Small Linux

        By Steven G.  1998



    Small Linux is a two disk distribution of an minimal Linux.

    It has two objectives:

        - create a minimum distribution that will boot.

        - to have a distribution that will boot on a machine with 2 meg.

Quick Start

    You'll need about 20Mb in drive C: during installation.

    Small Linux is distributed as 2 raw disk images and doc files

    You can download the two disk images and get two files:
    boot_1.0.9 and

    Or, you can download a gzipped file.

    If you have the gzipped file, you need  to decompress
    the smalllinux.tar.gz file with the command:
    tar zvxf  smalllinux.tar.gz

    Untar and unzip the files. Make a Boot disk and a Root disk.
    Then boot up the computer with the Boot disk first.

    After the startup of the system is finished you're presented
    with the login prompt. The only user available is root, without

Quick Start Notes

    We do not intend to give herein a course on Unix. You should read one

    of the many books on Unix/Linux, attend a Unix course or gather

    info and docs on the Net. We can give some hints though

- Linux has support for virtual terminals. You can access them

      by pressing ALT + Fx, where Fx is a function key from F1 to F8

- some commands in Linux are similar to their DOS counterparts

      if not equal ( dir=dir, cp=copy, rm=del, cat=type )

- the equivalent of AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS are the files

      /etc/inittab and the files under directory /etc/rc.d

To set up swap space for better performance:

   # dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1024 count=8192

   # mkswap /swapfile 8192

   # sync

   # swapon /swapfile

  You can test that you have more memory with the "free"

Full Small Linux Contents

        1.0. The Small Linux package
        2.0. Linux operating system
        3.0. Installing Small Linux
                3.1. Distribution set
                3.2. Preliminary information needed
                3.3. How Small Linux works ?
                3.4. System requirements
                3.5. Installation
                        3.5.1. Making disks
                        3.5.2. Using disks
        4.0. What you get ?
        5.0. Using Small Linux
                5.1. After installation
                5.2. Booting the computer
                5.3. Making backups
                5.4. Mounting a hard drive
                5.5. Mount Additional filesystems
                5.6. Virtual terminals
        6.0. Security
        7.0. Author's comments
        8.0. Bugs
        9.0. DISCLAIMER

1.0. Small Linux

        Small Linux is a minimal distribution based on the Linux
        operating system  by Linus Torvalds. See Section 2.0
        for getting information on Linux.

        Small Linux will never to be a respectable package.
        No updates are  promised. The user  is responsible for the
        security of the system as  well as possible hardware
        and software failures during installation and opera-

        We wish to  have   an X  Windows  terminal environment
        with a minimum of 4 meg of  space requirements.
        Keep watching.

        This package  is freely  distributable. This document
        should be  included  in  all copies.

        X Window System  is a trademark of the Massachusetts
        Institute of Technology. See section 2.0.

        Most of   the software  is covered  by   GNU General
        Public License   and so the  source code must be
        available  freely.  We have taken  the binaries from
        Debian and sources  of Debian are available from

        Jump to chapter 3 if you want to install Small Linux imme-

2.0. Linux operating system, and small utilities

        For   detailed  description  of  Linux,  get   Linux
        Information   Sheet  (INFO-sheet) and  META-FAQ from*


        Small Linux is  not a  complete  Linux system.

3.0. Installing Small Linux

        3.1. Distribution set

        Small Linux comes with two floppies. The first one contains
        Linux kernel and  boot parameters. The second
        floppy disk includes basic binaries  and files needed
        to set up the computer.

        3.2 Preliminary information needed

        You need at least 2 meg of Ram and a 386 intel compatible

        3.3. How Small Linux works

        Small Linux boots the Kernel off the Boot floppy, then
        mounts the Root floppy as the root device with runable

        3.4. System requirements

        For Linux a  minimum requirement is a computer with a
        386SX processor.

        No hard disk space is required. If a hared disk is available
        it should be used.

        A swap partition on the first ide hard drive will be used
        if it is available.

        The  device  support in  Linux is  compiled  into the

        3.5. Installation

        3.5.1. Making diskettes

        You need  two  preformatted   HD disks with   no  bad
        sectors.  It might be useful to label disks as "Boot 1.0.9
        Small Linux" and "Root 1.0.9 Small Linux".  In dos you need
        RAWRITE.EXE for writing images to disks.

        C:\> rawrite

        Here  you should type  your floppy  drive letter and
        give "boot_1.0.9" as the name of disk image.

        C:\> rawrite

        Here you  should type your  floppy drive  letter and
        give "root_1.0.9" as the name of disk image.

        In UN*X the task is similar:

         % tar zxvf smalllinux.tar.gz

         % dd if=boot_1.0.9 of=/dev/fd0

         % dd if=root_1.0.9 of=/dev/fd0

        3.5.2. Using disks

        To install Small Linux

                 (1) boot from the boot disk
                 (2) insert second disk when it is asked for
                 (3) log in as root
                 (4) explore

4.0. What you get ?

        32  bit Linux multitasking  multiuser environment. a
        minimal set of utilities including cp, ls,  mount  and
        plus  basic binaries including ash a small shell.

