Installing Red Hat Linux without Floppy Disks

This is a description of how I installed Red Hat Linux (both 8 and 9) without floppy disks. It worked for me, so it may also work for you. (I've also seen it fail on another machine.) No guarantees, though.

I downloaded the ISO images needed for the installed into the root directory of one of my partitions (for me, /mnt/c, which I need to remember for the install is /dev/hda1). For Red Hat 9, these are called shrike-i386-disc1.iso, shrike-i386-disc2.iso, and shrike-i386-disc3.iso, and checked the MD5 checksums against the MD5SUMS file distributed with them, and checked the PGP signature of the MD5SUMS file.

Since I like to have access to the ISO images after the install, I made subdirectories of /mnt for them and added them to /etc/fstab with the following lines:

/mnt/c/shrike-i386-disc1.iso /mnt/shrike/1      iso9660 loop=/dev/loop0,blocksize=1024,users,noauto,ro 0 0
/mnt/c/shrike-i386-disc2.iso /mnt/shrike/2      iso9660 loop=/dev/loop1,blocksize=1024,users,noauto,ro 0 0
/mnt/c/shrike-i386-disc3.iso /mnt/shrike/3      iso9660 loop=/dev/loop2,blocksize=1024,users,noauto,ro 0 0

Then came the fun part, which is to bootstrap the install without a floppy. I used the following commands (I have a /mnt/tmp directory for anything unusual that needs to be mounted) to mount the boot disk and copy the kernel into /boot (being careful not to overwrite anything that's already there):

# mount /mnt/shrike/1
# mount /mnt/shrike/1/images/boot.iso -o loop /mnt/tmp
# cp /mnt/tmp/isolinux/initrd.img /boot/shrike-initrd.img
# cp /mnt/tmp/isolinux/vmlinuz /boot/shrike-vmlinuz
# umount /mnt/tmp
# umount /mnt/shrike/1

Then I edited /boot/grub/grub.conf so that I could boot to the boot disk and start the install as if I were doing a normal hard disk install of RedHat Linux, by adding the following entry:

title Shrike Boot Disk
	kernel /boot/shrike-vmlinuz initrd=/boot/shrike-initrd.img lang= devfs=nomount ramdisk_size=9216
	initrd /boot/shrike-initrd.img

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(Back to Linux, David Baron)