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Big IDE drive on old bios

I have been using linux for a couple of years, but I have 
always used machines with new bios and big drives, and I 
have never had any problem with lilo.
I am in the process of building a debian machine for my office
from surplus parts. I have a five year old Dell 486 that I is
the base for the machine.  I have an offer from my boss either
to buy a ~500 meg ide drive, which would be less than the old bios
restriction, or else to get his new, 1 gig ide drive, and he gets
a new 2gig drive. I've looked at the HOWTO's and I am not sure.
Will I be able to get lilo to boot off the 1gig drive when I 
make a root partition smaller than 1023 cylinders?  Can I be 
pretty sure that I can at least boot the thing with a floppy? 

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