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Author Topic: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI  (Read 7673 times)

Offline fratzicu

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TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« on: January 11, 2009, 03:37:46 AM »
Hi,
Is it possible to install TinyCore on an old IBM 486 machine 75 MHz with 16 mb ram and no PCI, only ISA? When I tried to install it, it stopped on "no pci, could not find any access method" or something like that. I have a NE2000 compatible network card and an opti audio card. The only distros that installed and detected correctly (but were slow) were Feather 0.7.5 and Damn Small Linux 1.5.
Also, (I am a kind of a collector) I have anodher 2 old laptops, a Compaq LTE Elite 486 50 Mhz 8 Mb RAM and IBM Thinkpad 755CD 486 DX4 100Mhz 24 Mb RAM also with no PCI, but with PCMCIA. I was hoping to bring them to life. Windows 95 worked pretty good on all those machines.
Also, since the distro is only 10 Mb in size, why not make a floppy series? (of course, network card required)
I imagine yourselves with a smile on your face right now, but it would be nice to just use those machines for accessing the internet, typing a text, printing, remote admin, messenger (I used miranda with win95), mail pop/imap client, those small things, not all in the same time, just basic X. I have put a great hope in TinyCore when I (recently) found the project.
Thanks.

Offline curaga

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Re: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2009, 04:03:49 AM »
Without hacks like the HD install, TC needs 32mb of ram to boot. It takes that much to load the kernel plus the core to ram. SIMM memory is dirt cheap nowadays, you should be able to up all the machines to their max for a few dollars spent at ebay.

This is not only for the min. to boot, it's for comfort when using any apps (I have personal experience of running DSL with 16mb ram, and even the desktop without icons swapped)

Even with max memory, you should probably do the HD install to conserve ram. The thread is here:
http://forum.tinycorelinux.net/index.php?topic=308.0

You can create floppy-sized images using any linux system, with the GNU split utility:
Quote
split -b 1440k tinycore.gz floppy
Then you'd use "dd" to write each of the floppy* files to a floppy, and on the resulting system (needs linux also) dd them out of the floppies to files. After all files have been moved over, they can be assembled with cat:
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cat floppy* > tinycore.gz
This does take 10 floppy moves, 8 for tinycore.gz 2 for the kernel, so a network solution may be preferable. If a linux floppy such as tomsrtbt supports your network card, you can just download the files to the comp.
The only barriers that can stop you are the ones you create yourself.

Offline fratzicu

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Re: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2009, 07:56:20 AM »
Thanks for the answer; just one more question: does tinycore support ISA cards?

Offline curaga

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Re: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2009, 08:08:14 AM »
Yes
The only barriers that can stop you are the ones you create yourself.

Offline fratzicu

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Re: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2009, 04:51:46 AM »
Hi.

I will study the problem more deeply, when I will have time. I wonder if you know a way of how to compile a kernel especially for the hardware installed on a computer (no more hardware), but also based on a hardware detection utility, and then make a floppy or cd linux distro based on it. I didn't find a comprehensive tutorial for that, only parts. I will follow some tips and tutorials I will find on the internet and run some tests.

P.S. : even if this distro is not intended for the old hardware, I hope it will not develop in forgetting it completely and become something like Fedora or Suse. We have plenty of those. Developing a hard disk install script may be a good idea.




Offline curaga

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Re: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2009, 05:05:41 AM »
As far as I know there is no complete utility that would transform your hardware data to a kernel .config file. There have been some attempts, but they usually generate configs with things missing or something unwanted.
The only barriers that can stop you are the ones you create yourself.

Offline softwaregurl

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Re: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2009, 08:31:28 AM »
FYI based on my own experience.  On board  video cards typically use system RAM.  So subtract memory used for video.  Linux is going to want a math co-processor  so  486DX will work but 486SX will not.
edit:I have also seen (but would have to find again) back ports projects to even 286 and other pre-linux hardware.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2009, 08:41:19 AM by softwaregurl »
Old wounds that have never healed need to be re-exposed before the cure can be applied.  The cure must be available before the wound is re-exposed.

Offline fratzicu

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Re: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2009, 11:47:18 AM »
Hi, I have tried to load TinyCore on the old system 486 with 24 meg ram; I have selected the tinycore base; the errors were:

ACPI: Unable to load the System Description Tables
PCI: Fatal: No config space access function found
Kernel panic - not syncing: Out of memory and no killable processes...

I don't know what those errors mean. I guess it's about the fact that my PC has no ACPI and no PCI.

Offline curaga

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Re: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2009, 01:18:05 PM »
Not having ACPI and PCI is not the problem, it's the fact you don't have enough RAM to boot (32mb). You would need to use a lighter system to install TC to the hard drive in order to use it on such low ram.
The only barriers that can stop you are the ones you create yourself.

Offline fratzicu

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Re: TinyCore on old 486 with ISA only, no PCI
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2009, 02:09:42 PM »
Hi, I have succeeded installing TinyCore on the 486 with 16 meg ram. I have installed it on a partition of the HDD. It rund pretty slow, but it runs. Far faster than DSL. Now, the problem is that it doesn't detect my ISA network card, a SMC 8140.

Here is a little tutorial (how I did it):
1) get a tomsrtbt on a floppy. to do this, you need to download it here http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/system/recovery/tomsrtbt-2.0.103.tar.gz for linux and here http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/system/recovery/tomsrtbt-2.0.103.dos.zip for dos. Make sure you use a good floppy
2) use a partitioning tool to create a linux ext2 partition
3) I have win 95 on a partition, and anodher fat32 partition; the windows has a network card so I got the tinycore.gz on a fat32 partition
4) I used tomsrtbt to start pc and mounted the ext2 and fat partitions
5) gunzipped and copied the file tinycore.gz and bzImage to the / of the ext2 partition;
gunzip tinycore.gz
cp /mnt/dos/tinycore.gz /mnt/ext2fs (just an example)
cp /mnt/dos/bzImage /mnt/ext2fs
cd /mnt/ext2fs
cpio -d -i<tinycore (here i added the -d command, to create needed directories)
6) created /boot/grub folder where i have put the file menu.lst with
title Tinycore
root (hd0,4)
kernel /bzImage root=/dev/hda5 (my case)
boot
7) created a grub boot floppy on anodher linux system as described here http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/4622
8) rebooted with the grub boot, and at the grub prompt i have issued the exact commands as in menu.lst and booted tinycore
9) mounted fd0 under /mnt/fd0
10) copied the files from floppy (stage*) to the /boot/grub/ and chmodded 777 -R /boot/grub/
mount /dev/fd0 /mnt/fd0
cp /mnt/fd0/boot/grub/stage* /boot/grub/
11) rebooted with the grub boot floppy and at the grub prompt gave the commmands from menu.lst without the last "boot" command
12) gave then setup (hd0,4) in my case which installed grub on the first sector of the tinycore partition
13) installed GAG boot manager (I like this one)
14) rebooted and everything worked fine
Now I have to find a way to com[ile support for my network card
But I'll take a break for now
I couldn't install it on an old laptop IBM thinkpad 755CD. It gave segfault when tried to start x server. It has 24 mb ram. I don't know what is the problem.

That's it

5)