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issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
07-11-2014, 08:37 AM (This post was last modified: 07-11-2014 08:42 AM by mat619.)
Post: #1
Bug issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
Hi!

First of all thank you very much for creating and maintaining a distro in 2014 that can run on computers from the dark dinosaur age! Smile *highfive*

Unfortunately I'm experiencing some issues installing 0.1 alpha 4 on my dinosaur.

First of all its specs:
Mainboard: First International Computers 386DX-SC-HQ
CPU: AMD Am386 DX-40
RAM: 20 MB
HDD: Quantum Fireball 3.2 AT, attached to an ISA bus IDE card as master
ODD: old Samsung IDE CD-R/RW drive, attached to the same ISA bus IDE card as slave
FDD: 3.5" drive, attached to floppy port of the same ISA bus IDE card

Partition layout:
1, primary: FreeDOS, 500 MB
2, primary: previously free space, now DeLi(cate), 1000 MB
3, primary: previously free space, now swap, 100 MB

Needless to say, booting from CD is unsupported by the 1991 vintage BIOS, so I tried booting from CD via you boot floppy disk, which unfortunately didn't work, black screen, no activity, that's it. So I launched the installer from the boot floppy plus root floppy, which worked.

Oh, by the way, I think I found a bug there:
At the first try I mixed up the root floppy disk with some other floppy I had lying around (yeah, I should probably label them, couldn't be bothered yet Tongue) ... The system started reading the wrong floppy and complained after a few seconds that I should please feed it the right one. So I did, it started reading again and - kernel paniced after a few seconds! Exclamation

OK, hard reset, new attempt, this time with no wrong floppy disk in between, no kernel panic. So I launched cfdisk, created partitions number 2 and 3, launched the installer and went with the default choices for the first install attempt, which lead me to the pacman-bug you discovered with eggi36 over in the "No X Windows" thread. After reading your post explaining the pacman issue, I started another install attempt, this time chosing the unpacking-option, which apparently worked.

From there on things seemed to go well: The grub installer came up, which I pointed at the MBR of my HDD and which reported it successfully installed itself there. Then the password prompts showed up, unprivileged user account creation, so far so good. But then the additional package install came. It successfully found the CD, and started "installing" - the names just flew by, it clearly did nothing, but reported success. I guess that's a subsequent error to the earlier pacman problem...?

Setup reported to be finished and that I should reboot, which I did - only to be hit by GRUB Error 16 afterwards. Now my system is not bootable. Sad
Any idea why that happened, and more importantly, how to fix this?

Thanks in advance for your help and kind regards,
Matt
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07-12-2014, 09:08 PM
Post: #2
RE: issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
(07-11-2014 08:37 AM)mat619 Wrote:  Hi!

Hello Matt.

(07-11-2014 08:37 AM)mat619 Wrote:  First of all thank you very much for creating and maintaining a distro in 2014 that can run on computers from the dark dinosaur age! Smile *highfive*

It's a challenge :]

(07-11-2014 08:37 AM)mat619 Wrote:  Unfortunately I'm experiencing some issues installing 0.1 alpha 4 on my dinosaur.

First of all its specs:
Mainboard: First International Computers 386DX-SC-HQ
CPU: AMD Am386 DX-40
RAM: 20 MB
HDD: Quantum Fireball 3.2 AT, attached to an ISA bus IDE card as master
ODD: old Samsung IDE CD-R/RW drive, attached to the same ISA bus IDE card as slave
FDD: 3.5" drive, attached to floppy port of the same ISA bus IDE card

Wooow :] You're probably the first user ever testing that on 386 CPU. I do have 386, but it has only 4MB and that's insufficient.

(07-11-2014 08:37 AM)mat619 Wrote:  Partition layout:
1, primary: FreeDOS, 500 MB
2, primary: previously free space, now DeLi(cate), 1000 MB
3, primary: previously free space, now swap, 100 MB

1.6GB drive on 386 motherboard and having the linux partition crossing the 504MB addressing boundary? No wonder it doesn't work :] You probably didn't read the warning about the separate /boot partition, did you? Your BIOS cannot read data from areas >504MB ... in fact there might be much lover limit than 504MB. If you don't want to lose your DOS data, then recover your freedos and wait for the next Alpha CD with DOS booting support. If you don't need the data from your first DOS partition, then you could repartition your drive so that the first partition is used for /boot (15MB is sufficient). Then you can create ~480MB sized DOS partition for FreeDOS (just a note ... even FreeDOS needs to read its critical data from areas addressable by the BIOS. The rest of the harddrive is usually accessed directly via the ports by the OS kernel. You need the BIOS just to boot the kernel.

