[Rule] GNU/Linux Installation on Constrained Systems - proposed website book.

C David Rigby c.david.rigby at gmail.com
Sat Aug 25 19:13:44 EEST 2007

Hello all,

Further thought on Richard's installation of Debian on his Vaio laptop
brought the realization that it was a special case of "Installation on a
Constrained System - PC with bootable floppy and network access". Indeed,
the method I suggested to him (and which worked well enough, happily) was
sort of overkill. Three floppies from the Debian project (boot.img, root.imgand
net-drivers-1.img OR net-drivers-2.img) would have done the job just as
effectively as tomsrtbt with download of net installer kernel and initial
root disk, then booting from a GRUB boot disk. The technique was at the
front of my mind because my third floppy disk, net-drivers, had just died.
So, I had to figure out something that would work with just two floppies.
It's August vacation here, and all the local computer shops are closed.

It seems to me that this particular case is an example of our general case -
installing an actively-maintained distro on a system that is
resource-constrained to the extent that a standard boot-from-CD/DVD scenario
is impossible.

I'm about to launch into Drupal-speak, so some background first. If you are
familiar with Drupal or if you don't care, you can skip the next paragraph.

The RULE project website is based on Drupal. Drupal is a content management
system written in PHP/MySQL that is used to build websites. Drupal organizes
content into "nodes". A simplified but workable definition is that a node is
a "chunk" of information for display on the website. The most basic Drupal
node one usually works with is the "story". It is a page of the website.
However, it is also possible to build other structures with Drupal, and one
of the most useful is a "book". As you can probably guess, a book is
composed of multiple stories, and provides a structure in which each stories
(pages) can be organized. Using correct terminology, when talking about
books we start referring to "book pages" instead of stories, but the
differences are minor. A story is a single page that stands alone. A book
page exists as part of a larger book of multiple pages.

I am going to proceed directly to write a story about the technique behind
Richard's installation. However, I propose to the group that a better
structure for future expansion would be a book:

Book: GNU/Linux Installation on Constrained Systems (I'm not wedded to the
title - we can certainly change it.)

   - Each book page will present a technique for a GNU/Linux installation
   on a particular type of constrained system. For example: floppy disk/net
   installation of Debian for a system with no CDROM drive. Anyone can write a
   book page. Indeed, groups of authors can write one together.
   - Comments on the that page can be, well, comments.
   - However, comments could also be installation reports. That is, each
   comment could be a report on an attempt, successful or not, to install a
   GNU/Linux distro on that type of constrained system.

The point being to organize the information so that a year from now, after
we have attracted lots of input, it will be possible to quickly "drill down"
to a specific technique for a given hardware configuration.

Your comments and thoughts are appreciated as always.

C David Rigby
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