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System startup - step I


  1. The first step in booting a linux system is loading the kernel. This can be done in a variety of ways:

    1. Loadlin - loadlin runs from DOS, removes DOS from memory and loads linux kernel.
    2. Lilo (linux loader) - lilo replaces the MBR on the hard drive with code that will locate and load the linux kernel. Lilo can be configured to boot other operating systems as well as linux.
    3. Raw copy the kernel image to a floppy diskette (using the dd command). This diskette will not have a filesystem on it and you will not be able to get a directory listing for it but you will be able to boot from it.
  2. Once the kernel is loaded, it performs a set hardware detection routines which search for and identify devices in your system. The messages that appear on the screen during system startup show the results of this phase. You can also view these messages at anu time using the "dmesg" command. If you cannot get something to work (eg: networking, printing, dialup), first check is the boot messages to see if the device is supported.
  3. The linux kernel can be customized for a wide range of microcomputer systems and peripheral devices. The version of the kernel that floppix uses has been compiled with no support for hard drives, cd drives, sound cards, modems, mice, scanners, tape backup drives, ... This does NOT mean that this support is not available; it only means that it is not available in the version of the kernel floppix uses.


Run dmesg and answer the following questions (if the data scrolls off the screen, pipe the output through the more command to view it one screen at a time)


  1. how fast is your system (in bogomips)? _________


  1. how much total memory is installed? __________
  2. how much memory is in use by the kernel? __________
  3. how much memory is available for processes, data, ... __________


  1. did the kernel detect a parallel port (lp_)? __________
  2. which port is it (lp0, lp1 or lp2)? __________
  3. what I/O address is the port using? __________


  1. did the kernel detect a network card (eth0)? __________
  2. what type of network card (tulip, smc, 3com, ... ) __________
  3. what I/O address is the network card using? __________

disk drives:

  1. did the kernel detect a floppy drive (fd_)? __________
  2. what did it identify about the drive? __________
  3. did the kernel detect an ide hard drive (hd_)? __________
  4. did the kernel detect a scsi hard drive (sd_)? __________
  5. did the kernel detect a cdrom drive?__________

Copyright © L.M.MacEwan
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