This is the basics for getting Linux on the Libretto. Much is done from memory, so if you're using this as a guide please be advised what I wrote here could be faulty or just plain wrong.

The itty-bitty Liberetto

Why put linux on a laptop?
There are a lot of reasons, the biggest being I thought it would be pretty cool. In July I travelled to DEFCON 7, a computer security convention. Unix security is one of my interests and professional duties, so I'm familiar with quite a few techniques and software that's involved. The really powerful software runs on Linux, not windows. A lot of the people at DEFCON had an amazing amount of security info and software on their laptops, I figured I'd give it a go.

Where do you start?

I started by looking for an old laptop for cheap, or laying around the company. I first tried with BSD on the Apple Powerbook 170, an old B&W machine we had laying around. No go, no video drivers. Second I tried an old Winbook, but it had a history of hardware problems. Lastly I considered my Libretto. I only use it to check mail when I'm travelling, so why the hell not? I checked the specs... 166mhz, 2gb hard drive, floppy and CD. I went for it.

Of course, Win95 came pre-installed on the 100ct. We're talking the OLD version of Win95, from the actual year 1995. It's crap. I wanted to keep Windows but upgrade to Win98, and also run Linux, so I went for a dual-boot configuration. Second, you cannot boot Linux on the Libretto from floppy because it's a PCMCIA floppy and is controlled via the BIOS. If you boot linux off a floppy you will quickly discover it can't find the disk while trying to load the kernel. The options for install are therefore A) network, or B) remove the drive from the laptop and mount it on another machine. That would require a special IDE ribbon for the 2.5" drive, with a standard IDE connection for the other machine. It would be easy to get one, but I'm lazy and opted not to. Since I have a PCMCIA cdrom drive, which you should definintely go get if you own a Libretto, I did it like this...

How I did it.
The first thing I did was make a Win98 boot floppy, boot it on the libretto, then run FDISK and format. Say goodbye to Win95. With FDISK I partitioned the drive exactly in half, 1gb for linux, 1gb for win98. Be sure you format with FAT16, not FAT32. This is important. Your drive should now have two partitions, hda1 and hda2. Addendum. You can format with FAT32 just fine, just be sure you install or compile your Linux machine with VFAT support. Newer versions of RedHat (5.2 and above) do this by default.

Next, I put the drivers for the PCMCIA cdrom drive onto the floppy and rebooted again. If I'd been thinking I would have done that first, as when I rebooted without any CDROM drivers I had a minor panic when no CD was found. Luckily I have a desktop computer too, and the Addonics web site has loads of good drivers. The drive is actually detected without special drivers by Linux, albeit as a hard drive. Incidentally this whole operation is much easier if you have a second net-ready PC to help you download documents and search deja.com for help. Anyway onward ho.

Installing Win98 on the first partition is as you would expect. There were no problems at all. After that, be sure to start Windows and install your Toshiba tools. You kept that CD your Libretto came with right? Most of it is not necessary, but several essentail items are in there like APM and BIOS access software, in case you want to use the boot password, as I do.

Install Linux
I used Redhat 6.0. This was my first time with 6, although I've done numerous kernel upgrades from 2.1.x to the 2.2 family. On your fresh install of Win98, make yourself a directory at root level, calling it whatever. I called it redhat. Copy the contents of your Redhat CD, or download the contents or whatever, into that directory. Make sure you get it all. Next, cd into your /redhat directory and go to the dosutils directory, and run loadlin.exe to start the image from your hard drive, pointing to autoboot/vmlinuz, and the initrd.img. For instance, Select Start -> Shutdown -> Restart in MSDOS mode -> then at your DOS command line cd to C:\redhat, then:

loadlin autoboot\vmlinuz initrd=autoboot\initrd.img

Voila, the friendly Linux install interface shows up. Follow the steps for an install, but use "DISK INSTALL" rather than CD. Linux will ask you where it can find the install data it needs. Point it to the drive partition containing your Win98 install, and name the subdirectory where it can find your data, as per my case it would be the hda1 partition under /redhat.

Next, follow the prompt steps installing Linux. If you have not installed Linux before there are hundreds of other sites that can help you more than mine can. I used disk druid to partition the drive as so:

/dev/hda5 - root partition with 750mb available.
/dev/hda6 - /var partition with 235mb.
/dev/hda7 - swap space, 32mb.
/dev/hda1 - msdos partition (windows 98) with 1gb.

Leave hda1 alone unless you want to destroy your win98 install, and also the data you're trying to install from at this very moment.

Now that I think about it I think I'd put less space in /var, maybe 130mb for logs. Incidentally, I make the /var partition separate so if the logs fill up the whole system won't crash.

Where to put the bootloader.
Redhat will ask you on which partition to place the bootloader. Put it on hda1. LILO will end up with two options, one to boot Windows and one to boot Linux. This way you can use LILO to load windows without buying a 3rd party tool like Partition Magic or whatever. Set whichever you like as your default.

Next page...
Fixing your kernel.

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