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Boot Disks

I have had some friends coming to me for help on how to make boot disks, but the following little story is worth a read.

A while ago I lent a friend of mine a Red Hat 6.0 CD. He was able to install fine, however he did get quite a few error messages during installation. Afterwards he was getting all sorts of problems, one of them not being able to get pppd to work. That's when I decided to help him out. After a few tries and a lot of head scratching (nothing was making sense), I noticed something really strange during a re-boot. How come the system was rebooting with a 2.0.xx kernel while Red Hat 6.0 uses kernel 2.2.5 ?
That question was soon answered after I found out that my friend had used a boot floppy that came with a Red Hat 5.0 package. I shook my head and said "hummm ... that ain't working".

My friend is probably one of the smartest guys I have ever met, but he was new to Linux. If you want to save a lot of grief, here are some instructions on how to make boot disks from that borrowed CD. Please note that these instructions apply to Red Hat and Mandrake distributions. Please read the README file on the root of your distribution CD. The following instructions are actually taken from that README file.

How to create boot disks:

DOS, or from a DOS window in Windows 95/98/NT:

Assuming your CD-ROM drive is located at D: and your 3.5 in. floppy drive is located at A: follow the instructions below. Please read the rawrite3.doc file in the dosutils directory.

Enter the disk image source filename: d:\images\boot.img
Enter target diskette drive: a:\
Please insert a formatted diskette into drive A: and press -ENTER- :


Assuming you have already mounted the CD-ROM and are in the root directory of the CD. This also assumes that you have a floppy drive at /dev/fd0 (A: under DOS). You may want to read the man page for dd(1).

cd images
dd boot.img /dev/fd0

More boot disks ...

The boot disk discussed above is the installation boot disk. There is another boot disk worth mentioning, this one is more like a recovey or rescue disk.
I allows to start the computer directly into Linux, or in case of problems, start in a "safe" mode in order to fix those problems.

To make this floppy you will need to know the exact version/build of the linux kernel to be used. The easiest way to find this is by typing the following:

more /etc/lilo.conf

From the text printed to the screen look for the line that starts with "image=". It should be something like "image=/boot/vmlinuz-2.2.13-22mdk". The part that we are interested in is what comes after "vmlinuz-".
Assuming that you have a floppy drive at /dev/fd0 (A: under DOS), you would type the following:

mkbootdisk --device /dev/fd0 2.2.13-22mdk
Insert a disk in /dev/fd0. Any information on the disk will be lost.
Press <Enter> to continue or ^C to abort:

To test this boot floppy, just leave in the drive and re-boot your system The computer should boot into Linux without problems. If problem do occur, remove the floppy from the drive and re-boot the system again. You may want to read the manual page for the mkbootdisk command. Type the following at the prompt:

man mkbootdisk

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