DosLinux installation glitches -- and workarounds

DosLinux installation glitches -- and workarounds

Post by Kevin Mart » Tue, 08 Sep 1998 04:00:00

This is about the new Doslinux distribution created by Kent Robotti.

Unlike the UMSDOS version you may have heard about, the latest one uses the
loopback device to access an "image" file.  The image file is a true e2fs
filesystem that appears as a single large file to DOS.  Much cleaner than
the -LINUX---.--- "magic directory" approach taken by UMSDOS, though it does
require you to stake a claim up front for all the space you'll ever want.

I ran into one setup problem, and thought I should share the workaround for

After you run "setup" you'll run a routine called "looplinux" which  will
prompt for "Your DOS or Win95/98 directory".  When it prompted me to enter
/dev/???? I thought that only the four ???? were significant -- wrong! It
wants you to type the complete device name *including* the leading "/dev/"
-- the first time this happened, I entered just the "hda1" and got a kernel
panic.  It was pretty obvious, though, since the kernel was trying to mount
"hda1" and not finding any such device.

I ran "setup" and "looplinux" from my E: drive, but even though I entered
"/dev/hda6" it still reported the free space on my /dev/hda1 (C:) drive --
AND that is where it built the image file.  "This is bad news," I thought.  
Then when I tried to boot it, the kernel panic message told me it WAS trying
to mount /dev/hda6 as I had specified!  So the looplinux routine was using
my input when configuring the initial ramdisk, but it wasn't taking it into
account when building the filesystem image.

Tell looplinux to use the drive you really want, then exit to DOS and use
the MOVE command to move DOSLINUX.IMG from C:\DOSLINUX\SYSTEM to
E:\DOSLINUX\SYSTEM (or whatever drive you really wanted).  Yes, it works!

I was lucky to have enough space on my C: drive to create the image file as
large as I wanted it -- if you were trying to put it onto a system that was
tight for space on its C: drive, you'd be out of luck for now.  But it looks
like a fairly minor tweak to the looplinux routine will fix that.  I hasten
to add, both the kernel and the strange new "loop" filesystem are working
just fine!

I disagree strongly with those who say that Doslinux isn't "worth the
hassle."  If you have a notebook or other system that you've never had the
nerve to reformat for e2fs, you really ought to give Doslinux a try.


1. Installation Glitches

I'm having some issues while doing a post-install configuration while logged in
as root. I decided to use the RTFM approach and here are the results:

Trying to configure the XFree86 server using the "Fully graphical XFree86
configuration tool" -- I decide to accept the default settings for now. On page
71 of "The FreeBSD Handbook", 2nd ed., item 7 says "Testing the Server -- Verify
all the settings once again and select Done ...". "Done" -- right -- there's
"Configure Layout", "Expert Mode", "Layout", "Help" and "Quit", but no "Done".
For lack of a "Done" I click "Quit" and instead of the promised server test I am
greeted with two offers to write the configuration file, to which I click "Yes".
We exit the GUI and are greeted with the cheery message, "The XFree86
configuration process seems to have failed. Would you like to try again?" WTF?
The same message greets me after using the ncurses tool. After three or four
go-rounds we get the idea that this isn't working.

OK let's leave the XFree86 server alone for now, perhaps the defaults will see
us through. How about setting KDE as the default desktop. How challenging can
this be -- after all, computers have been booting into GUIs for 20 years now?
RTFM tells us on page 139, "After KDE2 has been installed, the X server must be
told to launch this application instead of the default window manager. This is
acomplished by editing the .xinitrc file: # echo "/usr/X11R6/bin/startkde" >
-/.xinitrc". The response: "-/.xinitrc: No such file or directory".

Other than the above issues, FreeBSD is a terrific OS and the RTFM approach
works every time.

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