Small Linux FAQ

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Q: When was this FAQ started? Is it up to date?

A: Absolutely! As of my typing this up at 4am in the morning October 4th 1998.
Last changed: see the bottom of the wiki page

Q: What is Small Linux?

A: Small Linux is a partial distribution of the Linux kernel and support files that can boot on older x86 systems with less than 5 meg of RAM memory.

Q: What is Linux?

A: See:

Q: How do I learn Unix and Linux?

A: See: LearningUnix

Q: Are there other Small Linux like projects:

A: See: SmallLinuxLikeProjects

Q: Where do I get useful programs like lynx and ppp?

A: See: Programs for Small Linux Adding Programs

Q: Have other people tried to install Small Linux?

A: See: Experiences Installing Small Linux

Q: How do I get images onto diskettes?

A: Make sure both root and boot diskettes are formated 1.44 dd if=root of=/dev/fd0 where "root" equals file name of the root image as stored on your system. Under Windows, consider using Rawrite for windows

Q: How do I boot up?

A: Insert boot diskette into floppy drive on machine you want to boot Small Linux onto. Turn off machine, then turn on machine. The boot loader in the computer should read the boot sectors off the boot diskette and load the linux boot message. The next step should tell you exactly when to insert the root diskette.

here is how it looks booting up under the Plex86 emulator: SmallPlex86

Q: What do I do when it asks for login: then password?

A: Root is the login name.

 Hit enter. 
 Then for password, just hit enter.
 Be careful you have the power of God when you are logged in as root...don't launch the missiles!

Q: Should I use Small Linux to run my computer?

A: No! Get Debian or Red Hat or S.u.S.E. or Slackware or Mandrake. Small Linux only addresses a specific problem -- you have a 386 computer with less than 4 meg of RAM.

Q: How do I use Small Linux on my Thinkpad

A: See the notes at: Small Linux on Thinkpad

Q: Can I install Small Linux on my hard drive?

A: Yes, at least I did.

 See also the script /Install/ on the root disk.
I don't remember the exact steps though. I think I did the following:

1. fdisk - set hda1 as linux native 18 meg set hda2 as linux swap 2 meg

2. mkfs.ext2 - format main partition mkfs.ext2 /dev/hda1 mkswap - format swap partition mkswap /dev/hda2

3. copied entire root diskette to hda1 mount /dev/hda1 /mnt cp -a -v /* /mnt (it should skip/hang on /proc - create it manually and resume with the dirs after it)

4. change mtab and fstab on hard drive 5. tested two stage boot from boot diskette to hard drive

6. copied vmlinuz kernel image to root of main drive

7. modified lilo.conf and ran lilo

8.populated the file system with usable files like: lynx, ftp, telnet and etc.

link for steps I used on a Palmax: Palmax Install

link for steps in German

Q: Can I use all pre-compilied binaries with Small Linux?

A: No. Small Linux is compilied to run binaries compilied to libc 5.x.xx so, a.out binaries will not run and newer glibc 2 binaries will not run.

Q: How do I do networking?

A: See Network Connections

Q: How do I get boot.b to make a dual boot system

A: look at

Q: Small Linux won't boot up on my diskette drive, now what!

A: Sorry, some machines will not boot Small Linux. I suspect it is usually a problem with the floppy controller.

Q: Can I send you a vast sums of money and make you rich?

A: I am not into getting rich, but if you have some overpowering urge to send money, donate to a non-profit project like Debian, or send it to me at SuperAnt POB 91418 Pasadena, CA 91109

Q: Will Small Linux cause problems for my relationship with my girlfriend?

A: Yes, a relationship with linux can be addictive and consume vast amounts of time, causing problems with: human relationships, family, job; and efforts to make the world a better place.

Q: Small Linux erased my hard drive with the financial data for our Fortune 500 company, and, now we have lost 100 million dollars. Are you going to pay for this loss?

A: No! Small Linux is covered by GPL. You are free to use it, make a million copies of it, modify it to your hearts delight. But, it is not offered with any warranty or promise of usability, functionality, or safety of any kind. You use it, or attempt to use it at your own risk. If it breaks anything, you get to keep both pieces. Perhaps you should have backed up your data for the Fortune 500 company.

Q: Do you care about anything other than Linux?

A: See: SocialActivism

Q: How do I install a non-US keyboard-layout?

A: I don't really know. ;-)
The programm loadkmap (/bin/loadkmap) reads binary keymaps from stdin.
Those binary Keymaps can be created using the program dumpkmap (not contained in small linux).
The program dumpkeymap can be found here:

  fill-in-here ;-)
Using dumpkeymap to create a binary keymap-file:
  fill-in-here ;-)
Activate a binary keymap file:
  loadkmap < BinKeymapFile

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Last edited September 20, 2004 12:48 pm (diff)