-> I have a Zenith Z386 that, for reasons I do not understand but live
-> with just fine under DOS, will only boot from its floppy 0, a.k.a.
-> drive a: in DOS, a 360k floppy. The machine has a 1.2 meg floppy,
-> which it reads and writes just fine, but I tried swapping the two
-> drives one time and it just won't boot from the high density drive.
-> And I imagine you can forget about 3.5 drives! Needless to say, it
-> doesn't have a CD-ROM and never will.
-> I'd like to install Linux on this machine (I have a seagate st-01
-> controller and a 100mb conner drive I'm not doing anything else with,
-> and would love to learn some variant of Unix.) Can this be done? If
-> so how?
A bit difficult to answer.
Are you sure, that there is no way to exchange the floppy drives?
Maybe you forgot to change the according entries in the system BIOS?
Or there is an option in the BIOS to exchange the drives virtually?
But whatsoever, if you must boot from 360K you have a good chance to
succeed in installing linux anyhow.
Installing linux is a three step process:
1) Copying a kernel (the OS) from floppy to memory und start it ("boot-disk")
2) mounting a tiny linux-system to get the most basic utilities up and
running ("root-disk" or "ram-disk")
3) installing everything on HD
Step 1 requires a floppy, which contains the whole kernel.
The compressed kernels have a size of about 300-400kB,
depending of the number of drivers. Just try to copy the beginning of
a boot-disk to a 360kB-disk and if you are lucky, it will work.
Choose a kernel with as few drivers as possible (no net, no scsi, no
Step 2 is no problem as you can add the option "root=/dev/fd1" when
asked for additional boot parameters, which will mount the tiny
root-system from the second floppy drive.
Step 3 is simple: Prior to installing linux copy the sources to your
DOS-HD and select installing from pre-mounted dos-device.
Hope that helps