I recently got Red Hat 5.2 at a computer shop for $30. It came with a 3-CD
set, a boot floppy, the book, and a bumper sticker. Considering the whole
package of the OS, the source, and apps, it's a deal, and of course, you
can get it all even cheaper by far. So, I have no complaint about price.
I also bought that 6G hard drive I mentioned in other postings. So, with
this total of $200 for the OS and 6G hd, it's a killer deal compared to NT
Workstation! :) Now, for the fun part:
I placed the hard drive into my Packrat Bell and removed or disabled the
old ones. So, I'm basically starting with a fresh hard drive and a fresh
OS in the old Packrat Bell. (Take note it's a Packrat Bell!)
I plopped the CD into the CD drive and the install floppy into the disk
drive, and rebooted. The first part of the install was easy enough, until
it came time to partition the disk. At that point, it got so slow (due to
my 4X CD drive, I admit) that were it not for my * pressure *, I
would have blown an artery with "Disk Druid". I rebooted, and used Fdisk
instead. The part with the fstab entries was also painfully slow. But once
the swap was started, things went fine.
Then it was time to select packages, which went fine. :) It was nice and
quick-responding at this point. After that, it formatted the hard drive
and checked for lost clusters. It took a long time due to my huge hard
drive, so I can't complain. :)
Then, it installed the packages. It went fine, except for my own fault for
poorly partitioning the hard drive with the 512 cylinder bit. I should
have put the X stuff on another partition by using the fstab entry thing
earlier, so it was my fault. :)
After this, it stopped using the swap, and reverted to accessing the CD
each time like with Disk Druid before. A bug perhaps? In any case, I kept
on, until it was time for the LILO install routines.
It promped for a blank floppy, so I slipped one in and let it install
LILO, and it didn't complain. (The LILO disk didn't work later, BTW.)
Then, it was time for putting LILO on the hard drive, and to my dismay, it
still didn't want to do it, and the install proggie wouldn't let me skip
the LILO install. So, I had to kill it. Couldn't install the X config.
So, what we have here is a nicely written install setup but is good only
for good BIOSes, the classic LILO problem! Other than this one problem
caused entirely by my lousy BIOS, Red Hat looks really promising.
Since most Linux fans are going to be IT professionals who'll build
homebuilts, this isn't a problem normally. Instead, the problems besides
my few human errors (like the poor partitioning above) is that bad BIOSes
Bad BIOSes will occur in the markets most in need of a free OS, the Third
World and people on low budgets buying cheapo computers. For this, one
uses Loadlin, and in the /dosutils dir on the CD, you find it. However,
the Red Hat setup proggie insists on LILO.
What I should do is take my CD and adapt it by hacking the install proggie
source to install Loadlin instead of LILO both on the hard drive and a
boot floppy. This way, by making a Loadlin Red Hat distribution, it will
be useful to those with the flaky BIOSes which can't use LILO. This would
open a market among those with cheap computers like the Third World which
uses the used PCs as well as those who buy the cheapo PCs from the Best
Anyone else out there who still uses Loadlin and computers with bad
BIOSes? If not, I guess I'll have to be the Linus Torvalds of the Bad BIOS
world by adapting Red Hat into a Loadlin distribution like Slackware of
old(!). Loadlin and skipping the LILO install was why I traditionally used
Slackware. Since Slacware is about dead, it's time to move on to Red Hat
but I need to develop my Loadlin technique. :)
I even started on this Loadlin adaptation project. I will still need to
rummage through the Red Hat install proggie's sourcecode and learn some C!
Since I have a computer with a bad BIOS, I have a perfect chance to
Note for the Linux veterans. My computer will boot rawritten LILO install
floppy disks just fine, but not those where it was installed by the setup
proggie. That would suggest hope for this computer's BIOS, but I never got
it to work. I even tried disecting Slackware install disks to try to make
a LILO floppy, but I didn't figure how to configure it. Otherwise, I'd
just dd an image and hack the disk!
For the setup proggie to reliably make boot floppies, you could dd an
image and then the proggie hacks it to taste. Otherwise, I use LOADLIN
floppies! Yes, *ia, you can make Loadlin boot floppies. I actually
use these things! I guess I'll have to try out Caldera OpenDOS with
The ideal Red Hat would be one that uses a CD, of course, and a boot
floppy for a DOS to do the initial fdisk for both DOS and Linux in the
setup proggie, and the CD installs the Loadlin on the DOS boot partition
and then the Linux.
Or, of course, I could win the lottery and just get a computer with a good
BIOS in the first place....
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