Welcome to Linux Knowledge Base and Tutorial
"The place where you learn linux"
Let The Music Play: Join EFF Today

 Create an AccountHome | Submit News | Your Account  

Tutorial Menu
Linux Tutorial Home
Table of Contents

· Introduction to Operating Systems
· Linux Basics
· Working with the System
· Shells and Utilities
· Editing Files
· Basic Administration
· The Operating System
· The X Windowing System
· The Computer Itself
· Networking
· System Monitoring
· Solving Problems
· Security
· Installing and Upgrading
· Linux and Windows

Man Pages
Linux Topics
Test Your Knowledge

Site Menu
Site Map
Copyright Info
Terms of Use
Privacy Info
Masthead / Impressum
Your Account

Private Messages

News Archive
Submit News
User Articles
Web Links


The Web

Who's Online
There are currently, 229 guest(s) and 0 member(s) that are online.

You are an Anonymous user. You can register for free by clicking here



Current HOWTO: 4mb Laptop HOWTO

4mb Laptop HOWTO: The Laptops Next Previous Contents

2. The Laptops

This section describes the laptops that I have used this procedure on, the problems faced when installing Linux on them and the solutions to those problems (in outline).

2.1 Basic Specifications

Compaq Contura Aero

  • 25MHz 486SX CPU
  • 4mb RAM
  • 170mb Hard Disk
  • 1 PCMCIA Type II slot
  • External PCMCIA 3.5" Floppy drive
    The PCMCIA floppy drive has a proprietary interface which is partly handled by the Aero's unique BIOS. The Linux PCMCIA drivers can't work with it. According to the PCMCIA-HOWTO, if the drive is connected when the laptop boots it will work as a standard drive and Card Services will ignore the socket but it is not hot-swappable. However, I found that the drive becomes inaccessible as soon as Card Services start unless there is a mounted disk in the drive. This has implications for the installation process - these are covered at the relevant points.

Toshiba T1910

  • 33MHz 486SX CPU
  • 4mb RAM
  • 200 mb Hard Disk
  • Internal 3.5" Floppy drive
  • 1 PCMCIA Type II/III slot

2.2 The Problem

The small hard disks and the lack of an internal floppy on the Aero make the installation more tricky than normal but the real problem is the RAM. None of the current distributions has an installation disk that will boot in 4mb, not even if the whole hard disk is a swap partition.

The standard installation uses a boot disk to uncompress a root-partition image (either from a second floppy or from CD-ROM) into a ram-disk. The root-image is around 4mb in size. That's all the RAM available in this scenario. Try it and it freezes while unpacking the root-image.

2.3 The Solution

The answer is to eliminate the ram-disk. If you can mount root on a physical partition you will have enough memory to do the install. Since the uncompressed ram-disk is too big to fit on a floppy, the only place left is on the hard disk of the laptop. The steps are:

  1. Find something that will boot in 4mb ram and which can also create ext2 partitions.
  2. Use it to create a swap partition and a small ext2 partition on the laptop's hard disk.
  3. Uncompress the installation root-image and copy it onto the ext2 partition.
  4. Boot the laptop from the installation boot-disk, pointing it at the ext2 partition on the hard disk.
  5. The installation should go more or less as normal from here.

The only question was whether a distribution that wouldn't install (under normal circumstances) on the laptops would run on them. The short answer is "Yes".

If you're an old Linux hand then that's all you need to know. If not, read on - some of the steps listed above aren't as simple as they look.

Next Previous Contents

The Linux Tutorial completely respects the rights of authors and artists to decide for themselves if and how their works can be used, independent of any existing licenses. This means if you are the author of any document presented on this site and do no wish it to be displayed as it is on this site or do not wish it to be displayed at all, please contact us and we will do our very best to accommodate you. If we are unable to accommodate you, we will, at your request, remove your document as quickly as possible.

If you are the author of any document presented on this site and would like a share of the advertising revenue, please contact us using the standard Feedback Form.


More information about the site can be found in the FAQ



Security Code
Security Code
Type Security Code

Don't have an account yet? You can create one. As a registered user you have some advantages like theme manager, comments configuration and post comments with your name.

Help if you can!

Amazon Wish List

Did You Know?
You can choose larger fonts by selecting a different themes.


Tell a Friend About Us

Bookmark and Share

Web site powered by PHP-Nuke

Is this information useful? At the very least you can help by spreading the word to your favorite newsgroups, mailing lists and forums.
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters. Articles are the property of their respective owners. Unless otherwise stated in the body of the article, article content (C) 1994-2013 by James Mohr. All rights reserved. The stylized page/paper, as well as the terms "The Linux Tutorial", "The Linux Server Tutorial", "The Linux Knowledge Base and Tutorial" and "The place where you learn Linux" are service marks of James Mohr. All rights reserved.
The Linux Knowledge Base and Tutorial may contain links to sites on the Internet, which are owned and operated by third parties. The Linux Tutorial is not responsible for the content of any such third-party site. By viewing/utilizing this web site, you have agreed to our disclaimer, terms of use and privacy policy. Use of automated download software ("harvesters") such as wget, httrack, etc. causes the site to quickly exceed its bandwidth limitation and are therefore expressly prohibited. For more details on this, take a look here

PHP-Nuke Copyright © 2004 by Francisco Burzi. This is free software, and you may redistribute it under the GPL. PHP-Nuke comes with absolutely no warranty, for details, see the license.
Page Generation: 0.55 Seconds