(07-11-2014 08:37 AM)mat619 Wrote:  Needless to say, booting from CD is unsupported by the 1991 vintage BIOS, so I tried booting from CD via you boot floppy disk, which unfortunately didn't work, black screen, no activity, that's it. So I launched the installer from the boot floppy plus root floppy, which worked.

Oh, by the way, I think I found a bug there:
At the first try I mixed up the root floppy disk with some other floppy I had lying around (yeah, I should probably label them, couldn't be bothered yet Tongue) ... The system started reading the wrong floppy and complained after a few seconds that I should please feed it the right one. So I did, it started reading again and - kernel paniced after a few seconds! Exclamation

this is a known kernel bug with low probability of fixing ... we could document that at least

(07-11-2014 08:37 AM)mat619 Wrote:  OK, hard reset, new attempt, this time with no wrong floppy disk in between, no kernel panic. So I launched cfdisk, created partitions number 2 and 3, launched the installer and went with the default choices for the first install attempt, which lead me to the pacman-bug you discovered with eggi36 over in the "No X Windows" thread. After reading your post explaining the pacman issue, I started another install attempt, this time chosing the unpacking-option, which apparently worked.

From there on things seemed to go well: The grub installer came up, which I pointed at the MBR of my HDD and which reported it successfully installed itself there.

Grub was installed successfully as the linux kernel can address the whole HDD capacity, just the BIOS cannot read it back :]

(07-11-2014 08:37 AM)mat619 Wrote:  Then the password prompts showed up, unprivileged user account creation, so far so good. But then the additional package install came. It successfully found the CD, and started "installing" - the names just flew by, it clearly did nothing, but reported success. I guess that's a subsequent error to the earlier pacman problem...?

Yeah ... still the pacman issue.

(07-11-2014 08:37 AM)mat619 Wrote:  Setup reported to be finished and that I should reboot, which I did - only to be hit by GRUB Error 16 afterwards. Now my system is not bootable. Sad
Any idea why that happened, and more importantly, how to fix this?

Thanks in advance for your help and kind regards,
Matt

Do you have any communicator? IRC, Jabber? It's always better to troubleshoot online ... but the hints I gave you should work.
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07-12-2014, 09:23 PM
Post: #3
RE: issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
btw. the next Alpha CD should be available tomorrow
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07-13-2014, 09:25 AM (This post was last modified: 07-13-2014 09:26 AM by mat619.)
Post: #4
RE: issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
I wasn't sure if the notice about creating a separate /boot partition really did apply to my system, because it doesn't seem to be one of those that's absolutely unable to address more than 500-something MB. AFAIK some old BIOS didn't suffer from that boundary limit, and to my surprise mine accepted the HDDs geometry parameters just fine. Also the BIOS's built-in HDD diagnostic program was able to scan the whole 3.2 GB of my Quantum drive - at least so it reported.

But okay, while apparently it has some abilities that surpass the 500 MB+ limit, it definitely can't boot from there. Undecided

Cool thing the new alpha build comes out tomorrow, will try that then and just get rid of my FreeDOS partition in the process. I never liked DOS anyway Tongue
Will the pacman issue be fixed in that version?
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07-13-2014, 01:12 PM
Post: #5
RE: issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
(07-13-2014 09:25 AM)mat619 Wrote:  I wasn't sure if the notice about creating a separate /boot partition really did apply to my system, because it doesn't seem to be one of those that's absolutely unable to address more than 500-something MB. AFAIK some old BIOS didn't suffer from that boundary limit, and to my surprise mine accepted the HDDs geometry parameters just fine. Also the BIOS's built-in HDD diagnostic program was able to scan the whole 3.2 GB of my Quantum drive - at least so it reported.

Can you make few photos of the motherboard and the particular BIOS screens? :] I'd love to see that as I've never seen such high-end 386 motherboard.

