Floppy Only Install with Netcard (Poormans Install)

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  • (Originally written by Robert Shingledecker. He posted it on 2004-06-26)
  • (Edited by others. View the history for changes.)

Dual-Booting Windows 9x & DSL

Having read the many posts of how to install DSL with no cdrom using a huge stack floppies, I wanted to create a script using only one floppy.

I wanted to make a simple way to install DSL on older laptops that have NO CDROM.

I started by looking for a single floppy Linux distro with good pcmcia network support.

I have found that TOMSRTBT is very good. It works with several old pcmcia network cards. However, with that distro which need 1.72 MB support on floppy. Not all old floppy drives support that format. So I've also used BGRescue from http://www.giannone.eu/rescue/current/ which fit on standard floppy and support various PCMCIA card

The systems that I have used for testing have:

32MB memory

1.44 floppy drive

128MB HD

800x600 screen

Linksys PCMCIA network card model PCMLM56

Also works with Xircom RealPort2 Model R2E-100

pentium 166

16 MB memory

1.44 floppy

2 Go HD


Linksys PCMCIA

pentium 233

80 MB memory

1.44 floppy

2Go HD


Linksys PCMCIA

I have written a tiny frugal_lite.sh. It is written in ASH shell.

It provides the traditional "poorman's" install and boot floppy creation via the net.

First you must download and create TOMSRTBT or BGRescue disk or any boot disk with mini linux. With your pcmcia card inserted try booting your mini linux and see if network card is seen.

After booting up be sure to REMOVE the linux mini distribution disk.

Look at the output of the ifconfig command. If you see your IP then you are ready to go. If you see then you must manually input your IP address. Like the following two lines:

        ifconfig eth0 netmask
        route add default gw

Then add your nameserver like this:

        echo "nameserver xx.xx.xx.xx" >> /etc/resolv.conf

Next test your network setup by pinging an internet site.

Other possibility is to launch udhcpcd then dhclient to automatically assign you an ip.


If you made it here you are ready to go!

Next grab the frugal_lite.sh script like this:

        wget http://distro.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/damnsmall/current/frugal_lite.sh

If the above does not work while using BG-RESCUE, try downloading the file to a disk; save the file in the root (main) directory. Afterwards, place the disk in the floppy drive (while inside the BG-RESCUE OS) and do the following:

mkdir /home

mount /dev/fd0 /floppy

  • Ignore any possible gibberish

cp -r /floppy/* /home

mv /home/*.sh /home/frugal_lite.sh

umount /floppy

  • Ignore any possible gibberish

cd /home

Now using fdisk create two linux partitions each large enough to hold DSL. I used 64MB to be safe. Could be smaller.


Edit the file you just downloaded so that the fourth line reads (case sensitive! "linux" not "Linux"):


Make the fifth line read:


Next place a GOOD (no bad sectors) floppy into the floppy drive.

Note: The hard drive partitons are NOT mounted. The floppy is NOT mounted.

  • If you are using BG-RESCUE Linux, please visit the discussion page at this point in time.

Finally run the frugal_lite.sh like this:

        ash frugal_lite.sh

Follow the prompts.

Upon completion the system will reboot off the DSL boot floppy and start loading DSL.

Note: If the script fails to fetch the iso image with the error "bad header line: 500 GET not understood", change the PROTOCOL in the script back to "ftp" and run the script again.

Be sure to boot with the following:

        boot: dsl vga=normal

Note: After you get your system running from boot floppy (poorman's) then you can install again into the other partition using the standard frugal_instal.sh giving you much more control of your system. Use the (L)ive CD install option as the poorman's is a virtual liveCD.

Or if the other partiton is large enough then do a regular dsl-hdinstall.

If you do this re-install into the other partition either frugal or full install then you can get rid of the poorman's by using fdisk to change it totype 82 (swap) and then format it for swap by using the mkswap /dev/hdaX

Anyway, I hope that you find this script useful. It should provide the most flexible way to enjoy the latest version of DSL.

Note2: On my systems I had to remove the else block from the frugal script and remove the =/dev/... after the -o inside the same script. And before installing to hard drive, I needed to delete the tmp file (which is a link to /ramdisk/tmp), create swap, activate it and then create the tmp directory by hand.

Follow-up Question: Will it do a standard hard drive install ?


It grabs the iso from net and temporarily stores it in a partition. It then moves the KNOPPIX folder to the other partition and creates the boot floppy, then iso is removed. System then reboots from boot floppy. Now you are running a poorman's. From there you have the following choices...

1. You are done! You have a poormans/boot floppy all from the net!

2. You boot up your poorman's DSL and run frugal_instal.sh into the now other empty partition. Then you don't need the boot floppy and you have a much more custom system.

3. If the other partition is large enough, then you can: Boot up from floppy and then do a full dsl-hdinstall into the empty partition.

The choice is your any of the three types. Depending on your hardware and/or choice.

For older systems it is best to boot using:

        boot: dsl vga=normal

and for installing using options 2 or 3 it is best to use:

        boot: dsl 2 vga=normal

Also when you have completed options 2 or 3 you can then change the poorman's partition into a swap partition. From the new DSL system, run cfdisk and change the proper partition from 83 ot 82. Then run mkswap on that partition. Reboot and you are all set.

I hope this helps get DSL on many older computers.

  • Note:seems don't work with scsi hard drives