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Trying to boot a big disk image off "bare metal" hardware with low RAM; not working


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#1 dav7

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 06:31 AM

Hi everyone!

First up, I've posted this in the "...and any other methods" section because I'm open to all suggestions, since I don't seem to be getting anywhere with what I've tried up to this point.

What I'm trying to do: try out a Linux distro (Moblin).
Estimated difficulty: Piece of cake. ;)
Actual difficulty: Impossible! ;)

Up until now, I've...
  • Tried burning two CDs which both failed (one won't even boot and the other causes the kernel to complain about corrupt sectors) - looks like my CD burner is on the fritz (as the ISO md5sum checks out) :)
  • Tried booting the (live) ISO file in various VMs:
  • qemu is too slow (single-core P4 FTL)
  • VirtualBox's virtual CPU doesn't support PAE and the 2.6.29 kernel Moblin comes with has PAE compiled in, and
  • VMware Player (I found a VMware VMX/VMDK of a beta of a slightly older release) seems to boot to a blank X desktop and hang - checking htop shows that vmware's using pretty much zero CPU - but since the VMware files weren't supplied with md5sums to check I don't know if the files were corrupt. They were in a bz2 which extracted without errors, so...
  • Don't even get me started on Xen. Let's just say I don't want to drive myself insane. :)
After quite a bit of confusion, meddling, "uhhh..."s and "ooh!"s I got the idea to convert the VMware VMDK to a raw disk file in hopes of putting an older kernel on it, realize the older kernel won't be able to load any 2.6.29 modules and result in a Spectacular Display Of Fireworks™, then get the idea to try my own kernel, THEN discover my own kernel has PAE in it too... AGH *runs away*

So right now I have the ISO file of the latest version (which is 670MB) stashed on my server since my desktop has so little diskspace on it (2GB FTL) and the VMDK and raw image files of the older beta version on my desktop.

Said desktop currently has 512MB RAM (and while that has its ups and downs, for the most part I cope ;P) and I've been trying to boot the 1.5GB disk image directly on it. I know this image includes an MBR and partition table. Here's what parted says about the file (yes, it's in /var because I have some space there :angry:):

GNU Parted 1.8.8

Using /var/moblin.img

Welcome to GNU Parted! Type 'help' to view a list of commands.

(parted) print															

Model:  (file)

Disk /var/moblin.img: 1573MB

Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B

Partition Table: msdos



Number  Start  End	 Size	Type	 File system  Flags

 1	  512B   1500MB  1500MB  primary  ext3			  



(parted)

All I've tried at this point is using GRUB4DOS to map the file to (hd0) so I can treat it like a real hard disk, but that doesn't work - without the --mem option, GRUB hangs (num lock won't toggle, I don't even have a cursor!), and with --mem, well, GRUB complains I don't have enough memory.

I've posted here because I'm outta ideas. Any suggestions (that don't involve buying new hard disks or RAM) will be appreciated. :cheers:

I have 1.5GB left in / so I can pretty easily copy the CD ISO from my server back to my desktop and try and boot that as well, if you have any ideas on how I'd try that.

Thanks!

-dav7

#2 was_jaclaz

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 08:55 AM

Hmmm. ;)

The problem with grub4dos mapping appears to be that of a fragemented (non contiguous) file, see here:
http://diddy.boot-la...s/files/map.htm

but you should get a different Error.

Why is the disk so big?

Are really 1.5 Gb necessary?

How did you convert the VMDK to RAW?

A possible option:

Try using 0xff mapping of the .iso? ;)

It won't probably work, but you should be able at least to get to busybox....

http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=5041

jaclaz

#3 cdob

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 03:28 PM

What I'm trying to do: try out a Linux distro (Moblin).

Name the URL to clarify your distro.
Do you use http://moblin.org/ ?

Tried booting the (live) ISO file in various VMs:

[*]VMware Player (I found a VMware VMX/VMDK of a beta of a slightly older release)

VMware Player does boot the (live) ISO file moblin-netbook-beta-refresh-20090529-001.img

By the way, that's a hybrid image. This can be written to CD and USB stick.
http://moblin.org/do...blin-live-image

PloP booting USB stick fails at VMware Player. Moblin continuous reboot.

#4 dav7

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 07:32 AM

Thanks for your responses.

The problem with grub4dos mapping appears to be that of a fragemented (non contiguous) file, see here:
http://diddy.boot-la...s/files/map.htm

but you should get a different Error.

Exactly. :/

Why is the disk so big?

Are really 1.5 Gb necessary?

I didn't ask for it to be that big - I barely have enough diskspace as it is. That's roughly how big the VMDK is though.

How did you convert the VMDK to RAW?

qemu-img convert moblin-netbook-core-alpha2-20090311-sda.vmdk -O raw /var/moblin.img
^ Exactly what I used ;)

Try using 0xff mapping of the .iso?

Will do!


Name the URL to clarify your distro.
Do you use http://moblin.org/ ?

Yeah, sorry, forgot to mention that. ;)

VMware Player does boot the (live) ISO file moblin-netbook-beta-refresh-20090529-001.img

Oh? How? I thought the player required a VMX file...?

By the way, that's a hybrid image. This can be written to CD and USB stick.

Nice to know, but I don't think my PC supports USB booting :)

PloP booting USB stick fails at VMware Player. Moblin continuous reboot.

Thanks for trying anyway. :)

Looks like I have a few things to try!

*reaches for scp, the server power switch, and that ISO file* brb :angry: :cheers:

#5 dav7

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 08:17 AM

Okay... that kinda failed.

I forgot to note before that the same no-cursor issue appears on both my real hardware as well as QEMU (which I use to check if whatever I'm trying does anything apparently useful, so I'm not constantly rebooting), so this could possibly, just possibly, be a GRUB4DOS bug. Or it could be FreeDOS, but I doubt that.

And when I tried to map the ISO file to either (0xFF) or (hd32) QEMU hung, just like before with the hard disk image.

As a fun little test I tried giving QEMU 700MB of RAM (;)) and mapping with the --mem option (which used quite a bit of swapspace) but did work - once everything had settled down I had a GRUB4DOS prompt.

-dav7

#6 cdob

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 09:07 AM

Oh? How? I thought the player required a VMX file...?

Yes, a vmx file is required. That's a text file, use a editor and change your file.

http://sanbarrow.com...d-settings.html

Use the Moblin image as a CD-ROM.
ide1:0.present = "TRUE"

ide1:0.fileName = "moblin-netbook-beta-refresh-20090529-001.img"

ide1:0.autodetect = "TRUE"

ide1:0.deviceType = "cdrom-image"

ide1:0.startConnected = "TRUE"

ide1:0.exclusive = "FALSE"


#7 dav7

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 02:20 AM

Wow. Hi there.

That, in short, gave my PC a heart attack that lasted for about 15 minutes. It's just recovered. (No, it didn't work.) ;)

Looks like VMing it isn't going to work! Time to try burning another CD-R, I guess. *wants some CD-RWs*

-dav7

#8 dav7

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 02:41 AM

...and yet another CD bites the dust.

It's weird - this CD (and another) both display the proper ISOLINUX header, then seem to simply stall. The CD stops reading and so on, except my hard disk light is on solid - not in the way you'd get when loading a big application or swapping to the moon and back, simply on... solid. Not flashing at all. Weirdness... anyways.

Looks like this ain't gonna work. Wow...

-dav7




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