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Re: SEUL: Installation steps

Greg Bell wrote:
> After giving some thought to what actually needs to be done when
> installing Linux on an IBM (sorry don't have a MAC) I have come up with
> the following steps to do an installation.

Sorry, but I had to throw this in: 'MAC' isn't really a good
abbreviation for Macintosh, but 'Mac' is. 'Mac' doesn't stand for
anything, it's just an abbreviation. 'MAC', on the other hand, stands
for the hardware address of an ethernet card.

> 1) Scan BIOS area for data needed during the install (ie memory size,
> math coprocessor, type of video, # of serial ports, printer, etc.)

Video, serial ports, and printer would be difficult to get from BIOS, as
far as I know. Probing the video card can yield some information, but
the day a video card is released after the release of any particular
SEUL distribution, the distribution is befuddled. In these cases, one
could default to SVGA, but it would still be problematic. The best way
would be to develop a sort of plug-in architecture that allowed a
default VGA plug-in to be used initially; later, the appropriate plug-in
(when developed) could be inserted. This way, the user need not wait for
a whole new release (a la XFree86) but instead could simply plug in the
appropriate "stuff". This would be nice because it would allow us to
bundle a lot of video-type info at once: acceleration options, etc, etc.
Monitor timings could be another plug-in.

Serial ports are not foolproof from the BIOS. I added a PCI serial
expander and the BIOS knew nothing about it. The best thing to do would
be to run setserial on each COM port individually and find out what's

Printers need to be handled at a much higher level.

Other things that *could* be addressed by BIOS: Hard disk, floppy,

> 2) A minimule linux should be loaded onto a ram disk (the kernel should
> have modules enabled).//Example Slackware install//

This may be a no-brainer, but we should be sure to compile the default
kernel for 386 processors. My AMD machines have fits over
Pentium-targeted kernels, and the 386 kernels don't give much of a
performance disadvantage.

> 3)Fdisk - setup a linux partition (if enough memory is available skip
> installing a swap disk?)

Fdisk needs replacing. One good reason is the fact that changing a DOS
partition without separately running DOS FDISK can be extremely

> 4)Add needed drivers

How does SEUL handle drivers? Suppose the user wants to use an
experimental driver, that we have not prepackaged. How would they go
about doing this?

One thought is that we might have a generic "kernel compiler" interface
program. It would let the user configure a kernel safely, then compile
it with some sort of GUI front-end and install it (a la make zlilo).

Another idea might be to have a totally generic compiler interface.
Instead of Makefiles/Imakefiles/autoconf, we could have a simple API
that allows developers to specify simplistic compile-time options. Many
portability problems come from not knowing the specific configuration of
a particular box; with SEUL, we could (in a limited sense) control that,
and at least keep track of it. This would be a rather ambitious
undertaking, but it's worth looking into. Compiling programs is a Linux
way of life; can we make that more understandable to end users?

> 5)install kernel & modules (install lilo???)

My vote on LILO is simply to make it standard. Until a better boot
loader comes along, I say simplify matters and just use LILO. I've never
done it any other way; can someone point out the potential pitfalls?

> 6) make a boot disk
> 7) personnelize linux (i.e. fonts, colors, etc., etc.)

How much of this might we do? Are we talking about some sort of
interface to setterm, stty, xterm, etc.? Or just X Windows stuff? And if
just X Windows, how can we do this before we know a) The video
specifics, and b) The window manager in use?

> 8) all done reboot to linux
> any thoughts about this???

Michael J. Peck
Hewlett-Packard, Convex Division
Opinions expressed above are not necessarily those of my employer.
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