Frequently Asked Questions
Slackware Logo

News

Security Advisories

FAQ

Book

General Info

Get Slack

Install Help

Configuration

Packages

ChangeLogs

Propaganda

Ports

Other Sites

Support

Contact

Mailing Lists

About

 
Installation FAQ
Q0: Can I install using a console on a serial port?
Q1: How do I install from the ISO9660 image if I don't have a CD-R or CD-RW drive (or "I have no way to burn this image that I just downloaded.
Q2: How do I know what files setup/pkgtool/installpkg is putting where?
Q3: How do I make a bootdisk that uses a custom kernel?
Q4: How do I make a Slackware bootdisk with this new kernel I made?
Q5: I can't get the disks made by RAWRITE to boot!
Q6: I have a (PS/1 || Valuepoint || Thinkpad), and can't install because fdisk can't see my hard drive.
Q7: I see my SoundBlaster/Panasonic CD-ROM detected at boot, but I can't install from it or mount it.
Q8: I set my partitions to "Linux native" but Slackware still won't detect them!
Q9: I was able to install fine, but the installed system won't boot!
Q10: If the setup menus for NFS installation don't work, how can I setup the network manually before starting setup?
Q11: Is it possible to install this operating system without a floppy drive?
Q12: My IBM Thinkpad won't load the rootdisk into a ramdisk correctly, so I can't install Linux.
Q13: My large (> 1/2 gig) IDE drive reports more than 16 heads, and as a result Linux won't install on it.
Q14: Now that the N series doesn't fit on floppy disks, how do I get network support into my laptop?
Q15: What's the password for root on the install disk?
Q16: Why the $%#@! isn't my UltraStor SCSI detected?
Q: Can I install using a console on a serial port?

Yes. Most of the bootdisks included with Slackware include support for putting the system console on a serial port. To do this, you need to use console=ttyS0 or console=ttyS1 (these examples would be for COM1: and COM2:) as extra parameters on the bootdisk's boot prompt.

For example, to install using a serial console, you would boot a bootdisk such as bare.i and wait for it to stop at the boot prompt. Then enter this to boot the kernel using COM1 as the console:

ramdisk console=ttyS0

Q: How do I install from the ISO9660 image if I don't have a CD-R or CD-RW drive (or "I have no way to burn this image that I just downloaded.")?

With loopback of course! You can mount the ISO9660 image on the kernel loopback device from another filesystem.

For example, say you download the ISO9660 image under Windows. Boot the Slackware boot and root disks for your system. Assuming your Windows partition is /dev/hda1 and you downloaded the ISO9660 image to C:, issue these commands:

mkdir -p /dos
mount -t vfat /dev/hda1 /dos
cd /dos
mknod /dev/loop0 b 7 0
mkdir /INSTALL
mount -o loop /dos/install.iso /INSTALL

You can then tell the Slackware setup program to install from a premounted directory and pass it /INSTALL/slakware. This trick can also be used if you cannot make a valid CD with your burner.

Have fun!

Q: How do I know what files setup/pkgtool/installpkg is putting where?

Look around in /var/adm/packages.
Similarly, you can find installation scripts for each package in /var/adm/scripts.

Q: How do I make a bootdisk that uses a custom kernel?

Look in the ./kernels subdirectory. You'll find complete instructions on how to make them in there.

Q: How do I make a Slackware bootdisk with this new kernel I made?

OK, well you grab an existing one (preferably one of the larger ones like "scsinet.s"), put it on a floppy, and do this:

mount /dev/fd0 /mnt (this mounts it)
cat zImage > /mnt/vmlinuz (put the new kernel in place)
rdev -R /mnt/vmlinuz 0 (mount read-write)
rdev /mnt/vmlinuz /dev/fd0u1440 (use that drive, or /dev/fd0h1200)
rdev -r /mnt/vmlinuz 49152 (enable the ramdisk)
lilo -r /mnt (reinstall lilo)
umount /mnt (that's it! you're done! :^)

Q: I can't get the disks made by RAWRITE to boot!

First, check that you're using the right size image. If you use an image meant for a 1.44 MB floppy on a 1.2 MB floppy (or vice-versa) you'll likely see the message "LI" and the boot process will hang.

Another possibility is a BIOS problem -- a user has reported to me that RAWRITE fails on his machine unless he first does "dir a:" on an MS-DOS floppy. Apparently this is caused by the BIOS improperly initializing address 0000:0526 (number of sectors) to 11h instead of 12h. Using "dir" on the device fixes that value. The affected machine in this case was using "Mr. BIOS" from Unicore Software.

Q: I have a (PS/1 || Valuepoint || Thinkpad), and can't install because fdisk can't see my hard drive. How can I get around this?

