Category : UNIX Files
Archive   : SHOELACE.ZIP

Output of file : SHOELACE.DOC contained in archive : SHOELACE.ZIP
To: [email protected]
From: [email protected] (I Reid)
Crossposted-To: alt.os.linux
Subject: HD booting: a solution
Date: 6 Apr 92 07:22:52 GMT

I finally got round to writing this part of section II of my guide to Linux
installation. It's a bit rough around the edges yet so give me some feedback
on it and I'll see what I can do with it.

Sorry for the delay,


Booting Linux from your hard disk

For a good general introduction to the principles of what happens when your
computer boots up you should read the file that comes with the
freeware program bootany (more later) or any good Dos programmers's reference.
(For the latter I can recommend "The Waite Group's MS-DOS Developer's Guide").
You don't need to know very much about what happens but it may help you
understand things if you've read a little about what normally happens.

Remember the master boot record and primary partitions from earlier in the
section? If not, you should re-read the relevant bit (at the start of the
section) before continuing.

On a very simplistic level, the mechanism of hard disk boot up is as follows
(assuming only one bootable partition)

1. The boot sector of the hard disk (physically the first sector on the disk)
is read into memory at 0000:7C00 by the ROM BIOS.
2. A few basic validation checks are carried out to make sure that this is a
proper boot sector.
3. Part of the boot sector is moved within memory and from there validates the
partition table.
4. The boot sector on the one and only startable partition is read into memory
at 0000:7C00 and the executable components run. This is operating specific
and loads Dos, Linux or whatever OS you are using.

The situation with 2 primary partitions is slightly more complicated because
the ROM BIOS cannot cope with having two startable (bootable) partitions and
will boot neither if it finds this situation. So, how do we get round this?

The master primary boot record contains code to check the partition table and
choose the startable partition. If we can replace this code with some that
gives us the choice between say Dos and Linux then the boot sector of the
partition we choose will be loaded in and run. This boot sector contains the
code for the specific operating system.

As you can see, there are 2 distinct problems:

1. What do we put into the master boot record to let us choose partitions
2. What do we put into the Linux partition to let us boot it

Thankfully the solution is easier than the theory so, without further ado let
us press on. Starting with Linux.....

You will need: - Shoelace
- a compiled version of the bootimage (either the original
bootimage or from a kernel rebuild)

You should find Shoelace in any of the Linux archives as a compressed tar file
(i.e .tar.Z suffix). Transfer it to Linux, uncompress it and move it to /tmp
(creating /tmp with mkdir if necessary). Now cd to /tmp and you're ready to

If you untar the shoelace tar with tar xvf shoe.tar (or whatever it's called)
you should see something like this
[Root]/tmp: tar xvf shoe.tar


What this means is that shoe.tar has been extracted, the directory /tmp/shoe
has been created and within that a directory called src has also been
created. There are some files in each. If you go into the shoe directory and
do a directory listing with ls you should see

Readme config laceup shoelace winiboot
bootlace disktab readme src

You should read the readme file (note the small r in readme) because it
contains some important warnings which I do not intend to repeat. You should
read them and be aware of them. Much of the readme file is irrelevant although
you should try the floppy bootup it suggests if you are not happy with things.
The synopsis of it is that you should move laceup, bootlace, winiboot, config
and disktab to /etc and shoelace to /.

After that you need to move your bootimage to somewhere standard. I chose to
call it /vmlinux. The name you give it is up to you.

Next you need to edit /etc/config. Initially it contains a lot of entries that
are irrelevant to Linux (it is mainly a minix program). Most of these can be
happily deleted (mine looks like this)

# Shoelace configuration file

boot /vmlinux


The only important bit is the boot entry!

Next go to /etc (cd /etc) and type

# laceup /dev/hda2 wini

Be very careful here! What you are trying to do is to put the operating system
specific information into the boot sector of your LINUX PARTITION. In my case
this is /dev/hda2. Read and heed the warnings in the shoelace readme file
before you do this 'cos one false move and you could end up in a mess. You
should see something like this

[Root]/etc: laceup /dev/hda2 wini
Identification: ShoeLace
Sector size: 512 bytes
Block size: 2 sectors
Boot sectors: 2 sectors
Number of fats: 0
Root directory size: 0 entries
Volume size: 0 sectors
Media descriptor: 0xf8
Fat size: 0 sectors
Track size: 0 sectors
Cylinder size: 0 tracks
Hidden sectors: 0 sectors
Floppy table: 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00

That's part one done. Next you have to modify the master boot record (first
sector on the hard disk) to implement the boot time partition decision.
/dev/hda is the ENTIRE hard disk (and the main way to access the master boot
record from linux). Again, read the warnings (ESPECIALLY IF YOU ONLY HAVE ONE
PARTITION) and press on if you are happy with things. For my setup I would

# laceup -w 2 /dev/hda

and if all goes well I will see

Boot Hd Sec Cyl Type Hd Sec Cyl Base Size
1 80 1 1 0 6 e 5c 24 28 123032
*2 0 0 41 25 80 e 9c 9 123060 96180
3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

