Some possible problems could occur during the installation, one of which is that you have no free
space. Many Linux distributions will allow you to install it on an existing
DOS partition, so you need to be careful with this one.
Fortunately, the system will tell what kind of file system it is.
If you are having trouble booting from floppies, there are a few reasons for this. The first,
which I saw quite often while I was in tech support, happens on new machines when the
CMOS setting for the floppy does not match what really is in the drive. Even
today, CMOS are delivered in which the default A: floppy is 5.25" and 360K. If you have a 3.5"
1.44MB, it won't work right. The kernel might load, because it is just
reading one sector after the other. However, the first time you have to seek to
a particular sector, you're hosed.
Another common problem is simply that it is defective media. If you can install directly from the
CD-ROM, this problem is unlikely to happen. If your CD-ROM drive needs a
caddy, I have seen sticky slots that don't open all the way. It might also be that the CD-ROM is
just dirty. Wipe it off with a clean dry, non-static cloth. If you have
to create a boot floppy set, it's best to have new floppies. The cost of a new
box is worth the piece of mind.
If the system hangs during boot
process, pay close attention to any messages that come up, particularly the last few. These messages
might indicate what the problems are. Although it didn't cause a hang, I had an
Ethernet card and multi-port board that were both software configurable. Both
configured to IRQ 10. Because the multi-port board was initialized first, my Ethernet card was
inaccessible. Also check the Hardware HOWTO to make sure that your
hardware is supported.
I have heard of out-of-memory errors. I have never experienced them myself because I have always
installed my system with 32MB. The reason for this error is that you have very little
RAM and a RAM disk is created during the install for the root file system. If
the amount of RAM you have minus the ramdisk doesn't leave enough for Linux, you're in trouble. If
you don't have enough RAM, get more. RAM is not prohibitively expensive, and you cant run a
productive system without it anyway.
If you run into hardware problems, strip the system to just the devices you need for the install.
Remove the parallel/serial ports, sound cards, network cards,
mouse cards, and anything else you don't need for the installation. If the
problem still continues, maybe one of the other cards is loose (like the SCSI
host adapter). Remove and reseat all the cards. Check for conflicts of base
DMA, and, obviously, check that your hardware is supported.
SCSI devices are good things to have, but they can also be a major headache. I must admit that
at times I almost have a too-relaxed attitude when installing. (Hey, I know what I am doing, right?)
I often take for granted that the hardware is configured in a particular way, especially when other
hardware of the same type is configured that way. This leads to problems!
I have seen systems in which a SCSI
device is detected at all IDs, though no devices are there and no manufacturers ID is recognized.
This happens when there is a device and HA at the same SCSI ID. The host
adapter must be at ID 7. Every other device must be at a different, unique ID.
Maybe Linux detects errors on the disk, but the disk is known to be error free, which is often
caused by either bad cables or incorrect termination. If your SCSI devices
report timeouts, there may be a conflict with base address,
DMA, or IRQ
of the host
adapter. I have also experienced timeouts when more than two devices on the
bus are terminated. Remember that only the two devices at the physical
end of the SCSI bus should be (must be) terminated. the SCSI devices report timeouts, this
may also be due to bad connections or termination problems. However, it might also be due to conflicts with the I/O
address or IRQ or DMA channels.
If you have obtained a version from the Internet, you can get read errors or "file not found"
messages. I specifically mentioned the Internet because I have never seen it with commercial
versions. This might be an indication of bad media (so instead, use new floppies) or that something
went wrong with the transfer.
If you used ftp
to copy the files from DOS/Windows machine, the transfer mode is normally ASCII
by default. These files must be transferred in binary
mode or they could result in messages like "tar: read error" or "gzip: not in gzip format."
After installing, you may have some problems booting. You may see something like "non-system disk
in drive," "disk not bootable," "NO OS," etc., probably because your master
boot block is corrupt. This can occur when installing onto machines with
multiple operating systems. Some OSs have to be installed on the
active partition. I have experienced this once, when I installed a second OS on a system
only to find that the second simply overwrote the first.
The fdisk program on all PC-based OSs can read the partition
table. It may not see what kind of partition it is, but it will see that something is there. On the other hand, the Linux fdisk can read the partition table and recognize what kind of partitions they are.
Another cause of this kind of message is that LILO might not have been installed correctly.
Therefore, you should boot from the boot/root floppy that you made for the
installation. Once you get to the boot:, you can specify the root file system to be on the hard
disk. Once there, check the /etc/lilo.conf file and install it again.
One of my favorite problems I saw both with Linux and other UNIX
dialects. When you boot,
another OS starts instead of Linux, or Linux is installed first and after installing the other OS,
Linux is no longer accessible. In the first case, LILO may not have been installed. If it was
installed, maybe it was not installed in the master boot record; but Linux is not active, so the
other OS boots. Maybe you simply configured LILO so that OS will boot by default. Ctrl+Shift+Tab and
often just Tab gives you the LILO menu. (See man-page for more details.)
Depending on the distribution, you may be able to choose what type of file system on which you
want to install. If you will remember from the section on file systems, Linux supports several
different types of file systems, most of which you can install on.
If you are fortunate to have a system that understands the RedHat Package Manager Format
(rpm), adding additional software is fairly easy. See the rpm man-page
for more details.