Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash - Slackware

This is a discussion on Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash - Slackware ; Hi all, I have an old Pentium I laptop which has neither a CDROM drive, nor a USB port, nor at this point even a hard drive. But I've discovered it can almost boot from a CompactFlash card that's inserted ...

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Thread: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

  1. Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    Hi all,

    I have an old Pentium I laptop which has neither a
    CDROM drive, nor a USB port, nor at this point
    even a hard drive.

    But I've discovered it can almost boot from a CompactFlash
    card that's inserted into a 16-bit PCMCIA CF adapter.

    I put a flashable version of Slackware on a CompactFlash
    card, and booted the system. Here's what happened:
    The bootloader started up. It gave me the usual
    prompt. After I pressed enter it began decompressing
    the kernel. When that had completed, unfortunately the
    system did a restart. Presumably the kernel,
    which is 2.6, freaked out.

    I'd like to setup up a distro of Linux e.g. Slackware
    thta will boot to completion and use the CF card as the
    root filesystem.

    Can anyone advise on how this is best done?

    Thanks.

  2. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    On Sun, 23 Dec 2007 13:36:15 -0800, plenty900 wrote:

    > Hi all,
    >
    > I have an old Pentium I laptop which has neither a CDROM drive, nor a
    > USB port, nor at this point even a hard drive.


    There are adapters that permit plugging a CF card into an IDE port and
    have it behave just like a real hard drive, booting and all.

    > But I've discovered it can almost boot from a CompactFlash card that's
    > inserted into a 16-bit PCMCIA CF adapter.
    >
    > I put a flashable version of Slackware on a CompactFlash card, and
    > booted the system. Here's what happened: The bootloader started up. It
    > gave me the usual prompt. After I pressed enter it began decompressing
    > the kernel. When that had completed, unfortunately the system did a
    > restart. Presumably the kernel, which is 2.6, freaked out.


    What was the output to the screen? Or did it just say "Loading
    kernel..." or something to that effect, and just do nothing? Any
    progress meter?

    > I'd like to setup up a distro of Linux e.g. Slackware thta will boot to
    > completion and use the CF card as the root filesystem.
    >
    > Can anyone advise on how this is best done?


    It could be that your notebook doesn't have enough RAM. (It could be
    something else, too.) What are the specs, make and model of your old
    notebook? IIRC, Slackware needs 16 to 32MB of RAM just to boot and run a
    commandline system. That is, no X-Window. For X, I would want at least
    128MB to run a lightweight GUI.

    Try Damn Small Linux (http://www.damnsmalllinux.org) and see if the dame
    thing happens. It has really, really small hardware requirements for a
    full GUI system, besides being fairly small itself. Plus, it can be
    loaded onto numerous types of media, including CF cards.

    Stef

  3. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    On Sun, 23 Dec 2007 13:36:15 -0800 (PST), plenty900@yahoo.com wrote:

    >Hi all,
    >
    >I have an old Pentium I laptop which has neither a
    >CDROM drive, nor a USB port, nor at this point
    >even a hard drive.
    >
    >But I've discovered it can almost boot from a CompactFlash
    >card that's inserted into a 16-bit PCMCIA CF adapter.


    Lucky you I have an old p100 lappy that refuses to boot the CF,
    so I used a 1GB CF to hold /usr read-only.
    >
    >I put a flashable version of Slackware on a CompactFlash
    >card, and booted the system. Here's what happened:
    >The bootloader started up. It gave me the usual
    >prompt. After I pressed enter it began decompressing
    >the kernel. When that had completed, unfortunately the
    >system did a restart. Presumably the kernel,
    >which is 2.6, freaked out.
    >
    >I'd like to setup up a distro of Linux e.g. Slackware
    >thta will boot to completion and use the CF card as the
    >root filesystem.
    >
    >Can anyone advise on how this is best done?


    Seems to me you're nearly there, just need to compile a kernel that
    suits the hardware a little better?

