3.5. Tips and Tricks

On some computers, there is no CD-ROM drive available, but a bootable floppy disk drive. To install on such a system, create a boot disk and boot your system with it. The boot directory on CD 1 contains a number of disk images. With a suitable utility, these images can be copied to formatted 3.5 inch HD floppy disks, creating a boot disk.

The disk images also include the loader SYSLINUX and the program linuxrc. SYSLINUX enables the selection of a kernel during the boot procedure and the specification of any parameters needed for the hardware used. The program linuxrc supports the loading of kernel modules for your hardware and subsequently starts the installation.

3.5.1. Creating a Boot Disk with rawwritewin

In Windows, boot disks can be created with the graphical utility rawwritewin. Find this utility in the directory dosutils/rawwritewin on CD 1.

On start-up, specify the image file. The image files are located in the boot directory on CD 1. You need at least the images bootdisk and modules1. To list these images in the file browser, set the file type to all files. Then insert a floppy disk in your floppy disk drive and click Write.

The other disk images (modules1, modules2, modules3, and modules4) can be created in the same way. These floppy disks are required if you have USB or SCSI devices or a network or PCMCIA card that you want to address during the installation. A module disk may also be needed if using a special file system during the installation.

3.5.2. Creating a Boot Disk with rawrite

The DOS utility rawrite.exe (CD 1, directory dosutils/rawrite) can be used to create SUSE boot and module disks. To use this utility, you need a computer with DOS (such as FreeDOS) or Windows.

In Windows XP, proceed as follows:

  1. Insert SUSE LINUX CD 1.

  2. Open a DOS window (in the start menu, select Accessories+Command Prompt).

  3. Run rawrite.exe with the correct path specification for the CD drive. The example assumes that you are in the directory Windows on the hard disk C: and your CD drive is D:.

  4. On start-up, the utility asks for the source and destination of the file to copy. The image of the boot disk is located in the directory boot on CD 1. The filename is bootdisk. Remember to specify the path for your CD drive.

    RaWrite 1.2 - Write disk file to raw floppy diskette
    Enter source filename: d:\boot\bootdisk
    Enter destination drive: a:

After you enter the destination drive a:, rawrite prompts you to insert a formatted floppy disk and press Enter. Subsequently, the progress of the copy action is displayed. The process can be terminated with Ctrl-C. To create several floppy disks, repeat the same procedure.

3.5.3. Creating a Boot Disk in a UNIX-Type System

On a UNIX or Linux system, you need a CD-ROM drive and several formatted floppy disks. Proceed as follows to create boot disks:

  1. If you need to format the disks first, use:

    fdformat /dev/fd0u1440

    This command also checks if the floppy disk is error-free. Do not proceed with a medium that has errors.

  2. Insert CD 1 in your CD-ROM drive and change to the boot directory on the CD. On current SUSE versions, it is not necessary to mount the CD manually.

  3. Create the boot disk with the following command:

    dd if=bootdsk1 of=/dev/fd0 bs=8k
  4. Repeat the procedure with the images bootdsk2 and bootdsk3.

The README file in the boot directory provides details about the floppy disk images. Read these files with more or less.

The other disk images (modules1, modules2, modules3, and modules4) can be created in the same way. These floppy disks are required if you have USB or SCSI devices or a network or PCMCIA card that you want to address during the installation. A module disk may also be needed to use a special file system during the installation.

The creation of module disks is not trivial. A detailed description of how to build a module disk can be found at /usr/share/doc/packages/yast2-installation/vendor.html.

3.5.4. Booting from a Floppy Disk (SYSLINUX)

The boot disk is used for handling special installation requirements (for example, if the CD-ROM drive is not available). The boot procedure is initiated by the boot loader SYSLINUX (package syslinux). When the system is booted, SYSLINUX runs a minimum hardware detection that mainly consists of the following steps:

  1. The program checks if the BIOS provides VESA 2.0–compliant framebuffer support and boots the kernel accordingly.

  2. The monitor data (DDC info) is read.

  3. The first block of the first hard disk (MBR) is read to map BIOS IDs to Linux device names during the boot loader configuration. The program attempts to read the block by means of the the lba32 functions of the BIOS to determine if the BIOS supports these functions.


If you keep Shift pressed when SYSLINUX starts, all these steps are skipped. For troubleshooting purposes, insert the line

verbose 1

in syslinux.cfg for the boot loader to display which action is currently being performed.

If the machine does not boot from the floppy disk, you may need to change the boot sequence in the BIOS to A,C,CDROM.

▪ x86
On x86 systems, CD 2 is also bootable. In contrast to CD 1, which uses a bootable ISO image, CD 2 is booted by means of 2.88 MB disk image. Use CD 2 if you are sure you can boot from CD, but it does not work with CD 1 (fallback solution). ▪

3.5.5. External Boot Devices

Most CD-ROM drives are supported. If problems arise when booting from the CD-ROM drive, try booting CD 2 of the CD set.

If the system does not have a CD-ROM or floppy disk, it is still possible that an external CD-ROM, connected with USB, FireWire, or SCSI, can be used to boot the system. This depends largely on the interaction of the BIOS and the hardware used. Sometimes a BIOS update may help if you encounter problems.

3.5.6. Installation from a Network Source

Sometimes a standard installation using a CD-ROM drive is not possible. For example, your CD-ROM may not be supported because it is an older proprietary drive. A secondary machine, like a laptop, might not have a CD-ROM drive at all, but only an ethernet adapter. SUSE LINUX offers the possibility of performing the installation on machines without a CD-ROM drive over a network connection. Usually this is done by means of NFS or FTP over ethernet.

No installation support is available for this approach. Therefore, the following procedure should only be attempted by experienced computer users.

To install SUSE LINUX from a network source, two steps are necessary:

  1. The data required for the installation (CDs, DVD) must be made available on a machine that will serve as the installation source.

  2. The system to install must be booted from floppy disk, CD, or the network and the network must be configured.

The installation source can be made available over various protocols, such as NFS and FTP. See Section 3.2, “linuxrc” for information about the actual installation.

SUSE LINUX Administration Guide 9.3