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Inspiron 510m: Booting into USB HDD

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  • Peter Martinez
    A week or so ago I posted a query here asking if anyone knew whether the BIOS of the Inspiron 510m would recognise (and boot into) an external HDD plugged into
    Message 1 of 14 , Apr 1 11:52 AM
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      A week or so ago I posted a query here asking if anyone knew whether the
      BIOS of the Inspiron 510m would recognise (and boot into) an external HDD
      plugged into the USB port.

      No-one could give me a definitive answer, but I decided to buy one of these
      anyway. I bought a LaCie 40GB device, which cost me £70.00 here in the UK by
      mail order. It's a beautifully made little unit, about 130mm by 75mm by 20mm
      and is powered from the USB port.

      I can now report that it IS recognised by the 510m BIOS. I have booted into
      a floppy-based partition utility program which has no operating system and
      is old enough that it cannot possibly know about USB (so it can't be
      accessing the new HDD via it's own drivers). That enabled me to verify that
      the Inspiron BIOS recognises the USB HDD and allocates it drive number 129.
      (drive 1, or hdb). The drive comes ready-formatted as a single FAT32
      partition and Windows XP instantly named it D: I have deleted that and
      created a small FAT16 which I can share between DOS, XP and LINUX, and left
      the rest blank ready for LINUX.

      I will wait till tomorrow before starting to install LINUX, but this looks
      like it's going to be a very easy way to experiment with LINUX while keeping
      the Windows XP installation completely untouched. Of course I will need to
      install a dual-boot switch but there seem to be plenty of these around, from
      LiLo to Windows XP itself.

      Peter M
    • Anirban Bhattacharyya
      Hi Peter, thanks a lot for the info. I have an Inspiron 8200 and was thinking of doing the same with WD 80GB USB HD. But in my BIOS there is no option to boot
      Message 2 of 14 , Apr 1 2:49 PM
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        Hi Peter,
          thanks a lot for the info. I have an Inspiron 8200 and was thinking of doing the same with WD 80GB USB HD. But in my BIOS there is no option to boot from external HD. Can you tell me what are the options in your BIOS?
         
        Regards
        Anirban

        Peter Martinez <Peter.Martinez@...> wrote:
        A week or so ago I posted a query here asking if anyone knew whether the
        BIOS of the Inspiron 510m would recognise (and boot into) an external HDD
        plugged into the USB port.

        No-one could give me a definitive answer, but I decided to buy one of these
        anyway. I bought a LaCie 40GB device, which cost me �70.00 here in the UK by
        mail order. It's a beautifully made little unit, about 130mm by 75mm by 20mm
        and is powered from the USB port.

        I can now report that it IS recognised by the 510m BIOS. I have booted into
        a floppy-based partition utility program which has no operating system and
        is old enough that it cannot possibly know about USB (so it can't be
        accessing the new HDD via it's own drivers). That enabled me to verify that
        the Inspiron BIOS recognises the USB HDD and allocates it drive number 129.
        (drive 1, or hdb). The drive comes ready-formatted as a single FAT32
        partition and Windows XP instantly named it D:  I have deleted that and
        created a small FAT16 which I can share between DOS, XP and LINUX, and left
        the rest blank ready for LINUX.

        I will wait till tomorrow before starting to install LINUX, but this looks
        like it's going to be a very easy way to experiment with LINUX while keeping
        the Windows XP installation completely untouched. Of course I will need to
        install a dual-boot switch but there seem to be plenty of these around, from
        LiLo to Windows XP itself.

        Peter M



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      • ken
        ... Set the BIOS to boot from the USB. hth, ken -- A lot of us are working harder than we want, at things we don t like to do. Why? ...In order to afford the
        Message 3 of 14 , Apr 1 8:50 PM
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          Anirban Bhattacharyya wrote:

          > Hi Peter,
          > thanks a lot for the info. I have an Inspiron 8200 and was thinking
          > of doing the same with WD 80GB USB HD. But in my BIOS there is no
          > option to boot from external HD. Can you tell me what are the options
          > in your BIOS?
          >
          > Regards
          > Anirban
          >
          > [....]


