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Bug#190178: installation-reports: Feature Request: x86 tftpboot including rescue.bin and drivers.tgz

Package: installation-reports
Version: n/a
Severity: wishlist

The x86 tftpboot.img appears to contain only a kernel. As such it is
necessary to copy root.bin over to /tftpboot. Even then users cannot
install kernel & driver modules as the rescue.bin and drivers.tgz files
are not available and cannot be retrieved over the network.

I was able to install using TFTP by creating a new, larger root.bin
(which, for the sake of the argument I called tftproot.bin):

  compressed        uncompressed  ratio uncompressed_name
  8423996           15175680      44.5% /tftpboot/tftproot.bin

I did this by:

dd if=/dev/zero of=tftproot.bin bs=1024 count=14820
mke2fs tftproot.bin
mount -o loop tftproot.bin tftproot/

and then copied the contents of root.bin over:

mount -o loop root.bin root/
cp -ax root/* tftproot/

followed by rescue.bin and drivers.tgz:

cp rescue.bin drivers.tgz tftproot/tmp/
umount tftproot/
gzip -9 tftproot.bin
mv tftproot.bin.gz tftproot.bin

My pxelinux.cfg/default file is as follows:

  default installer
  prompt 1
  timeout 600

  label installer
    kernel tftpboot.img
    append load initrd=tftproot.bin ramdisk_size=16384

After mounting root, I Alt-F2 to the second VT, press enter for a shell

mkdir -p /target/dists/woody/main/disks-i386/current/images-1.44/
cp /tmp/rescue.bin /tmp/drivers.tgz

And finally, I tell it to load kernel & driver modules from a mounted

I'm not convinced this is the cleanest way to do this, but it worked for
me and saved me a lot of trouble. It would be nice if the tftproot.bin
could be merged with tftpboot.img (the kernel) so as only one file is
required, and I read about various tools (bpbatch, etherboot, etc.
utils) being able to do this, but I'm not sure they do it in a portable
fashion as most talk about MBA, 3com nics, or etherboot floppies.

I imagine the simplest way to allow for this functionality is to have
the installer check its own root before asking for the kernel & drivers
from elsewhere.

I definitely think an x86 tftp installer which does not rely on nfs
roots would be important in the next release as there are more and
more embedded systems out there (like the via eden system I'm working
on), and plenty of legacy free PCs too.

-- System Information:
Debian Release: 3.0
Architecture: i386
Kernel: Linux via-eden 2.4.19-686-smp #1 SMP Thu Aug 8 22:06:13 EST 2002 i686

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