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My guess, after a few hints, is that it is a (floppy) disk a "rudimentary" (or sparse) Linux file system, starting at the / (root). It will have things like /sbin and thus can hold executables.

Here is one of the hints I found: http://electron.phys.dal.ca/Bootdisk-HOWTO-13.html -- I suspect reading the entire HOWTO may answer a lot of my questions.

Minimize the duplication between this and CreateALinuxBootableDisk.

I have a hidden rant on FormatAFloppyDisk with some things relevant to this, in particular:

The following is a first cut (rough draft) and is also a CFK:LinuxFrustrations. Read some more before making the next revision. (Like I mentioned somewhere else, I am rushing too much today.)

Q: Why must you have a root disk to run an executable in Linux.

A: It's not necessary, several aproaches:

  • Boot / root pair of floppies, root has a compressed file system that is loaded into ramdisk for speed.
  • I suspect a boot disk only is sort of a degenerate case -- may have a tiny root image (perhaps as little as / only.
  • Otherwise, a boot disk requires that you specify a location for the root filesystem, which could be on a harddrive, floppy, ramdisk (this is the pararmeter that you can pass to a boot disk, something like root=/dev/hda2.
  • You can put an executable on a floppy (along with any (special) libraries it may need -- parted as an example) and use it in either of two ways -- copy the executable to a usable place in the / directory tree and run it from there, or mount the floppy disk in a usable place in the / directory tree and run it from there. (Rephrase, reduce repetition, maybe move to CreateALinuxBootableDisk.


Q: If I have a single floppy system (and have booted from floppy ala a rescue situation), and I have a file like parted /sbin/parted can I insert another floppy to copy that file to? (The GNU parted manual seems to imply this, but I don't see how that can work.)

A: Yes, and the reason is that most root disks contain a compressed (root) filesystem which is loaded into a RAM disk at the end of the boot process. Thus, in the part of the parted manual that confused me, they were really copying the parted file from the RAM disk (/sbin/parted) to another floppy (/mnt/floppy).


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  • () RandyKramer - 19 Feb 2003
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