          Set the BIOS to boot from the USB.


          hth,
          ken

          --
          A lot of us are working harder than we want, at things we don't like to
          do. Why? ...In order to afford the sort of existence we don't care to live.
          -- Bradford Angier
        • Peter Martinez
          Hello Anirban: On my Inspiron 510m, by pressing F12 in the boot cycle (I have to be quick!), there is a menu which shows that it s possible to boot from the
          Message 4 of 14 , Apr 1 10:35 PM
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            Hello Anirban:
             
            On my Inspiron 510m, by pressing F12 in the boot cycle (I have to be quick!), there is a menu which shows that it's possible to boot from the main hard-drive, a floppy, a CD, or from the PCMCIA interface. You can set the sequence to search for bootable drives, or choose which one to boot now. I knew it would boot from a floppy plugged into the USB, but I did not know, until I tried it, that it would boot from a USB hard-drive. (maybe it would have behaved like it was a 40GB floppy-disk!).  I suggest you look to see if there's a boot menu in your machine, or ask some of the other guys here.
             
            Peter
             
          • Gabriel
            I don t think the I8200 has an option to boot from USB (at least mine with bios A11 doesn t!). I found this URL which may be of interest to you:
            Message 5 of 14 , Apr 2 3:57 AM
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              I don't think the I8200 has an option to boot from USB (at least mine with bios A11 doesn't!).

              I found this URL which may be of interest to you:

              http://mandrakeusers.org/index.php?showtopic=23958

              Mind you your USB is probably 1.1 - not top speed at all, my external hard drive is on the firewire, a night and day difference.

              Cheers,
              Gabriel.


              On Saturday 02 April 2005 00.49, Anirban Bhattacharyya wrote:
              > Hi Peter,
              > thanks a lot for the info. I have an Inspiron 8200 and was thinking of doing the same with WD 80GB USB HD. But in my BIOS there is no option to boot from external HD. Can you tell me what are the options in your BIOS?
              >
              > Regards
              > Anirban
              >
              > Peter Martinez <Peter.Martinez@...> wrote:
              > A week or so ago I posted a query here asking if anyone knew whether the
              > BIOS of the Inspiron 510m would recognise (and boot into) an external HDD
              > plugged into the USB port.
              >
              > No-one could give me a definitive answer, but I decided to buy one of these
              > anyway. I bought a LaCie 40GB device, which cost me £70.00 here in the UK by
              > mail order. It's a beautifully made little unit, about 130mm by 75mm by 20mm
              > and is powered from the USB port.
              >
              > I can now report that it IS recognised by the 510m BIOS. I have booted into
              > a floppy-based partition utility program which has no operating system and
              > is old enough that it cannot possibly know about USB (so it can't be
              > accessing the new HDD via it's own drivers). That enabled me to verify that
              > the Inspiron BIOS recognises the USB HDD and allocates it drive number 129.
              > (drive 1, or hdb). The drive comes ready-formatted as a single FAT32
              > partition and Windows XP instantly named it D: I have deleted that and
              > created a small FAT16 which I can share between DOS, XP and LINUX, and left
              > the rest blank ready for LINUX.
              >
              > I will wait till tomorrow before starting to install LINUX, but this looks
              > like it's going to be a very easy way to experiment with LINUX while keeping
              > the Windows XP installation completely untouched. Of course I will need to
              > install a dual-boot switch but there seem to be plenty of these around, from
              > LiLo to Windows XP itself.
              >
              > Peter M
              >
              >
              >
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            • naJ
              From experience so far, I m having trouble installing FC3 on such a setup: I used to have a thinkpad A31p in which i could fit two drives. One of these had my
              Message 6 of 14 , Apr 4 4:10 AM
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                From experience so far, I'm having trouble installing FC3 on such a setup:
                I used to have a thinkpad A31p in which i could fit two drives. One of
                these had my linux partitions, the other with win2k. Since then, I've
                upgraded to a i9100 +Xp, ripped out the 'linuxed' drive from the
                thinkpad..put it into an external USB2/Firewire enclosure (very pretty
                white box in a white leather pouch - i get a lot of people picking it
                up, shaking it & asking when I got the iPod :/ ) which works fine in
                Xp.
                So when I finally found time to install FC3, it doesn't see the drive
                at all - only hda is visible :(
                Knoppix sees it ok though.
                Maybe it's just the FC3 installation procedure that doesn't like it.


