[TUHS] Pre-init initialization

Theodore Y. Ts'o tytso at mit.edu
Sat Aug 10 10:23:08 AEST 2019

On Thu, Aug 08, 2019 at 07:52:04PM -0600, Grant Taylor via TUHS wrote:
> That's before my time.  If I remember correctly, by the time I was creating
> boot+root disks it was the kernel plus something—I don't remember if it was
> an initramfs or an initrd—concatenated together.  I also remember having to
> use a utility to update the kernel to tell it where the something started.
> Which was really based on how big the kernel was as padding before the
> something started.  That was probably 2.<something> on Slackware in '99.

In 1993 Fred van Kempen (who did the original Linux TCP stack before I
got rewritten by Alan Cox's Net-2 stack) added a patch to the ramdisk
code which so the root file system would be loaded from a second
floppy into the ramdisk.  That was because he wanted to fit more into
stuff into the root file system, and by using a second floppy, the
full 1.44MB could be used for the root file system in the ramdisk.  As
I recall the kernel was also getting bigger than 512k, too.

In '95, Slackware started releasing on CD-ROM's, and while there may
have been boot/root floppies, I suspect more and more they were used
as rescue media, since installing from a CD-ROM was *way* more

I'm guesing what you were doing was creating a kernel plus initramfs
which was sufficient to mount a root file system elsewhere as an
emergency "boot this failsafe kernel off the floppy", perhaps?  I
don't think a kernel+initramfs on a single 1.44MB floppy would have
been sufficient for use as an install medium by '99.  Or were you
making an emergency USB thumb-drive as a rescue device, maybe?


				- Ted

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