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    Loading Debian on a PCMCIA Device
    Contributed by captainlarry on Thursday, October 25 @ 17:08:53 BST

    I'm part of Personal Telco (a wireless community) and one of the things we're doing is building Linux based access points using the Host AP Mode drivers for the PrismII cards. I've just gotten past the testing on my laptop phase and want to load a Debian image on a Fujitsu Stylistic which has a bootable 340MB PCMCIA hard drive.

    What is the best way to load woody onto a PCMCIA boot device? The Debian installers won't let you configure PCMCIA until the root filesystem is mounted. Using potato I would have just manually untar'd the base.tgz file but woody doesn't seem to work that way.

    My thought is that there has to be a way to mount the PCMCIA drive on my laptop, tell apt/dpkg that /mnt is now the root file system and install the base packages into there ... but before I go ransacking the documentation I thought I'd ask for pointers.

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  • "Loading Debian on a PCMCIA Device" | Login/Create Account | 6 comments

    The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.

    Reading required, I guess? (Score: 1)
    by rwa2 on Thursday, October 25 @ 20:30:02 BST
    (User Info)

    PCMCIA drives don't seem to be common, or else there would have been a way to do this without too much reading 🙂 I have doubts myself, what is the PCMCIA drive like? I've played with a 10MB memory card before, and it was pretty miserable... it was slower than the hard disk in my old 486 (hdparm -t would do maybe 1MB/s compared to maybe 3MB/s on the HD), and it also ate a lot more CPU time as well. Maybe it'd different now, with 32-bit cardbus. Either way, check the performance of that card first.

    Kernel 2.4 has PCMCIA integrated in, so you should be able to compile PCMCIA into the kernel... however, the userspace cardctl is still required to activate cards. Maybe you need a way to boot something like syslinux first to make everything work. That should be easier now that initrd made its way into apt, at least in sid. It seems like you'll be in for a lot of work unless the drive really is accessible as a block device from bootup :/

    As far as installing woody, I've been able to copy my installation between partitions simply by "cp -ax / /mnt", and then editing my /etc/lilo.conf to boot it, and fixing up /mnt/etc/fstab so it doesn't get too confused when it boots up. But that assumes that the PCMCIA HD will be visible to Lilo on boot :/ But if it really is "bootable" from the BIOS, then that may be the case?

    Have you seen this

    Fujitsu Stylistic
    site? Perhaps there's some useful info there...

    [ Reply ]

    Re: Reading required, I guess? (Score: 1)
    by captainlarry (org.spack@larry) on Thursday, October 25 @ 22:59:11 BST
    (User Info)

    I'm sure the performance of the drive isn't great but it's the only option on the Stylistics, besides all the box is doing is acting as a wireless router so HD performance isn't really very important.

    The PCMCIA hard disk shows up as hda in the Stylistic because the Stylistic's BIOS can boot off of PCMCIA stuff natively, it's just a matter of making the linux stuff recognise it.

    As for just copying another install over I thought about it but the only Debian install I have with a PCMCIA slot is my laptop whose install is considerable larger then will fit on a 340MB HD and I don't feel like trimming it down 🙂

    Finally thanks for the link, it looks like there's some good cookie cutter instructions there. I'll check it out.


    [ Reply ]

    Re: Reading required, I guess? (Score: 0)
    by Anonymous on Thursday, November 08 @ 10:18:11 GMT

    I have a Sony laptop with PCMCIA CD-ROM drive . When I boot

    with on CD-Rom plugged, the BIOS configure it as hdc, so

    that I can use it natively on linux without any PCMCIA modules

    or programs. It is nice for installing Debian from the CD-ROM.

    Maybe the same happens with your drive, in this case configure

    your system exactly as for an IDE disk on hda.


    [ Reply ]

    Re: Loading Debian on a PCMCIA Device (Score: 3, Informative)
    by JML on Friday, October 26 @ 01:24:49 BST
    (User Info)

    Yes, this should be pretty easy to do. These instructions are written assuming the pcmcia drive is in a computer already running linux.

    See this this message for a brief description on setting up a chroot woody filesystem. Follow the instructions there, using the mount point of your pcmcia drive as the install directory.

    Once you have the base system in place, it is simple enough to chroot /mnt/pcmcia /bin/sh and apt-get install to get the system you need. I used a similar method to create a rescue cd that has rsync, ssh, parted, and other good things on it.

    Your device might be able to boot from the pcmcia card, but linux might have trouble starting from it. If you are using a 2.4 kernel with the card drivers and pcmcia ide builtin to the kernel it will probably work, but you might read through linux/Documentation/ide.txt in the kernel sources to learn about the ide0= option for setting the address of the ide control.

    [ Reply ]

    Re: Loading Debian on a PCMCIA Device (Score: 1)
    by owen on Saturday, October 27 @ 17:37:21 BST
    (User Info)

    You could use debootstrap to make a woody chroot environment directly!


    [ Reply ]

    Re: Loading Debian on a PCMCIA Device (Score: 0)
    by Anonymous on Saturday, October 27 @ 01:21:00 BST

    [ Reply ]

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