5.0. Using Small Linux

        5.1. After installation

        After installation  all configuration  information is
        saved on  the second disk. Even  if you would like to
        do *not* write-protect  your floppies. This will soon
        lead  to a  system  crash. Also  the  removing of the
        second floppy  disk from the drive during  a  session
        is fatal. This disk  contains  binaries  and configu-
        ration files which are vital for operation.

        5.2. Booting the computer

        In  multitasking  environment  several programs   are
        executed at the same time. The operating  system  has
        also disk buffers in the memory, which  contain  data
        waiting to be written on disk. These are some  of the
        reasons why shutting  down is  a complex process. For
        this purpose there is  a  special  command, which you
        should use  when you want to end your the session. It
        is called


        You  should  give  this  command  only  after you have
        finished all your applications. The  rebooting takes a
        little  time  and you can  follow  the system  sending
        signals  to various programs. When you see the message
        from  your graphics  adaptor it is  safe  to  turn the
        power off.

        The ctrl-alt-del  key  sequence is  monitored by Linux
        and  shortly  after this  command has  been  given the
        rebooting process will start. This is fully equivalent
        to the reboot command written by hand.

        5.3. Making backups

        If you  want to make  backups, you can mount your dos
        hard disk using  mount command and simply  copy files
        to  some   desired  directory.  Backuping  might   be
        necessary for  your  configuration   files.  Remember
        that  dos file system  uses only 8+3 characters for a
        file name. Also only capital letters are supported by

        5.4. Mounting a hard drive

        In Linux  hard  disks are treated as devices and  the
        location of  the device  files is the /dev directory.
        IDE  hard disks  are  devices /dev/hda and  /dev/hdb,
        which stand for the first hard disk (BIOS C disk) and
        the  second  hard  disk (BIOS D disk) respectively. A
        single  hard disk is  usually  divided  into  several
        partitions. Each of these partitions can  be accessed
        separately and  for  this  purpose  there are devices
        /dev/hda1, /dev/hda2,  /dev/hda3 etc. for the C drive
        and /dev/hdb1, /dev/hdb2 etc. for the D drive.

        A partition can be  mounted on an empty directory. In
        Small Linux  disk there are some directories in  / for this
        purpose. These directories are:


        The  next task is  to find the correct  partition for
        mounting. This  can be  done by using the fdisk prog-
        ram. Give a command

         % fdisk -l

        The output should look like this:

        Disk /dev/hda: 14 heads, 62 sectors, 768 cylinders
        Units = cylinders of 868 * 512 bytes

           Device Boot  Begin   Start     End  Blocks   Id  System
        /dev/hda1         203     203     767  245210    5  Extended
        /dev/hda2          14      14     202   82026   83  Linux native
        /dev/hda3           4       4      13    4340    1  DOS 12-bit FAT
        /dev/hda4   *       1       1       3    1271    a  OPUS
        /dev/hda5   *     203     203     462  112809    7  OS/2 HPFS
        /dev/hda6         463     463     500   16491+  82  Linux swap
        /dev/hda7         501     501     767  115877+  83  Linux native

        Disk /dev/hdb: 8 heads, 35 sectors, 872 cylinders
        Units = cylinders of 280 * 512 bytes

           Device Boot  Begin   Start     End  Blocks   Id  System
        /dev/hdb1           1       1     586   82022+   6  DOS 16-bit >=32M
        /dev/hdb2         587     587     871   39900    5  Extended
        /dev/hdb5         587     587     871   39882+  83  Linux native

        This is a  sample partition table. We  find that
        there  are two dos file systems we can use.  With the

         % mount -t msdos /dev/hda3 /dos

        we  mount the  dos boot  partition on the /dos direc-
        tory. Now this partition  can be used for writing and
        reading data. After  finished, the  partition  can be
        released by

         % umount /dos

        The proper releasing procedure is  important, because
        otherwise the files might not be written correctly on
        the  hard disk. The reboot  program will take care of
        unmounting, if you forget to do it yourself.

        When you  know the  correct  partition device on your
        computer, give command

         % mount -t msdos /dev/hd?* /dos

        where ? stands for the correct  hard drive and *  for
        the partition number. The dos  disk will be  attached
        to your Linux file system and you can use it as  your
        floppy  disks.  Remember  the  limitations  of   file
        names, though.

        Unmount it with

         % umount /dos

        5.5. Mounting Additional filesystems

        Small Linux is capable of mount many types of availble
        filesystems, like msdos, minix, and ext2k. For major
        work mounting of a hard disk is required.

        Linux is a full operating system that is capable of
        use many filesystems in a multitasking environment.

        5.6. Virtual terminals

        While running Linux in  ascii mode,  you  can  switch
        to   another   terminal   by   pressing  keys  Alt-F?
        simultaneously, where ? can be  from 1 to 6. This way
        you can have six sessions open at the same time.  Use
        the who command to see the users currently logged in.

6.0. Security

        No security measures have been take with Small Linux.

7.0. Authors' comments

        Do not expect Small Linux to behave as well as a full
        Linux Distribution. Users are  encouraged to install
        full Linux system on their computers.

        We wish you good luck !

8.0. Bugs

        Doubtless many. Feel free to contact the author, but
        remember: we don't promise anything !


a)      we do not support Small Linux
b)      we do not promise that Small Linux does anything
c)      Small Linux distroy may all your data
d)      we can not promise that Small Linux will not
        distroy all human civilization

        Thank you !
        Steven G.