                On Apr 2, 2005 12:57 PM, Gabriel <ggali_66@...> wrote:
                >
                > I don't think the I8200 has an option to boot from USB (at least mine with
                > bios A11 doesn't!).
                >
                > I found this URL which may be of interest to you:
                >
                > http://mandrakeusers.org/index.php?showtopic=23958
                >
                > Mind you your USB is probably 1.1 - not top speed at all, my external hard
                > drive is on the firewire, a night and day difference.
                >
                > Cheers,
                > Gabriel.
                >
                >
                >
                > On Saturday 02 April 2005 00.49, Anirban Bhattacharyya wrote:
                > > Hi Peter,
                > > thanks a lot for the info. I have an Inspiron 8200 and was thinking of
                > doing the same with WD 80GB USB HD. But in my BIOS there is no option to
                > boot from external HD. Can you tell me what are the options in your BIOS?
                > >
                > > Regards
                > > Anirban
                > >
                > > Peter Martinez <Peter.Martinez@...> wrote:
                > > A week or so ago I posted a query here asking if anyone knew whether the
                > > BIOS of the Inspiron 510m would recognise (and boot into) an external HDD
                > > plugged into the USB port.
                > >
                > > No-one could give me a definitive answer, but I decided to buy one of
                > these
                > > anyway. I bought a LaCie 40GB device, which cost me £70.00 here in the UK
                > by
                > > mail order. It's a beautifully made little unit, about 130mm by 75mm by
                > 20mm
                > > and is powered from the USB port.
                > >
                > > I can now report that it IS recognised by the 510m BIOS. I have booted
                > into
                > > a floppy-based partition utility program which has no operating system
                > and
                > > is old enough that it cannot possibly know about USB (so it can't be
                > > accessing the new HDD via it's own drivers). That enabled me to verify
                > that
                > > the Inspiron BIOS recognises the USB HDD and allocates it drive number
                > 129.
                > > (drive 1, or hdb). The drive comes ready-formatted as a single FAT32
                > > partition and Windows XP instantly named it D: I have deleted that and
                > > created a small FAT16 which I can share between DOS, XP and LINUX, and
                > left
                > > the rest blank ready for LINUX.
                > >
                > > I will wait till tomorrow before starting to install LINUX, but this
                > looks
                > > like it's going to be a very easy way to experiment with LINUX while
                > keeping
                > > the Windows XP installation completely untouched. Of course I will need
                > to
                > > install a dual-boot switch but there seem to be plenty of these around,
                > from
                > > LiLo to Windows XP itself.
                > >
                > > Peter M
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > --------------------------------------------------------------
                > > Please post your X config files in the group links or database
                > > To unsubscribe, email:
                > linux-dell-laptops-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                > > FAQ: http://www.whacked.net/ldl/faq
                > >
                > >
                > >
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                > >
                > > To visit your group on the web, go to:
                > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-dell-laptops/
                > >
                > > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                > > linux-dell-laptops-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                > >
                > > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
                > >
                > >
                > >
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                >
                >
                >
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              • Peter Martinez
                I still can t get my Inspiron 510m to boot correctly from the USB drive, but I am beginning to understand why not. Remember I am a real beginner in LINUX. The
                Message 7 of 14 , Apr 4 4:39 AM
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                  I still can't get my Inspiron 510m to boot correctly from the USB drive, but I am beginning to understand why not. Remember I am a real beginner in LINUX.  The only way I can get in there to look around is via the rescue mode on the installation CD, which searches for my installation and does find it. 
                   
