Posted: Jun 26, 2004 by roberts

Having read the many posts of how to install DSL with no cdrom using a hugh stack floppies,
I wanted to create a 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 older pcmcia network cards.

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

I have written a tiny 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 disk.
With your pcmcia card inserted try booting TOMSRTBT and see if network card is seen.

After booting up TOMSRTBT be sure to REMOVE the TOMSRTBT 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.

If you made it here you are ready to go!
Next grab the script like this:


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

Format them by using:

mke2fs /dev/hda1
mke2fs /dev/hda2

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.

Finally run the like this:


Follow the prompts.

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

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 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 vag=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.