You'll need to enter your drive parameters at the bootdisk prompt. You can even specify the geometry for your second IDE drive by supplying a second hd= parameter right after the first one.

When you boot the bootdisk, you'll see more information about the format used to pass your drive parameters to the kernel at the LILO prompt and allow your drive to be recognized.

You'll have to edit your lilo.conf file to add a similar hd= flag if you want LILO to work. Add this as the TOP line in the file:

append="hd=cyl,hds,secs"

Where "cyl", "hds", and "secs" are the number of cylinders, sectors, and heads on the drive.

If you have two IDE drives, specify both drives (like this):

append="hd=967,13,31 hd=944,14,40"

Q: I see my SoundBlaster/Panasonic CD-ROM detected at boot, but I can't install from it or mount it. What's going on?

Try setting to drive's ID to 0. This is expected by the install disks. There should be a jumper on the back of the drive that selects this -- just move it to the leftmost position.

Q: I set my partitions to "Linux native" but Slackware still won't detect them! What can I do?

This problem is rare and I still don't know what causes it.

[ Note that this is not the same problem that usually affects the IBM PS/1, Thinkpad, and similar machines that do not detect the harddrive. If you've got one of these machines, and fdisk is giving you problems, your answer is still ahead :^) ]

Here's a workaround you can use to install anyway:

  1. Start text.gz using one of the bootdisks.
  2. Make and format partitions for Linux.
  3. Mount the target partitions under /mnt.
  4. Type "setup -target_mounted"
  5. Follow the rest of the instructions to install.
  6. Type "vi /mnt/etc/fstab" and enter an appropriate fstab. As an example, here's what mine contains:

    /dev/hdb2 swap swap defaults /dev/hda2 / ext2 defaults /dev/hda3 /usr xiafs defaults /dev/hda1 /dos msdos defaults /dev/hdb1 /os2 msdos defaults none /proc proc defaults

    To give you some more info about this file, the first field is the partition to be mounted, the second is where it should be mounted, the third is the filesystem type, and the last field is the options to use. Unless you're a Linux wizard, just set this to "defaults".

    Other things to remember about this file:


    - Make sure that you list the root partition before any other partitions that are mounted beneath it.
    - Add the /proc line, or "ps", "w", etc, won't work.
    - It's a good idea to put a blank line at the end of the file, as I've had reports that partitions listed on the last line might not be mounted.

  7. Once you've made and saved this file you can reboot with ctrl-alt-delete.
Q: I was able to install fine, but the installed system won't boot!

Slackware uses stripped down kernels to do the actual installation -- in other words, the kernels don't have any more drivers than needed to control only the device needed to complete the installation. If you don't install the bootdisk kernel, it's possible to install with (for example) the bare.i IDE bootdisk, but install the SCSI kernel from the A series onto your hard drive. Since this kernel is has many SCSI drivers built-in, this can lead to hangs at boot time if the kernel misidentifies a piece of hardware that's unusual or at a non-standard port/IRQ.

When this happens, you need to try a different kernel. First, use the bootdisk that worked during installation to get your system started. To do this, boot the disk and enter something like this at the LILO prompt:

mount root=/dev/sda2

(if /dev/sda2 is your root Linux partition, otherwise use the appropriate device name for your system)

Once you've got the system running, install or compile a different kernel. Try to include only the device drivers you need for your hardware.

Instructions on compiling the kernel can be found in your kernel source directory (if you installed the kernel source, that is). The kernel source is usually found in /usr/src/linux.

Briefly, this is the method for building a new kernel:

cd /usr/src/linux
make config (then answer the questions about what you need) make dep ; make clean ; make zImage

If the zImage is successfully built, see an answer below which explains how to install it with LILO or Loadlin, or make a new bootdisk from it. Once you've done that, you might want to clean up /usr/src/linux by cd'ing into it and doing another 'make clean'.

Good luck! If you can handle this, you're well on your way to becoming a Linux guru.

Q: If the setup menus for NFS installation don't work, how can I setup the network manually before starting setup?

Once your Linux machine is listed in the hosts /etc/exports (if the whole network is not already), you might need to do these things before running setup. This is usually only needed if the NFS server is on a different subnet than your Linux machine:


# Setup the loopback device:
ifconfig lo 127.0.0.1
route add -net 127.0.0.0
# Setup the network:
ifconfig eth0 1.2.3.4 # 1.2.3.4 is the ip number of my machine.
route add -net 1.2.3.0
route add default gw 1.2.3.1 # in this example, the ip address of our NFS
# server is 1.2.31.4 and belongs to a different
# network.

