[conspire] (forw) Installation files missing

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Apr 21 01:37:59 PDT 2004

[I also posted this via the cabal.conspire newsgroup, but am not sure
the gateway's working; thus this re-post.]

Quoting Jose Tav:

> Hi Rick,
> Well, as I expected the WinMe installation package
> (one CD) that comes with the laptop did take the whole
> HD space (10GB).
> I found a floppy with the files: idlinux.sys,
> inboot.img, syslinux and vmlinuz in my computer.

That sounds like it must have been a Linux boot floppy for your system.
Such floppies are good to keep around just in case you accidentally lose
the ability to boot your system from the hard drive, e.g., because a
Microsoft OS installer has overwritten the Master Boot Record without 
asking your permission (as they always do).

> I tried to re-partition my HD by running
> idlinux.sys,it seems that it is trying to install some
> linux program, rather than opening the window for me
> to select the HD's space I want to partition to.

I don't know what you mean by "running ldlinux.sys".  Do you mean you
booted that floppy?  (This may not be important:  I suspect you were
just pursuing the wrong path of investigation, based on a bad assumption
about the purpose of that floppy disk.)

> Incidentally, I will give you back the "stolen" floppy
> at the first chance.

If I understand correctly what you're referring to, that was a floppy
intended specifically for you to have.

Just to refresh my own memory, as well as to inform this mailing list's
readership about what we're talking about, you showed up at a CABAL
meeting with a Windows machine (a laptop) whose ~10 GB Windows partition
you asked us to shrink to make room for Linux.  We did this using BootIt
Next Generation (which you can download, as we discussed by telephone
this evening).  The Windows partition got shrunk to ~5.5 GB.

Having done that, we then installed a Linux distribution (Knoppix) into the
suddenly unoccupied disk space.  Anticipating that you'd want to
reinstall Windows (because your Windows partition was damaged), we
put the "lilo" bootloader in the initial sector of your Linux partition,
enabled the "active" (bootable) flag for that partition in the partition
table, and removed the flag from the Windows partition.  When you left,
you were able to boot both Linux and your (damaged) Windows
installations, with help from lilo.

You say WinME's installer has now blown away all our work, and that such
is "expected".  Well, no, it's not expected:

As I explained at the time, _if_ you have a genuine installation CD for
WinME, as opposed to a "recovery" CD, then you _are_ given the option to
use less than the entire hard drive.  

You believed your WinME CD to be a genuine, full installation CD, which 
is why we proceeded with Linux installation.  (Why install Linux if you
know you'll be wiping it out almost immediately?)  Either you were
mistaken (i.e., all you have is a "recovery" CD, after all) or you
somehow missed WinME's option to do custom partitioning.

To explain:  Many PC vendors provide "recovery" CDs only (for the
bundled Microsoft OS), which, when booted, put back the exact,
hardware-vendor-tweaked installation of MS-Windows that was present on
the hard drive when bought.  Those CDs' installation routines offer the
user _no_ customisation whatsoever:  You basically are allowed either to
let them proceed to wipe out your hard drive, or not.

Users in that situation either must endure that behaviour and reconcile
themselves to having their entire hard drives wiped out every time they
reinstall Windows, or must pay _again_ for that Microsoft OS, this time
a real installation copy bought at full retail prices.

> I should be able to look the list of files in a Linux CD while in
> Windows other?

Yes, you can browse a Linux distribution CD-ROM using MS-Windows.
Expect the filenames to be truncated, among other problems.  But that
isn't going to help you.  You're asking that question because you think
you'll find there the boot configuration Jim and I created.  Sorry, no:
It was on the hard drive.

> Some how I can find the CD that Jim? burned for me with the edited
> files to correct the display problem.

Here's the bad news:  You've blown away all of Jim's and my work.
By doing whatever you did with that WinME CD-ROM of yours -- judging by
your statement that Windows "did take the whole HD space" -- the
installer routine on that disk blew away your old Windows installation,
all of the existing partitions, and Knoppix.

But I should ask, at this point:  Are you _sure_ that WinME disk --
whatever it is -- "took the whole HD space"?  How are you determining
this?  Open up My Computer and get Properties on the C: drive volume.
Does it say that C: is about 10 GB?  If it does, then you have indeed
blown away everything.  If not, then maybe Knoppix is still sitting
there patiently on the second partition (one that Windows would ignore,
because it doesn't understand the partition format).

