So when recompiling just make sure everything that can be put as a module is put as a module.


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