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Creating small router systems

Our goal is to setup a number of small Debian systems, fairly small and
simple, on old 486's to use as routers. These each have 8M memory,
Ethernet, and a small hard disk; no CDROM.
 [We have a portable CDROM (Mountain), but couldn't find a Linux Driver for

I want to confirm if I understand the easiest way to do this;

1) install base system from floppies; then install rest over network.
  -- Base system includes networking and FTP?
  -- Can we FTP from a CDROM on another local system?
     -- I presume it could it be a W95 FTP server?  

2) physically move the target hard disk to a support system, and run the
install process there, and then unplug and move back.
  -- Is the install in any way localized to the installing system?
    -- it would be a different disk position, different procesor (Pentium
vs. 486)

We tried #2, and had some odd problems, unsure of the origin.
Thanks for any comments or suggestions.

Gregory Guthrie
Computer Science Department

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