Post-install Modification of System Boot

Content by Christian Hansen (original archived HERE). Edited by Major Tom.
Last content update: 09 Feb 2001

Note: Most files linked from these pages are missing unfortunately.
Disclaimer: The information presented here is decades old and relevant only for legacy linux distros.

During the last steps of installing the distro on your system, you might have told the install program how, and from where, Linux is supposed to boot from in the future.

You might have survived through those steps, but most likely you have stuffed a non MCA kernel on your harddrive, derived from your distro, and not from the install diskette which have caused you so much suffering until now.

There is a tweak. Get the image file (1440 KB) and make a good old Slackware, boot diskette. (Stolen from and described on Su Wadlows pages. Old 2.0.35 kernel but it works).

Boot your machine from the Slackware diskette. When it has finished booting, and you see the prompt, type:


assuming you installed your distro on the first partition of the first SCSI drive.
Now, if you managed to start Linux with your harddrive as root, switch the Slackware diskette to the diskette you used to install your distro, and mount it by typing:

mount -t auto /dev/fd0    /mnt/floppy

Copy the kernel from the floppy to you harddrive by typing:

cp /mnt/floppy/vmlinuz   /boot/vmlinuz

You now have to run lilo, to be able to boot from the harddrive. First you must prepare instructions for lilo, by creating a file named /etc/lilo.conf. If you have not yet familiarized yourself with Linux editors, you could simply type:


and then activate the settings of the configuration file by issuing the lilo command:


Go: 'shutdown -r now' (=Dos Ctrl+Alt+Del) and see if it works. A note on the Slackware boot diskette: it is kernel 2.0.35, and like a pair of jumpstart cables when your car is frosted. You can get the machine up and humming, but wouldn't like to use it for traveling. But it is a good idea to save it as a rescue diskette, if you system breaks later on.

It might not be as easy as outlined above, since parameters could be wrong for your distro and setup.

What I am trying to say is, that you must somehow get a working MCA kernel from whatever source, to the directory on your harddrive which holds boot stuff. (Normally: /boot ).

But then again, it is not the law of gravity, that you have to place a MCA kernel on your harddrive, and boot form there. It is quite possible to leave whatever dysfunctional kernel your distro placed on the harddrive during the installation process, and boot every time from a special floppy, as long as the latter holds: a bootloader loadlin.sys, your precious MCA kernel, and a text file (sort of *autoexec.bat*) with directives how to find your harddisk. Maybe I'll expand on this later.

Content created and/or collected by:
Louis F. Ohland, Peter H. Wendt, David L. Beem, William R. Walsh, Tatsuo Sunagawa, Tomáš Slavotínek, Jim Shorney, Tim N. Clarke, Kevin Bowling, and many others.

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