Q: Is it possible to install this operating system without a floppy drive?

Yes! And it's not much harder, either.

First, you'll need a DOS partition. Install Loadlin in a directory such as C:LOADLIN (the Loadlin package is available as a ZIP file in the kernels/ directory). Once you have Loadlin installed, you'll need to copy a Linux kernel and a Slackware rootdisk image into the C:LOADLIN directory. We'll describe this process next:

You can find many kernels in the kernels/ directory on the CD. The subdirectories have the same names as the Slackware bootdisks, and contain the kernel used to make that bootdisk. You might want to refer to the README files in a bootdisks directory (such as bootdsks.144/) to decide which kernel will work best for your system. Once you've picked a kernel (zImage or bzImage), copy it into the C:LOADLIN directory. Next, select a rootdisk image from the rootdsks/ directory, such as the color rootdisk image (color.gz). Copy the file into your Loadlin directory.

Now, to start the installation process you'll need to boot DOS. If you run Windows95, restarting the computer in MS-DOS mode is an option on the Start button menu. (NOTE: If you miss the good-old-days when you got DOS automatically when you booted your computer and had to type "win" to actually start Windows, it's easy to fix Windows95 to work that way again. Edit the file C:MSDOS.SYS and change where it says BootGUI=1 to read BootGUI=0)

Once you have DOS started, change into the Loadlin directory and use a command like this one to start the installation rootdisk:

loadlin zimage rw root=/dev/ram initrd=color.gz load_ramdisk=1

Usually the installation copies the kernel from the bootdisk, so when you use this method you'll have to skip that menu, as well as the bootdisk creation menu. It's also advisable to skip the LILO menu, since the /vmlinuz will probably not be the one you want. You best bet is to use Loadlin, since it's gotten you this far. Just edit the LINUX.BAT file to point to your root Linux partition.

Q: My IBM Thinkpad won't load the rootdisk into a ramdisk correctly, so I can't install Linux. What can I do?

The disk-changed sensor on some older Thinkpads works a little differently. This can be worked around -- just specify "floppy=thinkpad" when booting:

boot: ramdisk floppy=thinkpad

... on the bootdisk's LILO prompt.

Q: My large (> 1/2 gig) IDE drive reports more than 16 heads, and as a result Linux won't install on it. What can I do?

See the file /docs/mini/Large-IDE for instructions on how to make it work. (Thanks to Bob DiMarco for forwarding this to me, and Patrick LoPresti for compiling the information in the first place)

Note that newer kernels (> 1.1.40) will do this translation for you automatically, and thus make the workaround unnecessary.

Q: Now that the N series doesn't fit on floppy disks, how do I get network support into my laptop?

Start by installing the A series. Then, put the tcpip1.tgz package from the N series on a floppy disk. If your kernel doesn't contain network support, put the netmods.tgz (network kernel modules) package on another disk. If you need PPP, put the PPP package on there, too. Then, (after rebooting, not from the setup floppies) run "pkgtool". Choose the "Install packages from floppy disks" choice, and install the tcpip1.tgz netmods.tgz, and ppp.tgz packages. Then run netconfig to set up your network, pppsetup to configure ppp, and edit /etc/rc.d/rc.modules to load support for your ethernet card. When you reboot, the machine should be network-capable, and you can proceed to add more software from there.

Q: What's the password for root on the install disk?

There isn't one. If you're asked for one, it usually means that you don't have enough memory to install.

To help work around this, look in your CMOS settings and make sure you don't have any ROM shadowing enabled. ROM shadowing wastes memory and won't improve the performance of Linux. Also, make sure you're using the smallest bootdisk you can. For example, you don't need to use "scsinet" if you're not installing to a SCSI drive via NFS. Use something small -- the "bare" disk if you can get away with it. Some people mistakenly think they need to use a bootdisk with network drivers if they plan to use networking after installation. Not so! The drivers on the bootdisk have no impact on what you can use *after* installation -- in almost all cases you won't be running the same kernel on your installed system as you used to install it.

Q: Why the $%#@! isn't my UltraStor SCSI detected? It works under DOS!

Set the I/O address to 0x340 instead to 0x330.

For any hardware that doesn't work, a good rule is to try playing around with the IRQ and I/O settings on it to see what happens. If your system is up and running and you're having problems with a CD-ROM or tape or something like this, you can always look around for the driver source in /usr/src/linux/drivers... really, it won't bite! Often, the source contains important documentation, such as the default IRQ settings for that type of device, and the major number for the entry in /dev. Also, try other bootdisks and see if that helps.

Slackware® is a registered trademark of Slackware Linux, Inc. All logos and graphics are copyrighted.