status on remote-boot and PPC

Eric A. Ayer mwalker at ee.pdx.edu
Tue Apr 11 00:43:50 PDT 2000


>> I've been hearing people ask about making a bootdisk for LFS, and now I am
>> actually starting to work on it.  Perhaps this could become part of the HOWTO
>> soon.
> 
> I have plans on making more than just a bootdisk. More like an entire
> linux-on-floppy-distribution. I know, there are many of those out there.
> There are also many normal distro's out there. LFS is just an addition
> to all those available (but in it's own special way). LFS on floppy
> would be nice to complete things. And it never hurts to have a resque
> disk of some sort anyways.

The difference between this and other floppy/rescue disks is that this has to
have the capability to compile the statically-linked packages at least.  This
is, of course, going to take a lot more than one or two floppies!

Since this is LFS, the floppies (and other media) have to be easily creatable,
just like LFS.  So in the end, downloadable disks will be nice, but the inst-
ructions for making them HAVE to be included.

> <cut possible implementation>
> 
> Sounds promising, a lot like what I had (and still have) in mind. I was
> thinking along the lines of just downloading stuff on a Windows box. You need 
> to have at least one OS installed to download stuff and I
> assume that only one computer is available. We can't go assuming that
> everybody has more than one computer to his or her disposal. Everything
> needs to be done using one single machine. If you already have Linux
> installed, you use Linux and the current HOWTO to get things installed.
> If you don't have Linux, you'll have MS Windows installed (or Mac OS)
> which will be used to download the software from the Internet and store
> it on the FAT16 or FAT32 partition. The LFS-floppy-set will be used to
> start a mini Linux system, mounts the fat partition so we have access to
> the downloaded packages. I guess along with a bootdisk there will be a
> couple of extra disks, possibly gzipped. My initial idea (but I'm open
> for suggestions) was to create a RAM disk of say 25MB (I have to assume
> that everybody has 32MB or more RAM. Else things will get tricky) and
> unzip the contents of those floppies into the RAM drive. Utilities as
> lilo, compiler and other basic utilities will be unpacked on the RAM
> drive so we can start building.

I want to make this as dynamic as possible, and that's why I'm thinking along
the lines of having ext2-in-a-files.  That way, they can reside on a dos or
windows partition (mounted after boot), on a CD (CDRs are kind of common), or
networked computer (server).  This is the only way I see to allow for owner-
ship of files, links, and permissions, and it is also the only way I see to
allow for directories to be mounted over the ram-disk directories.

I don't think it will be possible to load enough of the system into RAM to be
able to compile.  This would require that all the libraries from glibc be in
RAM for starters, and obviously the packages aren't going to fit in RAM.  If
the packages are on another media, why not but chunks of the operating system
on the other media and mount them?

> sounds great, but how would you create such a file when all you have at
> your disposal is Windows. I suppose we can make such file(s) available
> for download and use that file to mount when booted from floppy.

If the user only has windows available (poor soul :) then they would have to
download ext2-files from somewhere (here) and mount them after bootup through
the loopback device.  That's the same no matter how it's done - without linux
they have to download a disk system to run.

> Eric, you can start building right away (and save me some time later on
> as well ;) but if you want it to make the HOWTO, it must meet the above
> stated criteria. In short:
> - The LFS-floppies are to be a small replacement for not having an already 
>   installed Linux distribution
> - The software needs to be downloaded, so for this project MS Windows is
>   assumed (things need to be rewritten a bit for the Mac I suppose, so
>   Michael, if you're bored in a little while from now...;) so the kernel
>   on the bootfloppy must be able to mount fat16 and fat32 partitions.
>   Possibly even NTFS in case somebody has Windows NT.

These are already goals of this project.  With a kernel (boot) disk, there
will be room for drivers of any partition type, and if there aren't, multiple
boot disks can be made available.  Maybe one kernel disk will have the NFS and
samba drivers present...

> Now we can either create a number of floppies and uncompress their
> contents to a RAM disk, or we can create a file-system-in-a-file that's
> downloaded and mount it. The latter one would be better since it doesn't
> require a huge amount of memory. It doens't matter whether you download
> those needed programs in a loopback file or as 5 floppies (or whatever
> amount would be necessary).

I will have to see whether putting everything in RAM is possible, but I doubt
it will be.  We'll see.  If it is possible, but only if one has a lot of RAM,
perhaps two versions will be available.  I do however want to support low-
memory machines.

> These are my 2 cents. Clearly they aren't thoroughly thought through, so
> I have no idea if these ideas are workable. Perhaps before you actually
> start building you can post an outline of how you think you're going to
> do it. We could solve a lot of potential problems that way. Or not.
> Whatever prefer (I for one would just start and see what happens, solve
> problems as they arise).

Sure, I'll keep the list updated with my progress, and I will make my "design
log" available as well.

Sorry about the tons o' text, but I'm pretty excited about this :)

					-Erik

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