Let's be pessimistic, though, and assume Knoppix got blown away.  You
should do this:

1.  Find out for certain about your WinME CD.  Does it say "Recovery" on
    it?  Do any of its bootup screens say "Recovery"?  If it's a recovery 
    CD, that explains what happened, and you should know that the same
    will happen every time you "install" from it.  Getting a CD with a 
    real installer (if you want one) will cost you some extra $.

2.  Boot up your Knoppix CD, and at the first screen hit F2 to see boot 
    options.  I _think_ you'll want to type something like this:

    knoppix lang=us screen=1024x768 xmodule=fbdev fb1024x768

    You should study the F2 screen, the boot options, to verify that 
    I've remembered that correctly, _and_ you should boot Knoppix from
    CD with those options to test them.  I.e., make sure the video looks
    OK, and that Knoppix is usable.  Jot down the boot options you end 
    up using; you'll need them again later.

Just for the benefit of other readers:  When we first booted the Knoppix
CD on your laptop, all the video was displayed in a small portion of
your LCD screen.  I experimented with Knoppix boot options to force
Knoppix to use "framebuffer" video mode (the "fb" in the above), and
succeeded in making the problem go away.

Having done that, and hearing you say you'd like Knoppix installed into
a second partition on your hard drive, we wrote down those boot options,
and then at the end of Knoppix installation added them to the
instructions carried out at each Linux boot by the "lilo" bootloader.
(We'll get back to that point, further below.)

3.  Download BootIt Next Generation, and create a BootIt NG floppy.
Boot that floppy.  Use BootIt NG to shrink your WinME partition, thereby 
freeing up a few gigabytes of space for Knoppix.  Exit BootIt NG.  

4.  Make sure WinME still boots and is OK.

5.  Boot Knoppix from CD again, using the boot options you've tested 
    in step 2, above.  This time, append "2" to the end of those
    options.   I.e., assuming I remembered the options correctly, type

    knoppix lang=us screen=1024x768 xmodule=fbdev fb1024x768 2

    ...at the Knoppix boot prompt.  The "2" causes Knoppix to boot 
    directly into character mode, and not start up graphics.  When 
    Knoppix finishes its startup, you should be at a command prompt.
    Type "knx-hdinstall".

6.  You are now in the Knoppix installer, and it's really pretty simple
    to use.  The only difficult part is partitioning:  You'll want to 
    create a big partition #2 ("hda2") taking up almost all the remaining 
    disk space, for Linux (partition type 83 = native-Linux), plus a ~256 MB
    Linux swap partition (type 82) "hda3".  Do not touch partition hda1, 
    which is your Windows partition, with one exception:  Remove its 
    "active" (bootable) flag, and put that flag on the native-Linux
    second partition (hda2), instead.  All of the foregoing partitioning
    occurs in the "cfdisk" utility, which the Knoppix installer puts you

7.  Later on, the Knoppix installer will ask you where you want the 
    "lilo" bootloader installed.  You want it installed to /dev/hda2, 
    i.e., to your Linux partition.

8.  The Knoppix installer will complete with very little additional fuss.  
    It will finish up and reboot -- at which time, you'll see the same
    shrunk-screen problem again.  Our last step is to change the lilo 
    boot options to fix the video problem at each boot:

    Login as the root user.  Now, you'll have to find a text-editing
    program that's not too user-hostile.  I guess you could use "kate",
    the KDE text-editor, which you'll find somewhere on the KDE menus
    (bottom left).  You'll need to edit file /etc/lilo.conf .  

    You'll find that the file is so clogged with "comment" lines -- 
    ones starting with "#" and thus ignored by the lilo utility -- that
    it's difficult to read.   But if you disregard those, the contents 
    will be something like this:




In that first section, above any lines that start with "image", you will
need to insert a new line, something like this:

   append="lang=us screen=1024x768 xmodule=fbdev fb1024x768"

Save your changes, then exit the text editor.  Open a terminal window,
and type "lilo -v".  This causes the /sbin/lilo program to rewrite the
lilo boot information again to hard disk, based on the instructions 
(newly revised) in /etc/lilo.conf .  Now, reboot.  Your brand-new
Knoppix HD installation should (if we didn't screw up anything) now
address the full width of the LCD screen, again.

In case you're curious, the "lang=us" option will probably overcome
Knoppix's tendency to lapse into the German language in places, which
owes to Klaus Knopper being from Germany.

Cheers,              A good man has few enemies; a ruthless man has none.
Rick Moen                                       
rick at linuxmafia.com

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