Debianized Libretto

The following describes various methods of installing Debian GNU/Linux on a ToshibaLibretto L1 series laptop.

Install from floppy

The floppy is USB and so tricky for Linux installs. Fortunately this problem has already been solved [1]. Is a patch still needed for the 2.6 kernel?

Check out the Debian docs for how to replace the kernel on the rescue floppy [2].

Syslinux [3] is helpful for making boot disks.

We use GnuParted for partition tinkering. It's maybe a good idea to leave the pre-installed Windows in place in case the BIOS utility proves useful for something.

Roughly the steps were:

1. get the latest kernel (2.4.17 works well), patch it for USB boot, make the bzImage file - [Here] is a config file. Also notice the ones posted [here] and [here], and following the Debian docs on replacing the rescue kernel. Also needed are support for an install device (CD-ROM or network). Since we heard the Libretto PCMCIA is tricky, and since the USB system is already going for the floppy, a USB network adapter works nicely.
2. get the latest Woody rescue disk, overwrite linux with bzImage
3. get the latest Woody root disk (and driver disks, but maybe they aren't needed and anyway won't match the new kernel put on the rescue disk)
4. do the normal Debian install - however, once at the install menu you'll need to go to the shell and redirect /dev/fd0 to /dev/sda since the install program is hard-coded. Like this:
cd /dev
rm fd0
ln -s sda fd0

Here are more detailed instructions for creating the boot floppies:

$ wget
$ wget
$ tar xjf /usr/src/linux-2.4.17.tar.bz2
$ cd linux
$ patch -p1 < ../usb-root-floppy-2.4.15.diff
$ cp ../config_l1_boot-2.4.17 .config
$ make menuconfig
$ make dep
$ make bzImage
$ cd ..
$ wget
$ wget
$ mkdir rescue
$ su
$ losetup /dev/loop0 rescue.bin
$ mount /dev/loop0 rescue
$ mv linux/arch/i386/boot/bzImage rescue/linux.bin
$ rescue/ rescue/linux.bin
$ umount rescue
$ losetup -d /dev/loop0

NOTE: If the line rescue/ ... above failed (because you don't have a /dev/ram0 ), instead you can run rdev manually with the device numbers: rdev rescue/linux 1,0

Now insert a floppy...

$ dd if=rescue.bin of=/dev/fd0u1440 bs=1024

Insert another floppy...

$ dd if=root.bin of=/dev/fd0u1440 bs=1024

Now boot your Libretto with the rescue disk in a usb floppy drive. Remember to press the F key (U for L5) for a floppy boot. At the boot prompt type:

linux usb_root_floppy=/dev/sda

Install from PC Card storage device [L5]

It is possible to boot the L5 from PCMCIA. In Russell's opinion, this is the most straight-forward install method. It's simpler than the USB CD-ROM method or the net boot route. The problem, of course, is getting net without any media access after boot.

So, if you have a Compact Flash card and a CF to PCMCIA adapter, put it in a laptop with the proper modules, grab the 2.88M, dd it to the CF disk, and you've got yourself a bootable woody boot floppy with net support. That's all you need for a net-install. You'll want to upgrade to something besides woody before installing anything much, but it's Debian, so it's easy. Just edit your sources.list file by hand, and include your Debian sources of choice.

For the impatient:

The other nice thing about this method is that you'll have a very small, handy rescue disk in case you wreck your boot block, or some other such disaster. A CF card and PCMCIA adapter are no big deal to keep with the laptop, especially if you're already carrying a digital camera.

NOTE: this will not let you preserve your Windows install. If you need/want Windows, (in Russell's opinion) VMWare is much more practical than dual booting. Your mileage may vary.

Why does this method preclude preserving the Windows partition? There is free trial software out there that allows NTFS resizing, which can be used before the Linux install. In my experience, VMWare performs terribly on the Libretto. --John

In all honesty, it doesn't preclude preserving the Windows partition, I just did not do so myself. If you wanted to resize the NTFS partition while only booting from PCMCIA, you'd have to make another CF boot disk with the resizing utility. If it fits on a floppy image, then (in principle) it ought to work. Since I didn't actually try to do this, I have no idea if it will work in practice. You're right, though. VMWare performance is terrible on the Libretto. On the other hand, I do know that it will work. ^_^ --Russell

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Last edited August 4, 2004 4:18 pm EDT (diff)