As posted on the ILUG mailing list.


I don't normally do this, but I had to solve a problem that's possible for some to encounter. Any and all of the below can be contradicted or improved upon. Feel free.

I downloaded Fedora Core 2 last week with the intention of installing it on a desktop system I use here for experimentation. The system already runs Fedora Core 1. Here is what I did to install FC1:

  • Downloaded isos and put them onto a hard drive partition of the target system.
  • Mounted the first iso using the loop device:
# mount -o loop /opt/isos/yarrow-i386-disc1.iso /mnt/FC1.1
  • Put a floppy into the drive and created a boot disk:
# dd if=/mnt/FC1.1/images/bootdisk.img of=/dev/fd0
  • Rebooted the system and when asked, I chose to install from isos on the hard drive. Side note: you specify the hardware partition, in my case /dev/hda9. The directory you say where the isos are to be found is relative to the mount point of that partition and not an absolute path. In my case, after saying what partition the isos were on, I had to say they were in "/isos" and not "/opt/isos".

This is a suitable way for me to install for a number of reasons:

  • I have access to high bandwidth and can download isos somewhat easily.
  • I don't have access to a CD burner.
  • For as long as I have enough disk-space, I can continue to download isos and install many different distros – and chop and change among them. Once the disk space starts to get full, I can delete the less recent isos.

So, when Fedora Core 2 was announced, I decided the above would be an effective way to see what it's like. However, and this is the point of this story, I encountered a few problems. I also solved them:

  • As before, I downloaded the isos into the /opt/isos directory.
  • I mounted the first iso as above:
# mount -o loop /opt/isos/FC2-i386-disc1.iso /mnt/FC2.1
  • I put a floppy into the drive and went to create a boot disk:
# dd if=/mnt/FC2.1/images/diskboot.img of=/dev/fd0

And here is where I encountered my first problem. The listing of the images directory is:

[root@localhost images]# ls -Fl
total 10202
-rw-r--r--  2 root root 4151296 May 13 10:24 boot.iso
-rw-r--r--  2 root root 6291456 May 13 10:24 diskboot.img
drwxr-xr-x  2 root root    2048 May 13 10:27 pxeboot/
-rw-r--r--  2 root root     655 May 13 10:23 README
-r--r--r--  1 root root     881 May 13 10:39 TRANS.TBL

Yes indeed. diskboot.img is 6MiB big. 4 floppies worth. Reading the README, it appears the only options are to burn the boot.iso onto a CD or to put the badly named diskboot.img onto a memory key-ring-thingy. Neither is suitable as I don't have the former and I didn't want to go messing around with the latter, risking my valuable data.

After some mucking around, here's what I came up with:

  • I mounted the diskboot.img file using the loop device:
# mount -o loop /mnt/FC2.1/images/diskboot.img /mnt/image
  • I copied the contents into a subdirectory of /boot:
# mkdir /boot/FC2install
# cp -rv /mnt/image/* /boot/FC2install
  • I edited the file /boot/grub/grub.conf to include a new entry. Essentially, it was a copied and hacked version of the default entry:
title Fedora Core 2 install
     root (hd0,0)
     kernel /FC2install/vmlinuz
     initrd /FC2install/initrd.img

I don't know whether grub expects configuration lines to be preceded by a tab (^I) or if that's a convention, but what you see above is verbatim what I added to the file.

  • I rebooted the system and when the grub menu was presented, I chose "Fedora Core 2 install".
  • Things looked good until I realised that I wasn't being asked how I wanted to install – No option to go "text", how do I "kickstart", what about my "lowres" monitor? I halted the installation and sat back to think.

Looking in the file /boot/FC2install/syslinux.cfg you can see what options are passed to the kernel in order to perform the different options. I realised that grub just runs the kernel command that you put into the entry. I toyed with trying to figure out how to get the options presented to you as though the system was booting from an installation floppy or a CD. Then I realised that I couldn't be bothered. I stuck with the above grub entry which is the default, but if you prefer the "text", "lowres" or "ks" options, or whatever, you can use /boot/FC2install/syslinux.cfg to determine what options to specify. Anyway, I started again…

  • I was asked the standard questions about installation session language and keyboard.
  • I specified that I wanted to install from the hard drive partition /dev/hda9 and that the isos were to be found in the directory /isos.
  • I was presented with a message telling me that the isos it found were not Fedora Code 2 isos and what the hell was I talking about?! Sitting back time again.

Looking at the installation log that's accessible (during the installation session) by pressing ALT-F3, I saw that the installer mounted each of the isos in that directory and did some checking. The contents of /opt/isos were:

[root@localhost isos]# ls -l
total 4801492
-rw-------  1 root  root   667529216 May 21 14:52 FC2-i386-disc1.iso
-rw-------  1 root  root   665802752 May 21 18:55 FC2-i386-disc2.iso
-rw-------  1 root  root   669016064 May 26 15:13 FC2-i386-disc3.iso
-rw-------  1 root  root   203737088 May 26 17:07 FC2-i386-disc4.iso
-rw-------  1 root  root   732463104 Apr 22 18:30 freeduc-cd-1.4.1.iso
-rwx------  1 root  root   660340736 Apr 22 18:31 yarrow-i386-disc1.iso
-rwx------  1 root  root   667516928 Apr 22 18:32 yarrow-i386-disc2.iso
-rwx------  1 root  root   645464064 Apr 22 18:32 yarrow-i386-disc3.iso

First, the installer mounted the freeduc iso, wasn't happy with it and then mounted yarrow-i386-disc1.iso. It seemed to be happy with this one. It looked for a file called updates.img, and then a file stage2.img. Here's where it complained. The installer was happy that the iso was a Fedora Cora iso, but when it look in this file it noticed it wasn't an FC2 iso. Easily resolved.

  • I created the directory /opt/isos/FC1 and put all the yarrow*.iso files into it.
  • I rebooted the system again, chose the "Fedora Core 2 install" grub option, answered the first questions and told the installer that the isos were to be found on /dev/hda9 in /isos.
  • The installation continued without a hitch.

A lot of what I did was hunch work and I can't explain it thoroughly. I'm especially confused as to why the sequence of mounting isos took the freeduc iso first, then the yarrow isos, and presumably then the FC2 isos if it got that far.

However, if anyone is presented with a similar scenario: no CD burner, no memory key-ring-thingy and a boot disk image that's too large to fit onto a floppy, the above might help.


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