                  After several attempts, I realised that sometimes the USB drive was sometimes identified as /dev/sda, and sometimes as /dev/sdb, so I suspected that either the BIOS, or anaconda, or grub (or any combination of all of these) was getting confused about the drive numbering. I found that it seemed to make a difference which of the two USB ports had the USB HDD in it and which had the floppy drive. I have manually editted /boot/grub/grub.conf and /boot/grub/device.map to match the precise way I have the drives plugged into the USB ports, and can now get grub to start (but only from the GAG booter), but the resultant boot operation dead-ends with a kernel panic when it cannot find essential files. It seems that grub and kernel don't agree about which drive is which. I know it's an old kernel, but it does claim to have USB support.
                   
                  Anyone else got any ideas?
                   
                  Peter
                   
                • Haedn Thorn
                  It is likely that your kernel is loading USB as a module. I m fairly certain you must have everything required to access your root partition compiled into the
                  Message 8 of 14 , Apr 4 5:01 AM
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                    It is likely that your kernel is loading USB as a
                    module. I'm fairly certain you must have everything
                    required to access your root partition compiled into
                    the kernel. ... You'll need to compile a new kernel
                    with USB and SCSI built in. The drives having varying
                    names is entirely dependent on the order they are
                    detected, so yes, having the HDD and FDD swapped in
                    your ports will muck that up. Keep in mind that once
                    the kernel loads, Linux uses almost NO data from your
                    BIOS: the 'boot from USB' option only goes as afar as
                    loading the MBR from your USB device and transfering
                    control. If your kernel doesn't have USB and SCSI
                    built in, it won't be able to find the USB and SCSI
                    modules, since they are on a USB device.

                    --- Peter Martinez <Peter.Martinez@...>
                    wrote:
                    > I still can't get my Inspiron 510m to boot correctly
                    > from the USB drive, but I am beginning to understand
                    > why not. Remember I am a real beginner in LINUX.
                    > The only way I can get in there to look around is
                    > via the rescue mode on the installation CD, which
                    > searches for my installation and does find it.
                    >
                    > After several attempts, I realised that sometimes
                    > the USB drive was sometimes identified as /dev/sda,
                    > and sometimes as /dev/sdb, so I suspected that
                    > either the BIOS, or anaconda, or grub (or any
                    > combination of all of these) was getting confused
                    > about the drive numbering. I found that it seemed to
                    > make a difference which of the two USB ports had the
                    > USB HDD in it and which had the floppy drive. I have
                    > manually editted /boot/grub/grub.conf and
                    > /boot/grub/device.map to match the precise way I
                    > have the drives plugged into the USB ports, and can
                    > now get grub to start (but only from the GAG
                    > booter), but the resultant boot operation dead-ends
                    > with a kernel panic when it cannot find essential
                    > files. It seems that grub and kernel don't agree
                    > about which drive is which. I know it's an old
                    > kernel, but it does claim to have USB support.
                    >
                    > Anyone else got any ideas?
                    >
                    > Peter
                    >
                  • Peter Martinez
                    Haedn: I guess I don t yet understand how LINUX starts up, but if I start up from the Rescue mode in the installation CD, and let it find my installed image on
                    Message 9 of 14 , Apr 4 5:49 AM
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                      Haedn:
                       
                      I guess I don't yet understand how LINUX starts up, but if I start up from the Rescue mode in the installation CD, and let it find my installed image on the USB drive (whether it finds it on dev/sda3 or dev/sdb3) I can access all parts of the newly-installed filing system on the USB drive. I know it's doing this correctly because I can even mount and access dev/sda1 (or dev/sdb1) which is a vfat with some test files I put there from Windows.  I would have assumed that the kernel built-in to the installation CD (which had no trouble installing to the new drive) was the same kernel that this same installation CD had installed into the new drive. If the installation kernel was somehow not the same as the installed kernel and didn't understand USB, would I not have seen the boot-up process fail with something like "unrecognised device type" rather than the "can't find the init file" which I do get?  I am not questioning what you say, just frustrated that I cannot understand.
                       