    Grant.
    --
    http://bugsplatter.mine.nu/

  4. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    On Dec 23, 5:34 pm, Stefan Patric wrote:

    > What was the output to the screen? Or did it just say "Loading
    > kernel..." or something to that effect, and just do nothing? Any
    > progress meter?


    It says:

    Loading hugesmp.s..........
    Loading initrd.img.................
    Ready.
    (then it restarts).

    This bootable image is actually intended for installing Slackware
    on a hard drive.

    The system only has 32megs of RAM, max 80 MB,
    so I will surely upgrade once the system proves to be stable.

    Thanks.

  5. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash


    > Lucky you I have an old p100 lappy that refuses to boot the CF,
    > so I used a 1GB CF to hold /usr read-only.


    Mine's a Thinkpad 560e.

  6. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    Le Sun, 23 Dec 2007 13:36:15 -0800, plenty900 a Ă©critÂ*:

    > Hi all,
    >
    > I have an old Pentium I laptop which has neither a CDROM drive, nor a
    > USB port, nor at this point even a hard drive.


    hi

    Isn't it pxe capable ?

    I've got a Toshiba Portégé 3410CT, without floppy nor cdrom drive, but
    with a pxe network adaptator. Slackware, since 12.0, include the Alien
    job providing us a "pxe installer" (I use it since the 11.0 or 11.1 but
    it was not include in Slackware yet). It works fine.

    good luck

  7. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    On Sun, 23 Dec 2007 16:21:14 -0800 (PST), plenty900@yahoo.com wrote:

    >On Dec 23, 5:34 pm, Stefan Patric wrote:
    >
    >> What was the output to the screen? Or did it just say "Loading
    >> kernel..." or something to that effect, and just do nothing? Any
    >> progress meter?

    >
    >It says:
    >
    >Loading hugesmp.s..........
    >Loading initrd.img.................
    >Ready.
    >(then it restarts).
    >
    >This bootable image is actually intended for installing Slackware
    >on a hard drive.
    >
    >The system only has 32megs of RAM, max 80 MB,
    >so I will surely upgrade once the system proves to be stable.


    Methinks you want slack-11 and a 2.4 series kernel, it should boot
    (mine did on 24MB, might have been slack-10). Suggest add memory

    Grant.
    --
    http://bugsplatter.mine.nu/

  8. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    On Sun, 23 Dec 2007 13:36:15 -0800 (PST)
    plenty900@yahoo.com wrote:

    > Hi all,
    >
    > I have an old Pentium I laptop which has neither a
    > CDROM drive, nor a USB port, nor at this point
    > even a hard drive.
    >
    > But I've discovered it can almost boot from a CompactFlash
    > card that's inserted into a 16-bit PCMCIA CF adapter.
    > I'd like to setup up a distro of Linux e.g. Slackware
    > thta will boot to completion and use the CF card as the
    > root filesystem.
    >
    > Can anyone advise on how this is best done?


    I distribute a 'slackware CF klone' as a generalized distro
    called EBS. The main components are distributed in 4 tar.bz2
    archives which deposit the customizable CF build environment in
    your /usr/share/TheTools.EBS directory.

    Lots of docs and about 50 CF burn scripts in
    /usr/share/TheTools.EBS/BurnScripts, grouped by the CF's size
    (actually by the size of the filesystem that it will create, the
    actual CF can be bigger) and the slack components included. You
    cd to one of those directories (32MB to 1GB), stick the CF in
    your dongle, and run the script of your choice. Lots of
    Documentation and ReadME's. The main CF burntools are makeCF
    and burnit.

    It copies the files, then it bootstraps the CF with lilo,
    unmounts and exits.

    Browse at:
    ftp://ftp.sysdev.org/pub/lintools/EB.../TheTools.EBS/

    Download from:
    http://www.sysdev.org/site

    TonyB

    There are 10 types of people in this world, those that read
    binary and those who don't!

