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1. Preface

Important

This document may be outdated. If the date on the title page is more than six months ago, please check the Bootdisk-HOWTO homepage to see if a more recent version exists.

Although this document should be legible in its text form, it looks much better in Postscript, PDF or HTML forms because of the typographical conventions used.

1.1. Version notes

Graham Chapman wrote the original Bootdisk-HOWTO and supported it through version 3.1. Tom Fawcett started as co-author around the time kernel v2 was introduced, and he is the document's current maintainer. Chapman has disappeared from the Linux community and his whereabouts are currently unknown.

This information is intended for Linux on the Intel platform. Much of this information may be applicable to Linux on other processors, but I have no first-hand experience or information about this. If you have experience with bootdisks on other platforms, please contact me.

1.2. To do list

  1. User-mode-linux ( http://user-mode-linux.sourceforge.net) seems like a great way to test out bootdisks without having to reboot your machine constantly. I haven't been able to get it to work. If anyone has been using this consistently with homemade bootdisks, please let me know.

  2. Re-analyze distribution bootdisks and update the "How the Pros do it" section.

  3. Figure out just how much of the init-getty-login sequence can be simplified, and rip it out. A few people have said that init can be linked directly to /bin/sh; if so, and if this imposes no great limitations, alter the instructions to do this. This would eliminate the need for getty, login, gettydefs, and maybe all that PAM and NSS stuff.

  4. Go through the 2.4 kernel source code again and write a detailed explanation of how the boot process and ramdisk-loading process work, in detail. (If only so that I understand it better.) There are some issues about initrd and limitations of booting devices (eg flash memory) that I don't understand yet.

  5. Delete section that describes how to upgrade existing distribution bootdisks. This is usually more trouble than it's worth.

  6. Replace rdev commands with LILO keywords.

1.3. Feedback and credits

I welcome any feedback, good or bad, on the content of this document. I have done my best to ensure that the instructions and information herein are accurate and reliable, but I don't know everything and I don't keep up on kernel development. Please let me know if you find errors or omissions. When writing, please indicate the version number of the document you're referencing. Be nice.

We thank the many people who assisted with corrections and suggestions. Their contributions have made it far better than we could ever have done alone.

Send comments and corrections to the author at the email address above. Please read Section 7 before asking me questions. Do not email me disk images.

1.4. Distribution policy

Copyright © 1995-2002 by Tom Fawcett and Graham Chapman. This document may be distributed under the terms set forth in the Linux Documentation Project License. Please contact the authors if you are unable to get the license.

This is free documentation. It is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.