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preparing a minimal system


  i am attempting to install a system that has as small number of files
as possible (note: i am not necessarily trying to make an installation
that will fit on a floppy).  in addition, i would like to be able to
perform the preparation of hard drives for target machines on a machine
other than the target machine (e.g. do the preparation for a 486 machine
on a pentium 2 machine).

  the steps i've outlined are:
  1. identifying the target hardware
  2. identifying the necessary files and creating them if necessary
     (e.g. kernel compilation, device file creation, identifying
     necessary binaries, configuration files, shared libraries, etc.)
  3. locating these on a target storage device
  4. preparing the storage device so that it can boot - e.g. installing
     lilo on the storage device
  5. attaching the newly configured storage device to the target machine

  studying the booting process has taught me a fair bit about what files
may be necessary for a functional system.  i've been successful in
compiling a custom kernel (which i was able to use as part of a boot
floppy on the target system), but for the life of me, i just can't seem
to get my prepared media to boot on the target system :-(

  i am suspecting that my major difficulty is w/ getting lilo to install
an appropriate mbr onto my target storage device -- most of the
available lilo documentation seems to be tailored toward creating
(configuring?) [m]brs for the system that lilo (and an installation of
linux) is already on - probably the most common situation, but
unfortunately, not mine.

  i've looked at the lilo and lilo.conf man pages, /usr/doc/lilo/Manual.txt,
the linux system administrator's guide, the bootdisk howto, the lilo
mini-howto, and some other resources, but so far, i haven't had much luck.

  i noticed that in the lilo mini-howto, the author describes a
procedure which sounds like it should work:

  unfortunately, this didn't seem to work for me.

  any help would be greatly appreciated.

p.s. i am running debian linux 1.3 and my secondary storage devices are
scsi hard drives and a magneto optic disk drive.

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