                      Maybe I need more detailed instruction on Linux itself.
                       
                      Peter
                       
                    • Haedn Thorn
                      ... When you boot from the CD, you are using the ide-cd and iso9660 drivers, with those, you can access the usb and scsi modules which are on the CD. Then you
                      Message 10 of 14 , Apr 4 6:17 AM
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                        --- Peter Martinez <Peter.Martinez@...>
                        wrote:
                        > Haedn:
                        >
                        > I guess I don't yet understand how LINUX starts up,
                        > but if I start up from the Rescue mode in the
                        > installation CD, and let it find my installed image
                        > on the USB drive (whether it finds it on dev/sda3 or
                        > dev/sdb3) I can access all parts of the
                        > newly-installed filing system on the USB drive. I
                        > know it's doing this correctly because I can even
                        > mount and access dev/sda1 (or dev/sdb1) which is a
                        > vfat with some test files I put there from Windows.
                        > I would have assumed that the kernel built-in to the
                        > installation CD (which had no trouble installing to
                        > the new drive) was the same kernel that this same
                        > installation CD had installed into the new drive. If
                        > the installation kernel was somehow not the same as
                        > the installed kernel and didn't understand USB,
                        > would I not have seen the boot-up process fail with
                        > something like "unrecognised device type" rather
                        > than the "can't find the init file" which I do get?
                        > I am not questioning what you say, just frustrated
                        > that I cannot understand.
                        >
                        > Maybe I need more detailed instruction on Linux
                        > itself.

                        When you boot from the CD, you are using the ide-cd
                        and iso9660 drivers, with those, you can access the
                        usb and scsi modules which are on the CD. Then you
                        have access to the usb devices. I suppose it's a
                        little tricky to understand at first, but after it
                        clicks, it makes perfect sense. ... You can't load
                        modules you don't have access to. If the kernel can't
                        find modules it needs to access the root file system,
                        you get "kernel panic" and it stops.
                      • Alwin Gupta
                        Hi Peter, I think Haedn is right. You need to compile the kernel with USB and SCSI support built in. Although I ve not played with USB thing but could suggest
                        Message 11 of 14 , Apr 4 6:32 AM
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                          Hi Peter,

                          I think Haedn is right. You need to compile the kernel
                          with USB and SCSI support built in. Although I've not
                          played with USB thing but could suggest you the steps:

                          1) Boot with the rescue CD. (It will mount the USB
                          linux on to some directory say /mnt/sysimage).

                          2) Change the root to your installation directory by:
                          chroot /mnt/sysimage

                          3) go to the linux source directory and configure the
                          kernel, select all the USB + SCSI stuff you require to
                          be built in to the kernel (DO NOT choose them as
                          module) by saying:
                          make menuconfig

                          4) install the kernel.
                          make install

                          5) install modules.
                          make modules_install

                          6) exit and reboot your machine.

                          I think this should help you.

