[pc110] Experiences with RedHat 6 on PC110

Bob Marinelli (bob nospam at marinelli.org)
Mon, 26 Jul 1999 18:22:15 -0700

First, thanks everyone for all the useful information archived on this
list. It has been a great help while getting to know a recent addition
to the family, a brand new PC110 recently loaded with Linux (RedHat 6).

The installation was pretty much perfect, although with just a PC110 and
no docking station I did have to read the loadlin man page & learn a bit
about forcing hard disk geometry (was needed for a compact flash in
/dev/hdb). This is all well documented in the loadlin man page, all you
need to know is that your /dev/hdb will have funny geometry and will be
happier with hdb=noprobe hdb=xxx,xxx,xxx (the geometry can be found by
msd.exe from dos).

As for RedHat 6, well it sure is larger than 5.2 or earlier. I'd
originally hoped to install directly onto a 48MB flash but even with no
options at all, RH6 wanted around 120 MB to install. Much of it seems to
be related to the new cool GUI configuration tools.

As an alternative, I instead used a 340MB PCMCIA hard disk on an
extender card (so the ethernet card can fit in too).

Here are the steps (maybe you know a better way?):

- Create some partitions on the PCMCIA hard disk, say 220 meg for Linux,
a few meg for swap, and the rest for the installtion files from your
RedHat CD.

- Copy RedHat/base and some of the RedHat/RPMS onto your installation
partition. To figure out which RPMS are needed (you won't have space for
all of them), see the file RedHat/base/comps and you will need the ones
in base to get started.

- Look in the dosutils directory, read the autoboot.bat file (and notice
the typo - there is no misc\src\trees\initrd.img file).

- Look in the trees directory and you will see two choices for initrd

- One is initrd-local.img, the other is initrd-network.img. I was trying
for a hard disk install and so used intrd-local.img.

So to get started, just make up a little dos flash disk with
loadlin.exe, vmlinuz and initrd-local.img, then run loadlin (with
hdb=noprompt hdb=xxx,xxx,xxx if you have a device that needs manual
geometry) and you should start right up in the RedHat installation.

When it asks where the installation RedHat directory is, tell it the
partition where you put the base & RPMS files.

I used hdc1 for the Linux root, hdc2 for the installation files.

At this point installation starts, you can probably say no to most
questions (at least I did since without a docking station there aren't
many options).

It went fairly fast, and at the end used up around 140 MB of the root

I then recycled the other scratch paritition as user space.

I/O configuration.

The default PCMCIA services came up first time! It recognized my
ethernet PCMCIA card which configured same as on a regular laptop.

smbclient & nfs client both worked fine. I see some cryptic errors when
doing the nfs mount, but that probably means I didn't read the nfsd page
long enough. The mount works fine, in any case.

Recompilation was uneventful, some great news - the standard RedHat
config now includes an option for the PC110 touch pad!

After seeing that, I was very encouraged to install X and try it out.
Sigh, the recent (including RedHat 6) SVGA appear to not work correctly
out-of-the-box on the PC110.

At least for me, the vga16 is fine, X came up as usual, but everything
I've tried to get 256 color mode ends in dismal failure. There are
horizontal bands of sparkling pixels (which might well be linux memory)
and I've heard that there may be patches for this but haven't been able
to find any so far.

So, if anyone on the list can help point to a SVGA patch for the PC110
suitable for XFree86 3.3.3 or there'bouts it would be very much

Oh, and by the way - I did hear from IBM Japan that they are pretty sure
the brand new IBM MicroDrive will actually work in a PC110 *if used in
the PCMCIA slot*. The mail said it draws too much power for the CF slot,
but if used in an adapter should work fine in the PC110 (and only take
up one PCMCIA slot).

I'm waiting for the local photo shop to get their first batch of
MicroDrives in & will try one out in the store - and post here the
results. If it works we will all have a great solution to the PCMCIA
slot problem - 340 MB disk and a free slot...

Also did a run with find -atime and it does appear that maybe 50MB is
actually *touched* when doing normal operations, including X and
networking. So a 64MB CF might actually work too, 'tho way more work to
cull down to the small size.



Bob Marinelli
<bob nospam at marinelli.org>
sunny california