    --
    __ __ _ I N C. http://www.sysdev.org
    / __|\\// __|| \ __ __ / tonyb@sysdev.org
    \__ \ \/\__ \||)|/ O_)\/ / \/ System Tools / Utilities
    |___/ || ___/|_ /\___|\_/ WIntel / Linux Device Drivers


  9. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    On Sun, 23 Dec 2007 16:21:14 -0800, plenty900 wrote:

    > On Dec 23, 5:34 pm, Stefan Patric wrote:
    >
    >> What was the output to the screen? Or did it just say "Loading
    >> kernel..." or something to that effect, and just do nothing? Any
    >> progress meter?

    >
    > It says:
    >
    > Loading hugesmp.s..........


    You probably don't need this huge kernel. Try picking barei.s to start
    with. It is a small basic kernel without a lot of stuff that your old
    notebook doesn't really need.

    When I used Slackware--last was version 9, IIRC--I never used more than
    the barei kernel. What few additional drivers that were needed were
    loaded as separate modules at boot time.

    > Loading initrd.img.................
    > Ready.
    > (then it restarts).
    >
    > This bootable image is actually intended for installing Slackware on a
    > hard drive.


    Okay. Here's the problem. Slackware can't find the hard drive, because
    there's not one. And the install halts.

    > The system only has 32megs of RAM, max 80 MB, so I will surely upgrade
    > once the system proves to be stable.


    Here's another problem: 32MB is just barely enough to install and run
    Slackware in terminal mode. GUI not possible, probably not even with
    80MB. Start looking for very, very small distros that use a "tiny"
    version of X and a "tiny" window manager. Or regress to a version of
    Slackware or some other distro that originally could run on that notebook.

    For a small footprint, current distro for old systems, you might try
    Puppy Linux, which is Slackware based: http://www.puppylinux.com/
    Usable minimums with a GUI are 166 to 266MHz CPU and 64MB RAM. Here are
    some user comments:

    http://puppylinux.org/wikka/MinReq?s...nts=1#comments


    Stef

  10. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    On Tue, 25 Dec 2007 18:45:33 +0000, Stefan Patric wrote:

    > Here's another problem: 32MB is just barely enough to install and run
    > Slackware in terminal mode. GUI not possible, probably not even with
    > 80MB.


    I've seen Slackware 11.0 running Fluxbox on an old Toshiba 2545XCDT laptop
    that had 64MB of RAM. It wasn't my laptop, so I don't know how well it
    ran or if it could run a 2.6 kernel.

    --
    Chick Tower

    For e-mail: aols2 DOT sent DOT towerboy AT xoxy DOT net


  11. Re: Booting from PCMCIA CompactFlash

    On Thu, 27 Dec 2007 13:37:27 -0500, Chick Tower wrote:

    > On Tue, 25 Dec 2007 18:45:33 +0000, Stefan Patric wrote:
    >
    >> Here's another problem: 32MB is just barely enough to install and run
    >> Slackware in terminal mode. GUI not possible, probably not even with
    >> 80MB.

    >
    > I've seen Slackware 11.0 running Fluxbox on an old Toshiba 2545XCDT
    > laptop that had 64MB of RAM. It wasn't my laptop, so I don't know how
    > well it ran or if it could run a 2.6 kernel.


    Well, you could just try the install and see what happens. Worse that
    can happen is it's not usable. Just don't pick KDE, GNOME or XFCE for
    the GUI environment. Use just a window manager like Fluxbox or IceWM to
    keep the GUI overhead low.

    FWIW, I ran Mandrake 7.0, circa 2001, with KDE on a 166MHz machine with
    just 64MB of RAM, 256MB swap, and it worked fine, quite usable. However,
    it was a lean, no frills system: Nothing running that didn't absolutely
    have to be. However, I know running a contemporary distro on that same
    system today would probably not work or, if it did, would be too slow due
    to swapping to be usable.

    Stef

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