Lowering the bar

I don’t know what it is about my character that enjoys making things more difficult for myself, but I’m presently rebuilding Xorg off the Crux 2.5 rc1 CD, again. But this time it’s for the ancient laptop, with the added dilemma of using the old, original 810Mb hard drive.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t worry about the size of the drive, but it became rather obvious very early on that this was going to be an interesting complication.

First of all, if I partition the drive with the 64Mb slice I usually devote to /boot, plus a 256Mb swap partition, then I’m left with only 490Mb of free space — and that’s not really enough to hold the system files.

Part of that problem is because Crux drops in the uncompiled 2.6.27-series kernel, uncompressing it in a giant tree that, along with the fresh packages, takes up a considerable amount of space. Technically the Crux installer ends with errors when I try that stunt, because there’s not not enough space for everything.

So I trimmed down the swap space to 128Mb and reallocated the /boot partition to the main root, which should, in a manner of speaking, give back that space to the main directory. So I have a whopping 682Mb available for fun and profit (provided of course, that I also reduce the root-reserved space to zero percent when I format the drive — mkfs.ext2 -m 0 /dev/hdc1).

Well, that’s still not enough, so I’ve been getting creative.

I’m piggybacking the modular drive into the Inspiron, but only after removing the cushioning pads from the drive tray, because as I mentioned before, the drive is slightly taller than a standard laptop hard drive. No real inconvenience, although now the drive heads smack against the frame from time to time, reverberating through the drive case into the plastic shell, which means the left palmrest of my Inspiron occasionally makes an echoing CLACK-CLACK-CLACK sound. Rather amusing really, once I got used to it. 😆

I also managed to circumvent my drive-password issues by entering the BIOS and acknowledging the settings that were there already before proceeding with a boot. It seems to be okay; I’m no longer harassed about a boot password for that drive, and that’s good.

(Rather than mirror the drive to a file I decided to just blank it and move on — I have little use for a Japanese installation of Windows 95 that has no network access. If I want that, I’ll just install IceWM and dummy up the environment to look like Win95. And yank the network card, just to complete the picture. 🙄 )

I started the installation process and let the kernel decompression crap out, then chrooted into the system and mounted the system drive I already had in there to the /usr/src directory. Then I downloaded the current kernel from kernel.org, then moved it to /usr/src and decompressed it. Then, as an added inconvenience, I downloaded the 2.4 ISO and mounted that too — since gcc won’t work for me off the 2.5 CD — and compiled the kernel.

Whew! But it’s not over.

Everything went fine, because it’s doing all it’s compiling and compressing and whatnot through to the main system drive. But the next problem is that all of the software has to be recompiled for i586 (or --march=pentium, technically) or most of it won’t run, so I issued a papal bull with prt-get listinst | xargs prt-get update --margs="-f" and let it run overnight.

But the problem this morning, of course, is that larger compilations — like glibc, perl and python — don’t have enough space either.

Boy oh boy, if it’s not one thing, it’s another isn’t it?

All right: Problem, we solve it. I copied out the .config I made for the kernel, since that’s the most crucial part, and dismounted the /usr/src directory. Technically I was done with that.

Then I moved the entire updated ports tree from /usr/ports to a thumb drive so I would have a backup copy, and emptied the /usr/ports directory. Then I remounted the system drive to /usr/ports and replaced everything there.

Is any of this making any sense?

Anyway, it is working again, with the larger packages compiling properly — and probably more quickly, although only by a fraction since the drive can read and write faster than the old, old one. Once they’re built, they install automatically back to the 810Mb drive since the path and tree are still within the chrooted environment.

And with any luck, in about eight hours, I’ll have a working desktop for my FMV-5100 again.

Or at least, that’s the plan. And no doubt there’s something I’ve overlooked or misconfigured, which will hamstring the entire system and force me to start over from scratch.

And that, of course, will be because the entire time, I’ve been typing with my fingers crossed. Superstitious? Yes … how did you know? :mrgreen:


One thought on “Lowering the bar

  1. Pingback: New solutions to old puzzles « Motho ke motho ka botho

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