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Old 01-10-2002, 12:12 PM   #1
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Registered: Apr 2001
Location: Plymouth, England.
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What's the most difficult Linux installation you've ever done?

I'll start the ball rolling:

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to help my brother install a gateway distro (Mandy SNF) onto a fairly low-spec machine. He was tired of his (ahem, windows) machine having to be turned on the whole time for the rest of his shared house to access the internet. Here's my recipe for a 'fun' time:

Take one Pentium class machine, running at 110MHz. Find out that the onboard IDE and floppy controllers are both bust. Install an old ISA 'multi-IO' card. Find out that the ISA-based floppy controller is also bust. Take one CDrom drive, which because of the above problem, is not a bootable device. Take one 13Gbish harddisk, which has not got an OS on it, and never has. Take one old ISA 3-Com network card. Take one old ISA graphics card that can just about manage 640x480x256 colours. Install.

I had to put the harddisk in my current Linux box as hdc, use cfdisk (it's so much nicer than fdisk) to create a 5Mb primary partition and a 13Gb logical partition. Format neither. Mount the Mandy iso file and copy the boot-floppy disk image onto the 5Mb partition (dd if=/mnt/iso/images/all.img of=/dev/hdc1). Remove 13Gb harddisk and place in gateway machine.

Boot from floppy disk image on harddisk and install.

At first I thought all was going to go well. Then we seemed to hit a problem. I was hoping that Linux would find the CD device and allow us to install from there. Well, it found the cdrom (according the the boot screen), but when it came to installing, it goes 'What CDrom device?'. Arghhh! It turns out that if you go 'text expert' it will find the device and install from the CD absolutelty fine, but we didn't find that out until day 3.

We took the long route. We put the disk back into my Linux box and created 3 partitions: 1x5Mb, 1x650Mb, 1x12.5Gb.
dd if=/mnt/iso/images/all.img of=/dev/hdc1
dd if=/mnt/dvd/mandrakesnf.iso of=/dev/hdc5
. Again, would not install from harddisk (after much thinking, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn't have done anyway, so there wasn't much point in us trying, it just wasted some time). So instead of dding to hdc5, we formated hdc5 as ext2 and cped the iso file directly onto it. Yipee! It works! Ah, no it doesn't. My brother has, in my absence, decided to allow the install routine to 'use the whole harddisk' - good in theory, but how is it supposed to install files from an iso file that it's just deleted?

In the end, I discovered that 'text expert' install actually went smoothly from CD- even if it did take 4.5 hours for a distro whose iso file is only 280Mb!

Anyway, it all works, and he's happy with it. I even helped him set up samba (he wanted to use it as an mp3 server for his house aswell as a gateway).

Let's hear of your most nightmarish install, beit on your own machine, or someone else's.
Old 01-10-2002, 12:27 PM   #2
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Registered: Jan 2001
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mine i'll make short and simple..

Turbolinux install.. everything went smooth until i had to configure X on a old pentium 133 with a old Trident ( I think ) graphic card. The X config in Turbolinux is very bad, it will try to detect and if its wrong ( and from what I have seen, most of the time it is ), it just keeps going no matter what...
So it took a great while and I had to edit the XF86Config file by hand to get going... then a few days later.. I wiped it clean and installed Redhat..
Old 01-11-2002, 10:10 AM   #3
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Old Pentium-200 75 Mhz, 32 Mb EDO RAM, 3Gb western digital HD, S3 Trio32 video 1 Mb, unknown ISA modem (but it works!!!) and Mandy 8.1. Of course for such a peace of modern art I was able to use text install only, the basic package install took 9 hrs 02 mins and 48secs (measured), the configuration of no-name monitor took nearly 2 hrs after everything was done, but then I just posed for a moment and ... now I am running it as a firewall/router gateway for my DSL connection with RedHat7.2 installed and 3Com NIC (the most expensive part there $35), no GUI whatsoever, and it kicks butt!!!
Old 01-11-2002, 09:14 PM   #4
Registered: Oct 2001
Location: Stockbridge, south of Atlanta, GA
Distribution: Slackware
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The X config in Turbolinux is very
bad, it will try to detect and if its wrong ( and from what I have seen, most of the time it is ), it just keeps going no matter what...

i tried to gui install suse 7.3 on a cyrix 166mhz with 16mb of ram... it started smoking i think...

anyways i had to revert to text only and it installed the 93MB install (extremely basic)... after a few days i installed xf86 for the heck of it.. surprisingly it took!

that system is now used as my dedicated print server...

used to could run win95 on it ok...

dont know why it was so slow...
Old 02-14-2002, 06:57 PM   #5
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Registered: Jan 2002
Location: Knoxville, TN
Distribution: Mandrake 8.1
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SNF on a K6-233

I have had more problems with this install than I could imagine. From 4 cdroms that would not read a burned cd, 3 bad cd's, all burned at different speeds to try and be read, and all bad because the ISO was currupted during DL. Was getting IDE timeout errors, didn't figure out that was bad Image till I tried copying individual files from the ISO. I still have not gotten it running. I am on my third ISO dl and getting very frustrated with the problems.


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