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Re: Installer problem report (dual boot loadlin)

Frans Pop wrote:
> On Monday 13 March 2006 23:17, Lachlan Patrick wrote:
>> With the installer I reformatted /dev/hda6 as format ext3,
>> then the installer automatically put the root/kernal 2.4.27
>> files onto that partition (without asking me, which was fine
>> because that was what I wanted, but also annoying that it
>> just went ahead and did that).
> Well, the installer _has_ to install the kernel and initrd in /boot, so if 
> you don't create a separate /boot partition it will indeed put them in 
> the partition that holds root.

Sorry if this isn't the right forum to suggest installer
UI improvements, but...

I was just reporting one [fairly newbie] user's surprise
that it went ahead and starting copying files without
asking "now copy boot files to /dev/hda6? (Y/n)" or even
letting a different destination be chosen.

Also, it seemed the disk partition screen didn't have
a "don't write changes" button, only "write changes"
(upgrades mightn't require any partitioning).

I would have thought FIPS/loadlin was an obvious,
low risk, way to attract new users from Windows?
But perhaps there's a good reason why FIPS or loadlin
are not options in the installer?

>> But: when loadlin launches that 2.4 kernel with root=/dev/hda6,
>> it starts booting but then gets to a page full of text and
>> prints "kernel panic, can't boot" and then just sits there.
>> I've exactly duplicated the loadlin command used to boot the
>> 2.2 kernel, except I changed the parameters to use the new
>> kernel file and root filesystem.
> The world has moved on and it seems you haven't (or at least, not yet).

This is my first big upgrade since 2001 (the old
kernel didn't support all my hardware, Windows did).
With luck all my hardware will now work in Debian.
And if this works, I can start converting more friends
and family to Debian.

> Both the 2.4 and 2.6 kernels are modular and thus require an initrd in 
> order to boot. It seems to me you forgot to tell loadlin about loading 
> the initrd and it is a known issue that older versions of loadlin don't 
> handle (larger) initrds.

OK, I didn't know that, so I'll try the initrd parameter,
that helps a lot.

>> The installer did want to write GRUB to the MBR of /dev/hda1
>> but I wouldn't let it.
> Why not? The installer should recognize both your Windows installation and 
> your current Linux installation (unless you've done very weird things to 
> it, like removing the kernel from /boot).

Oh, I'm sure it would have worked.

But given the choice between "modify the MBR? (Y/n)" and
"use a tried and trusted technique which doesn't involve
manipulation of the boot record", call me strange, but I'd
rather use the tried and trusted technique. I had dabbled
with LILO previously but decided I didn't really want to
be fiddling with the MBR if there was an alternative
(which there was).

As an upgrade scenario, I had a working system, but the
installer didn't recognise that. On another matter,
does the installer check what's in the MBR before
recommending overwriting it?

> It should provide grub menu 
> lines that allow you to boot Windows and your old linux install.
> ...
> We've put a lot of effort into dual-boot support.

OK, I'm sure grub is great. I'm just saying the user
might not want to use it, for whatever reason, e.g.
they already have LILO installed.

> Even if it does not, it's a hell of a lot easier to tell grub how to boot 
> Windows than to tell Windows how to boot linux...

I haven't used grub, I only used LILO, but in Windows
with loadlin, I use a working one-line batch file:
  C:\Linux\loadlin.exe C:\Linux\vmlinuz root=/dev/hda2
I think there were a few more lines in the autoexec
to provide the choice. It wasn't hard. If grub's that
simple then the real difference is in whether a MBR
needs to be modified, and what the risks/benefits are.

>> Then it got upset and said I really should install GRUB somewhere, so I
>> relented and installed it on /dev/hda6.
> That's nonsense. You could just have used the <go back> button to exit to 
> the menu and selected the "Don't use a bootloader" option instead.

Well, I agree, the user *should* be able to do this.
I'm just reporting that when I used the installer,
I chose to not install grub, and a second screen appeared
saying "are you sure? grub's great, you should at least
put it on a floppy". So I had already chosen not to use it.

> Try reading some of the available documentation like the Release Notes and 
> the Installation Guide. If you have any further questions, please ask on 
> the debian-user list.

OK, will do, thanks.

> Good luck with your installation.
> Cheers,


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