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Re: trimmed down rescue/root/driver disk sets

Randolph Chung wrote:
> > Another possibility would be to offer the option of using
> > driver disks on an individual basis with driver groupings based on
> > typical configurations.  In my special case, it would be nice to be able
> > to skip the driver disks completely since I don't need to load any.
> I thought you can do this already?

The following comments are my opinions as a Debian user and do not
reflect attitudes or philosophies subscribed to by the boot-floppies
development team.

Yes, you can skip configuration of modules, but AFAIK the complete
module library still gets installed and the installation will not
continue without having access to drivers.tgz via some medium.  I would
like to have the option to skip installation of the module library and
bypass the dependency on drivers.tgz   That is probably only helpful in
my particular case so I don't think it would be enough of a benfit to
people in general to justify incorporation.  However, it would allow
those doing floppy installs to remove the requirement for three disks if
they did not have any need for the module library as I don't.  Another
possibility is to make the modules installation smarter to where it only
extracts the files necessary to support the user selected modules and
knows which disk they are located on.  The most common modules could be
stored on one disc and the more obscure ones on another, that way, if no
modules were selected then debootstrap and/or modconf would not prompt
for any driver disks.  For most configurations, only the disc with the
common modules would be required.  More obscure configs would require
more of the disks.

I'd like to note that the "number of floppy disks" issue doesn't really
affect me since I'm installing with CVS bf via CD.  File sizes become
less significant when using the CD medium.  Although, smaller files are
less time consuming to build and write so preening them will benefit me
in my case as well.  Also, the stock kernel is fine for me since I only
need it to get through dbootstrap.  After that, I replace the kernel and
module library with ones optimized for the system I am using.

Another issue comes to mind for those doing installs from CD.  It could
be tricky to incorporate some kind of kernel option when installing from
this medium.  It's pretty easy to customize a Debian boot floppy from
any old kernel image and making serveral 1.44 boot images available
could be easily done as well.  However, most people install from CD's
purchased through one of the various providers.  They expect to pop the
CD in and go.  Unless some kind of kernel selection capability is built
in, they're pretty much stuck with whatever is in the boot image of the

I seem to remember some discussion about using initrd to configure
modules prior to kernel initialization.  That seems to me the best way
to go.  You can start with a bare bones kernel and initrd selected
modules for things like SCSI, RAID, and ethernet as required via some
user interface.  A smart interface could  minimize the dependancy on a
complete module library residing on disk somewhere.  I think the problem
there is a dependancy on lilo which does not support booting from an MS
DOS filesytem.  Evidently, it has been previously determined that the
boot disk *must* live on an MS DOS filesystem.  Too bad that limitation
is there.  I say, "to hell with DOS."  Many times I have seen things
like "lets just kill this beast" in the help files of the kernel's
xconfig.  That's what we should say to MS DOS file systems.

Again, my $.02

Craig H. Block, Debian ia32 user
Linux 2.2.13 SMP i686 building CVS bf

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