[techtalk] Install from floppies

Telsa Gwynne hobbit at aloss.ukuu.org.uk
Thu Nov 18 14:12:43 EST 1999

On Wed, Nov 17, 1999 at 09:55:44PM +0000 or thereabouts, J B wrote:
> Have been following the thread on splitting files to floppy.  Would this 
> work to split the installation files?  Or, is there a specific way to create 
> floppy disks to do an install on a machine wihtout a CD-Rom?  I have an old 

There's a specific way. 

Red Hat's 6.1 Installation Guide has this in Appendix B: (paraphrased)
Insert your floppy. Don't mount the floppy. Mount the CDROM instead. 
cd into the mounted directory with the right image file, and type
	dd if=boot.img of=/dev/fd0 bs=1440k
(substituting the correct filename for boot.img)

If instead of the standard floppy image, you use a network or
PCMCIA floppy, you can boot up from the floppy, tell it some
TCP/IP stuff (who I am? What's my number? :)), and do the rest
of the RH install over NFS, http, or ftp.

Debian seemed to need rather more than just one floppy: I think
I had eight in all: the rescue floppy and a series of seven floppies
in order, which put a very basic (very basic, no joe, just vi! :) - but
it did include ppp and nfs and other such useful articles) OS and 
basic utilities on. Then you can install the rest over NFS (and 
probably the other two, too.) The Debian documentation is on the web
and tells you how  to create floppies in


	dd if=file of=/dev/fd0 bs=512 conv=sync ; sync
	where file is one of the floppy disk image files.

> 486 that I am considering setting up, and it does not have a CD, and I see 
> no reason to install one just to put an operating system on it.  Once I get 
> it up and running it will be networked to my other machines, so installing 
> other software is irrelevant.

I have just done something very similar on a portable machine. It has
a floppy drive (when attached to its 'base station') but no CD drive.
The machine itself is a bit of a pest. Like most things that my
husband acquires, it had 'interesting' hardware. You won't have that
problem :)

I put the CD onto my usual machine, read lots and lots of READMEs
and installation instructions, made the series of about seven
floppies for the base install, made the rescue floppy, plugged them into 
the little machine one after the other, and then booted up the machine 

I then told the machine that had the CD drive that it was an NFS
server, plugged in a serial cable between the machine with the CD
and the one with the Debian base stuff on it, and after some arguing 
with pppd, nfs and inittab on the one with the CD, it agreed to play.
(It helps if you use the right syntax. Ahem.) 

So then I just typed on the little machine (or, more accurately, 
scrolled down and down through dselect, removing various things I
didn't want and adding things I did) and it went away and
installed what I needed off the CD. Whee. 

Debian dselect documentation mentions that you can theoretically
use 'a pile of floppies' as an access method if you don't have 
network access or a CD-ROM, but it does also say this is no longer
recommended... :)

I hope at least some of this helps.


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