(07-13-2014 09:25 AM)mat619 Wrote:  But okay, while apparently it has some abilities that surpass the 500 MB+ limit, it definitely can't boot from there. Undecided

Cool thing the new alpha build comes out tomorrow, will try that then and just get rid of my FreeDOS partition in the process. I never liked DOS anyway Tongue
Will the pacman issue be fixed in that version?

Yes, it will .... in fact it already is, I'm just trying to finetune other stuff. Especially the locale selection is pretty annoying and unfriendly.
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07-14-2014, 08:38 PM
Post: #6
RE: issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
sry for the delay ... still need to fix few tiny issues prior finalizing the CD
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07-15-2014, 05:36 AM (This post was last modified: 07-15-2014 05:38 AM by mat619.)
Post: #7
RE: issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
(07-13-2014 01:12 PM)tavvva Wrote:  
(07-13-2014 09:25 AM)mat619 Wrote:  I wasn't sure if the notice about creating a separate /boot partition really did apply to my system, because it doesn't seem to be one of those that's absolutely unable to address more than 500-something MB. AFAIK some old BIOS didn't suffer from that boundary limit, and to my surprise mine accepted the HDDs geometry parameters just fine. Also the BIOS's built-in HDD diagnostic program was able to scan the whole 3.2 GB of my Quantum drive - at least so it reported.

Can you make few photos of the motherboard and the particular BIOS screens? :] I'd love to see that as I've never seen such high-end 386 motherboard.

Sure, here are some photos.
Because there's currently a whole bunch of stuff piled on top of the machine (we're currently renovating the room) I unfortunately couldn't make you a photo of the whole motherboard - all I had was one I made earlier as a reminder to note the model number, on which the CPU is also seen. Here is a (sadly low res) photo of the whole board.
The BIOS screens don't show the analysis result, because that takes hours to complete, and I didn't take photo the first time I ran it. But as you can see, it accepts the whole drive capacity correctly.

Regarding the new alpha, no need to hurry - it's done when it's done Smile


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07-15-2014, 08:53 PM (This post was last modified: 07-15-2014 09:07 PM by tavvva.)
Post: #8
RE: issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
(07-15-2014 05:36 AM)mat619 Wrote:  Sure, here are some photos.
Because there's currently a whole bunch of stuff piled on top of the machine (we're currently renovating the room) I unfortunately couldn't make you a photo of the whole motherboard - all I had was one I made earlier as a reminder to note the model number, on which the CPU is also seen. Here is a (sadly low res) photo of the whole board.

Pity, you can't take shots :] It would be nice to see the whole thing one day.
I found the following motherboard at home.

   

It's called BC3486F and looks like it supports 386 CPUs and has 8 slots for 30-pin SIMM memory modules. The motherboard supports up to 32MB (8x4MB) of RAM. I'd like to downgrade the CPU to 386DX/40 and put there at least 16MB of RAM to have something for low-spec tests.

(07-15-2014 05:36 AM)mat619 Wrote:  The BIOS screens don't show the analysis result, because that takes hours to complete, and I didn't take photo the first time I ran it. But as you can see, it accepts the whole drive capacity correctly.

Like I thought. The motherboard doesn't support LBA and that means the INT 13h routines are limited to 504MB with the current CHS geometry. I'll try to make it more clear. The INT 13h routines are a standard and easy to use interface for accessing hard-drives by applications, but they have a poor interface design that allows passing just 10 bits for the cylinder number. That means you can only address 1024 cylinders with the INT 13h. Your harddrive has 6256 cylinders and the AMI setup can do calculations with the number and returns the correct capacity, but hard to guess whether it also accesses the sectors directly or with INT 13h routines which are limited. You can do a simple calculation of the addressing limit:

1024/6256 * 3079 = 503.98 MB

(07-15-2014 05:36 AM)mat619 Wrote:  Regarding the new alpha, no need to hurry - it's done when it's done Smile

I don't feel comfortable when the installer fails.
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07-16-2014, 01:06 AM
Post: #9
RE: issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
0.1 alpha5 CD released .... please, test.
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07-17-2014, 04:02 PM
Post: #10
RE: issues with 0.1a4 floppy+CD install on 386 system
(07-16-2014 01:06 AM)tavvva Wrote:  0.1 alpha5 CD released .... please, test.

Very nice, thanks! Smile
Will do as soon as I find the time for it (currently rarely get to spend time on my old computers, sadly).
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