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Current HOWTO: 4mb Laptop HOWTO

4mb Laptop HOWTO: The Pre-installation Procedure Next Previous Contents

4. The Pre-installation Procedure

This section covers creating a swap partition and a temporary root partition on the laptop's hard disk. Nothing here is Slackware-specific.

4.1 muLinux Preparation

If you are going to use only muLinux to for this procedure then you need to prepare a disk with mkfs.ext2 and supporting libraries on it. From the muLinux setup files uncompress USR.bz2 and mount it as a loop file-system. If you are in the same directory as the USR file and you want to mount it as /tmpusr then the sequence for this is:

losetup /dev/loop0 USR
mount -t ext2 /dev/loop0 /tmpusr

>From there copy mkfs.ext2, libext2fs.so.2, libcomerr.so.2 and libuuid.so.1 onto a floppy.

4.2 Prepare the installation root files.

Select the root disk you want - I used the color one with no problems but the text one would be slightly faster in these low memory conditions. Uncompress the image and mount it as a loop device. The procedure is the same as in the above section but the root disk image is a minix file-system.

Next you need 3 1722 floppies or 4 1440 floppies with ext2 file-systems - it's better with 1722 disks as you don't need to split the /lib directory. Give one floppy twice the default number of inodes so it can take the /dev directory. That's 432 nodes for a 1722 disk or 368 for a 1440. If you specify /dev/fd0H1722 or /dev/fd0H1440 then you don't have to give any other parameters so for a 1722 disk do

mke2fs -N 432 /dev/fd0H1722

If you have mounted the root image as /tmproot and the destination floppy as /floppy then cd to /tmproot. To copy the dev directory the command is

cp -dpPR dev/* /floppy/

For the other directories with files in (bin, etc, lib, mnt, sbin, usr, var) it's

cp -dpPr directoryname/* /floppy/

Don't bother with the empty ones (floppy, proc, root, tag, tmp) because you can simply create them on the laptop. boot and cdrom are soft links pointing to /mnt/boot and /var/log/mount respectively - you can also create them on the laptop.

4.3 Create the partitions.

Mini-Linuces and ext2 file-systems - an important note.

To save space, small-Linux designers sometimes use older libc5 librariesand where they do use up-to-date libc6 they leave out may of the options compiled into full distributions, including some optional features of the ext2 file-system. This has two consequences:

  • Trying to mount ext2 disks formatted using a modern Linux system can generate error messages if you mount them read-write. Be sure to use the -r option when mounting floppies on the laptops.
  • It is not wise to use the mkfs.ext2 that comes with the mini-Linux to create file-systems on the partitions into which SlackWare will be installed. It should only be used to create the file-system on the temporary root partition. Once installation is complete this partition can be reformatted and re-used.


If installing on an Aero, make sure the floppy drive is inserted before switching on and do not remove it.

  1. Boot from the mini-Linux
    With muLinux, wait until the boot-process complains about the small memory space and offers the option of dropping into a shell - take that option and work in the limited single-user mode it gives you.
  2. Use fdisk to create the partitions.
  3. Reboot on leaving fdisk (with muLinux you may simply have to turn off and on again at this point).
  4. Use mkswap on the swap partition and then activate it (this will make muLinux much happier).
  5. If using muLinux then mount the extra floppy created in muLinux Preparation, copy mkfs.ext2 into /bin and the libraries into /lib.
  6. Use mkfs.ext2 to create the file-system on the temporary root partition.
  7. If you have been using SmallLinux, shut down and reboot using muLinux. Don't forget to activate the swap partition again.
  8. muLinux will have mounted the boot floppy on /startup - unmount it to free the floppy drive.
  9. Now mount the temporary root partition and copy onto it the contents of the disks you created in Prepare the installation root files. Do not be alarmed by the error messages: if, for example, you copy usr from the floppy to the temporary root partition by typing "cp -dpPr usr/* /tmproot/" then you'll get the error message "cp: sr: no such file or directory". Ignore this, nothing is wrong.
  10. cd to the temporary root partition and create the empty folders (floppy, proc, root, tag, tmp) and the soft links boot (pointing to mnt/boot) and cdrom (to var/log/mount).
  11. Unmount the temporary root partition - this syncs the disk.
  12. You can simply turn off the machine now.

Next Previous Contents

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