Dual booting Debian and KolibriOS

KolibriOS is very impressive stuff, and after finding a brief set of instructions for installing it to a hard drive, I had a “dual-boot” system of both Debian and Kolibri running on the old Thinkpad 560e that’s still floating around the house.

It’s not as hard as it might sound; the instructions I found here from a few years ago still work fine with Debian stable as a host system. I can’t tell you why decided to use Debian, other than the fact that the CD was already in the drive.

And chances are I doubt it really matters which other Linux distribution you use as host, because the symbiont is tiny by comparison. If you give it a FAT32 partition of its own, you can save files to and fro and between the operating systems without having to rely on something like a floppy drive as an intermediary.

For my own purposes, this is what the partition array looked like on my test machine, with a slot specific to Kolibri.

/dev/hda1 64Mb /boot ext2
/dev/hda2 128Mb swap swap
/dev/hda3 1Gb /dos fat32
/dev/hda4 ~ / ext2

That last partition was whatever space happened to be lying around. It was more than enough to hold an entire Debian stable command-line installation, while the /dos partition was where all the Kolibri goodies sat -- and a gigabyte was way too much space for that, too.

In any case, I had a place to read and write screenshots or text files or what have you, and move them between operating systems. Primitive, but on a machine with no CD, no floppy, no USB and network access only while in Debian, I am hoping you can forgive me.

Once Debian was installed, I got the machine online and added syslinux and p7zip-full. The former brings in the memdisk package, which will allow you to boot straightaway into Kolibri off the hard drive, and the latter makes unzipping the .7z format a little easier. If anyone on the Kolibri team is listening, it's probably not necessary to compress a 5Mb ISO down to 3.5Mb, but do as you will. ...

Download the floppy image with wget, expand it to the /dos partition and keep an eye on where the kolibri.img file lands. Then edit your /boot/grub/menu.lst file to add something like this.

title KolibriOS
root (hd0,2)
kernel /memdisk
initrd /kolibri.img

As always, pay close attention to the root designation if you changed the array from what I had, and to the location of the .img file, relative to the top level of the partition. In other words, don't prefix the kernel or initrd lines with "/dos/", because it won't work.

After that it's simply a matter of rebooting. If everything is set correctly, Kolibri should running in only a few moments, far faster than by floppy. At 166Mhz and with a horrid 2Gb 4200rpm drive, it's up and running in less than 5 or 6 seconds.

The downside is that the video card in the 560e is officially certified VESA1.2 -- no ifs, ands or buts. That explains why no Linux distro to date could push it beyond 640x480, and why even Kolibri can't push it past 640x480x16. And that depth is utterly unattractive, with color smears and ruined visual effects everywhere.

No matter. I have other uses for that machine, and not all of them require a decent visual interface. ... :twisted:

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