                          Best of luck!
                          -Alwin

                          --- Haedn Thorn <lordhaedn@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > --- Peter Martinez <Peter.Martinez@...>
                          > wrote:
                          > > Haedn:
                          > >
                          > > I guess I don't yet understand how LINUX starts
                          > up,
                          > > but if I start up from the Rescue mode in the
                          > > installation CD, and let it find my installed
                          > image
                          > > on the USB drive (whether it finds it on dev/sda3
                          > or
                          > > dev/sdb3) I can access all parts of the
                          > > newly-installed filing system on the USB drive. I
                          > > know it's doing this correctly because I can even
                          > > mount and access dev/sda1 (or dev/sdb1) which is a
                          > > vfat with some test files I put there from
                          > Windows.
                          > > I would have assumed that the kernel built-in to
                          > the
                          > > installation CD (which had no trouble installing
                          > to
                          > > the new drive) was the same kernel that this same
                          > > installation CD had installed into the new drive.
                          > If
                          > > the installation kernel was somehow not the same
                          > as
                          > > the installed kernel and didn't understand USB,
                          > > would I not have seen the boot-up process fail
                          > with
                          > > something like "unrecognised device type" rather
                          > > than the "can't find the init file" which I do
                          > get?
                          > > I am not questioning what you say, just frustrated
                          > > that I cannot understand.
                          > >
                          > > Maybe I need more detailed instruction on Linux
                          > > itself.
                          >
                          > When you boot from the CD, you are using the ide-cd
                          > and iso9660 drivers, with those, you can access the
                          > usb and scsi modules which are on the CD. Then you
                          > have access to the usb devices. I suppose it's a
                          > little tricky to understand at first, but after it
                          > clicks, it makes perfect sense. ... You can't load
                          > modules you don't have access to. If the kernel
                          > can't
                          > find modules it needs to access the root file
                          > system,
                          > you get "kernel panic" and it stops.
                          >



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                        • Peter Martinez
                          Thanks Haedn and Alwin for your patience. I think I can begin to understand it now. I remember a similar problem with my first computer in the 70 s when I
                          Message 12 of 14 , Apr 4 8:18 AM
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                            Thanks Haedn and Alwin for your patience. I think I can begin to understand it now. I remember a similar problem with my first computer in the 70's when I changed from magnetic tape storage to EPROM for the bootstrap/BIOS code (this was when EPROMs first appeared) and I had to be very careful about the sequence of changes so that I did not lock myself out of the machine.
                             
                            Alwin: I am sure you are right that I need to rebuild the kernel, but I am so new to Linux that I cannot understand your instructions. The rescue mode does indeed find the new installation and mount it at /mnt/sysimage and I can chroot to there, but I am lost after that. I see nothing that looks like the 'linux source directory' that you mention, and I cannot understand the documentation about the 'make' process, and I would not know how to 'select all the USB and SCSI stuff'. Is there a way to make the rescue kernel tell me which modules it has loaded after it was booted, so that I can know what I need to build into a new kernel?
                             
                            Would you be willing to contact me off the reflector and guide me through it?  You can find my email address from the yahoogroups page.
                             
                            Peter
                             
                          • Alwin Gupta
                            Hi Peter, As I have already told u that I am not too familier with the USB stuff, but have a sufficient idea of building custom kernel (doing it since 1999). I
                            Message 13 of 14 , Apr 4 8:41 AM
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                              Hi Peter,

                              As I have already told u that I am not too familier
                              with the USB stuff, but have a sufficient idea of
                              building custom kernel (doing it since 1999).

                              I would be gr8 for me if I help you getting ur system
                              up.

                              My yahoo ID is alwingupta@..., I think it would
                              be good to log on to yahoo messenger so that we can
                              quickly try to solve ur problem quickly. Otherwise
                              please mail me ur email yahoo ID or should I contact u
                              on yr default ID which comes up in ur mails.

                              -Alwin

                              --- Peter Martinez <Peter.Martinez@...>
                              wrote:
                              > Thanks Haedn and Alwin for your patience. I think I
                              > can begin to understand it now. I remember a similar
                              > problem with my first computer in the 70's when I
                              > changed from magnetic tape storage to EPROM for the
                              > bootstrap/BIOS code (this was when EPROMs first
                              > appeared) and I had to be very careful about the
                              > sequence of changes so that I did not lock myself
                              > out of the machine.
                              >
                              > Alwin: I am sure you are right that I need to
                              > rebuild the kernel, but I am so new to Linux that I
                              > cannot understand your instructions. The rescue mode
                              > does indeed find the new installation and mount it
                              > at /mnt/sysimage and I can chroot to there, but I am
                              > lost after that. I see nothing that looks like the
                              > 'linux source directory' that you mention, and I
                              > cannot understand the documentation about the 'make'
                              > process, and I would not know how to 'select all the
                              > USB and SCSI stuff'. Is there a way to make the
                              > rescue kernel tell me which modules it has loaded
                              > after it was booted, so that I can know what I need
                              > to build into a new kernel?
                              >
                              > Would you be willing to contact me off the reflector
                              > and guide me through it? You can find my email
                              > address from the yahoogroups page.
                              >
                              > Peter
                              >



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                            • Haedn Thorn
                              ... The old default location of the source is /usr/src/linux though that doesn not have to be adhered to. Most likely, if you don t see the source code
                              Message 14 of 14 , Apr 4 8:47 AM
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                                --- Peter Martinez <Peter.Martinez@...>
                                wrote:
                                > Thanks Haedn and Alwin for your patience. I think I
                                > can begin to understand it now. I remember a similar
                                > problem with my first computer in the 70's when I
                                > changed from magnetic tape storage to EPROM for the
                                > bootstrap/BIOS code (this was when EPROMs first
                                > appeared) and I had to be very careful about the
                                > sequence of changes so that I did not lock myself
                                > out of the machine.
                                >
                                > Alwin: I am sure you are right that I need to
                                > rebuild the kernel, but I am so new to Linux that I
                                > cannot understand your instructions. The rescue mode
                                > does indeed find the new installation and mount it
                                > at /mnt/sysimage and I can chroot to there, but I am
                                > lost after that. I see nothing that looks like the
                                > 'linux source directory' that you mention, and I
                                > cannot understand the documentation about the 'make'
                                > process, and I would not know how to 'select all the
                                > USB and SCSI stuff'. Is there a way to make the
                                > rescue kernel tell me which modules it has loaded
                                > after it was booted, so that I can know what I need
                                > to build into a new kernel?
                                >
                                > Would you be willing to contact me off the reflector
                                > and guide me through it? You can find my email
                                > address from the yahoogroups page.

                                The old default location of the source is
                                '/usr/src/linux' though that doesn not have to be
                                adhered to. Most likely, if you don't see the source
                                code there, you haven't got it and should d/l it from
                                http://www.kernel.org ... I've been pretty happy with
                                the updates in the 2.6 series, but if you aren't sure
                                about your distro's support, play it safe and go with
                                2.4. ... Once you've unpacked the code with 'tar xzf
                                linux-2.x.xx.tar.gz' or 'tar xjf linux-2.x.xx.tar.bz2'
                                (depending on which you d/l) then cd into the new
                                directory and type 'make mrproper' and then 'make
                                menuconfig' ... The second command brings up a menu
                                system from which you can choose what components you
                                want compiled in and which you would like to compile
                                as modules, or leave out entirely. The categories are
                                fairly self-explanatory --ie: the bits that say "usb"
                                are for usb and the bits that say "scsi" are for scsi
                                ;) ... I am over-simplifying a little, but you'll see
                                once you've started up. ... Also, in the case of the
                                2.6 series, if you have ATi video, or a touchpad, I'd
                                stick with 2.6.10 over the newer 2.6.11.x kernel. It
                                is extremely tricky to get those components working
                                with the newer kernel due to some changes. I've heard
                                they'll be fixed in 2.6.12. ... So anyway, hopefully
                                that gets you a little closer. Alwin's instructions
                                were actually a little more complete than what I had
                                the first time I compiled. And we didn't have the
                                option of "menuconfig" then either! Check out 'make
                                config' if you hate yourself ;)
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