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#1 2022-09-02 08:28:12

abaumann
Administrator
From: Zurich
Registered: 2019-11-14
Posts: 810
Website

Floppy for i486

Just wanted to mention a side-project I'm working on:
https://git.archlinux32.org/archi486/tree/floppy/

The basic idea is to have a simple Linux bootloader on floppies, which uses a big split tarfile
containing kernel, ramdisk and additional drivers (all in one neat tarfile). This does away with
the old 'boot disk', 'root disk' pattern, while a ramdisk easily fits on a floppy, a modern Linux
kernel does not (unless you disable almost everything).

This was tested on a real Unisys 486 machine with 64MB of RAM, I used it to partition and
initialize a SD card, then I copied the ISO there and installed from the mounted chroot of
the ISO. This worked astonishingly well (though in 3-4 hours)..

After installing, I realized that systemd is really not suited for a 486, 66 MHz: from booting
to a login I need 4-5 minutes.. This rizes the question, whether an Archlinux32 is suitable
for such old computers at all..

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#2 2022-09-02 15:13:15

levi
Moderator
From: Yorkshire, UK
Registered: 2018-06-16
Posts: 1,179

Re: Floppy for i486

4-5 minuted to boot doesn't sound too bad to me.  Gives you a chance to brew the kettle to make your liquid sustenance for the session.  I assume it runs well once booted up, which is the main thing for me.

I assume you made some swap for this.  Deconfiugring the kernel sounds fine to me, I mean a 486-66 will predate USB and PCI-Express.  I remember running archlniux on a Coppermine Pentium-3 and that had USB1,1 round the back only.  I'm not sure where a main dated 486 will have PCI or ISA buses, probably limited number of either socket.  As long as it can run a VGA card and a soundblaster compatible card that's be enough for most.

Last edited by levi (2022-09-02 15:13:59)


Architecture: pentium4, Testing repos: Yes, Hardware: EeePC 901+2GB RAM+OS half on the SD card.

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#3 2022-09-02 15:17:39

abaumann
Administrator
From: Zurich
Registered: 2019-11-14
Posts: 810
Website

Re: Floppy for i486

Yeah, swap is pretty important before you start pacstrap. :-)

4-5 minutes with systemd is just way too long compared to a simple shell script rc-approach with
busybox (which is around 20 seconds).

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