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Bug#40160: boot-floppies: idea: pare down kernel image for floppy

Package: boot-floppies
Severity: wishlist

Perhaps this should be a post to -devel or -policy, but I'm not a
developer so I would feel funny especially in -policy....

With a 2.2.x-sized kernel, we obviously need to start thinking about
saving space on resc*.bin.  My idea is to drop things like SCSI, IDE,
quota, kerneld, ext2, etc. from the kernel image.  SCSI/IDE/ext2 would
be loaded from modules during installation.  This poses several
problems, of course:

o (Unless we do the RedHat mkinitrd thing, which I don't like...) We
  still need a full-blown kernel image for after the reboot, thus
  bloating base*.tgz.  And I'm not sure drv*.bin has room for the extra
  modules either.

o Modules for immediate disk use (ide-hd, xt, SCSI, md, maybe parport
  and pcmcia) would have to be loaded before partitioning, meaning long
  before the main modules get untarred.  So, two separate passes of
  module config; not optimal.

o Possibility that the "full" kernel doesn't boot for someone where the
  "minimal" kernel does.  No worse than current situation really,
  except that it would confuse the user a bit.

o resc1440.bin would no longer be too good as a rescue disk.  The way
  to solve that (imho) would be to have a separately packaged script
  (included in loadlin or boot-floppies) to create a custom rescue disk
  with your real kernel on it and without things like dbootstrap.

On the other hand it would cut down on the absolute minimum memory
required for installation....

What would make this so much easier is if there were a system by which
a kernel could load modules without mounting either root or initrd.  I
envision a modified `insmod' that relinks a kernel image instead of the
running kernel.  Currently I'm in the research/design stage of trying
to implement this.  You guys will be the first to know if I ever get it

Peter Samuelson

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