What this shows is that I have 4 primary partitions (remember them?), only 2
are in use. the first one is marked bootable (Boot field of hex 80 = bootable, 0
is not). This is my Dos partition (type 6). The other one (number 2) is my Linux
partition (type hex 80). The -w 2 switch to laceup means that I want partition
2 to be my default partition (i.e. if I don't select a partition then it
should boot partition 2). It doesn't matter whether the partition you choose
is bootable or not. Shoelace will fix all ๐Ÿ™‚

Ok, now logout, reboot (without a floppy in the floppy drive) and you should
get an unpleasant looking boot menu (with a star by the 2 in my case). Select
the number that corresponds to your Linux partition and watch it boot. Here is
a bit of mine as an example (i.e. what's still on screen when the login prompt
comes up!)

*2 0 0 41 25 80 E 9C 9 123060 96180
3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
/dev/fd0 not found - guessing major and minor device numbers
processor = -1
ramimagedev = 512 /dev/fd0
ramsize = 0
rootdev = 770 bootdev
scancode = 13

Component base text data bss stack symbols model
ShoeLace : 80000 843C 1AC4 FF8 3378 1D90 ComI&D
Load Parts
kernel : kernel not found

Load Image
Press to see SVGA-modes available or any other key to continue.

8 virtual consoles
4 pty's
Partition table ok.
14738/48090 free blocks
14717/16030 free inodes
1209 buffers = 1238016 bytes buffer space
Free mem: 2097152 bytes
Adding Swap: 2047 pages (8384512 bytes) swap-space

[blank lines deleted]

Welcome to Wizbit - running 0.95a (6/4/92)

Wizbit login:



That's it! Before anyone asks, I will answer 3 other questions here...

1. Can I use bootany instead of shoelace?
2. How did I name my system so that I don't get (none) login:
3. How did I get 1209 buffers with only 4Mb of RAM?

Using bootany

Bootany is a boot time partition selector like shoelace and, in theory should
be usable to give you the boot choice like shoelace. Unfortunately, it doesn't
seem to work. When I tried it on my machine it altered my partition table and
wouldn't boot anything. The solution to this was easy enough- boot linux from
floppy and rebuild the partition table using pfdisk.

Another warning.... if you use the w option on pfdisk be very careful
about what is. For example, don't use bootany.sys (part of bootany)
unless you want to wipe out your partition table (no Dos, no Linux....
nothing!). To get out of this you'll need a partition table editor on a
bootable floppy (remember I told you to keep your linux root and boot floppy
safe? Now you know why :-))

Question 2..... add a line to your /etc/rc that says

/bin/hostname Wizbit

where "Wizbit" is the name of your system. Reboot and be amazed ๐Ÿ™‚ (if you
remembered to get hostname from the archives of course!)
p.s. And no pinching "Wizbit".... get your own!


Question 3: First of all be very sure that you want to change things on your
system. I run almost exclusively single user and have never run out of real
memory ley alone touched my 8Mb of swap memory. I read a posting to
alt.os.linux a while ago from someone (sorry, don't remember who) who said
that he had bumped up his buffers (on a similar setup) and had noticed a
significant speed increase. My changes are on trial to see a. if it makes a
difference to me and b. if it causes me any problems. What to do....

In /usr/src/linux/init/main.c you'll see a bit that looks like this

if (memory_end > 16*1024*1024)
memory_end = 16*1024*1024;
if (memory_end >= 12*1024*1024)
buffer_memory_end = 4*1024*1024;
else if (memory_end >= 6*1024*1024)
buffer_memory_end = 2*1024*1024;
else if (memory_end >= 4*1024*1024)
buffer_memory_end = 3*512*1024;
buffer_memory_end = 1*1024*1024;

If after much thought and consideration etc you want to change things then
find the memory_end entry for you (4Mb = 4*1024*1024 = my setup) and change the
buffer_memory_end bit. I changed mine to look like this

if (memory_end > 16*1024*1024)
memory_end = 16*1024*1024;
if (memory_end >= 12*1024*1024)
buffer_memory_end = 4*1024*1024;
else if (memory_end >= 6*1024*1024)
buffer_memory_end = 2*1024*1024;
else if (memory_end >= 4*1024*1024)
buffer_memory_end = 4*512*1024; /* IAR 3/4/92 */
buffer_memory_end = 1*1024*1024;
main_memory_start = buffer_memory_end;

Recompile the kernel and that's it.


p.s. remember to change it back if you have problems 'cos it is a non standard
hack :-). Also check that it is not the source of a problem before
posting to alt/comp.os.linux!

  3 Responses to “Category : UNIX Files
Archive   : SHOELACE.ZIP

  1. Very nice! Thank you for this wonderful archive. I wonder why I found it only now. Long live the BBS file archives!

  2. This is so awesome! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’d be cool if you could download an entire archive of this at once, though.

  3. But one thing that puzzles me is the “mtswslnkmcjklsdlsbdmMICROSOFT” string. There is an article about it here. It is definitely worth a read: