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Re: floppies, a radical proposal



On Thursday 31 May 2007 20:47, peter green wrote:
> Since we already know the bios can read the users floppy drive (or they
> wouldn't have been booting off it) it would seem to make sense to load
> all the floppies BEFORE loading linux and abandoning the bios's
> services.

Here are the contents of an Etch i386 boot floppy:
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1137494 2007-03-10 08:57 linux
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  117159 2007-03-10 08:57 initrd.gz
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root      59 2007-03-10 08:57 disk.lbl
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root    9932 2007-03-10 08:57 ldlinux.sys
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root     591 2007-03-10 08:57 syslinux.cfg
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root      67 2007-03-10 08:57 boot.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root     859 2007-03-10 08:57 f1.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root     666 2007-03-10 08:57 f2.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root     616 2007-03-10 08:57 f3.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root     416 2007-03-10 08:57 f4.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root     806 2007-03-10 08:57 f5.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root    1139 2007-03-10 08:57 f6.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root     916 2007-03-10 08:57 f7.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root    1102 2007-03-10 08:57 f8.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root     766 2007-03-10 08:57 f9.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root     568 2007-03-10 08:57 f10.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root    9519 2007-03-10 08:57 splash.rle

As you can see, almost all space on the boot floppy is already used by the 
kernel, with the initrd at about 10% of that and the rest negligible.

So, the only real issue is the size of the kernel and freeing up space by 
being able to do without an initrd on the boot floppy (although nice), 
would probably only buy us some time.

So, my main question would be: what is possible?
Can we avoid the need for the minimal "boot floppy initrd"?
Could the kernel be split over 2 floppies?
Will users still be able to choose installation methods and enter boot 
parameters?

I'm very much in favor of following up on this. If it could mean 
supporting booting from USB floppies again, that would be great.

Cheers,
FJP

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