Thu Sep 30 12:07:12 2004 Installing
Fedora Core 2 without a bootable CDROM drive
Posted by Dirk Hart
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The other day I got my hands on an old Pentium 90 server. It's an old machine but so well made I still really like it. Anyways It had an install of Caldera OpenLinux on it, which ran quite well, but that I wanted to try Fedora Core 2. I ordered up some CDROMs which arrived in due course so I slapped Disc 1/4 Install in the CDROM drive and looked around for a bootable image which wasn't too hard to find as it was in /images. Curious though that the size of the image was 6,291,456 bytes - far larger than any floppy I ever saw! How was I going to solve this little dilemma?
A little rummaging around on the 'net showed that I could hack at LILO (which is what was used by OpenLinux) and achieve a satisfactory result. So I did put in stuff that seemed sensible at the time and rendered the machine unbootable. I suppose I could have taken out the OpenLinux bootable install diskette and made the system bootable again, but I didn't want to muck around with OpenLinux, I wanted to muck around with Fedora.
A little more rummaging around on the net revealed that LoadLin
is a commonly accepted way of running linux. It seems to be
intended for folks who like to boot linux from DOS or Windows. But
I had also noted while surfing the web that the initial program to
run is vmlinuz and that it requires initrd.
vmlinuz is a virtual memory (hence vm) linux kernel that is compressed (hence z). This compressed kernel has a 'self-extractor' built in so the first thing it does is expand itself back into vmlinux. initrd is the bit that loads an initial ram disk (hence initrd). The ram disk contains drivers and such that may be needed to run your machine.
So I downloaded LoadLin and put it onto a DOS formatted floppy. And with a certain remorse I took out the Windows Emergency Boot diskette that has CDROM drivers on it and started it up. The floppy drive showed up as A:, the ramdisk as C: and the cdrom as D:. So I flipped out the boot diskette and whipped in the loadlin diskette and typed in:
loadlin d:isolinux\vmlinuz initrd=d:isolinux\initrd.img
backslashes and all.
And much to my delight, away it went.
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