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Hello to all, I have a problem with very old suse linux distro and hope you'll be able to give me some advice. First of all, please, don't advise me ...
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  1. #1
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    Boot details in an old suse distribution


    Hello to all,

    I have a problem with very old suse linux distro and hope you'll be able to give me some advice.
    First of all, please, don't advise me to swith to new version because I have some industrial software on it and don't have installation files. So I need to work with what I have.

    I have very old suse linux distribution installed on a very old computer (PIII, 850 Mhz...) I'm not sure about the verion but it's about 8 years old.

    This computer has a third party software installed which controls booting process.
    When I start the computer I receive message to press Ctrl+B for booting options, otherwise it starts automatically to copy from "backup to boot partition".

    If I press this keyboard combination I have options to repartition the drive, to boot from backup or to boot from main partition.

    So,
    the normal start up process is to wait about 1 min backup partition to be copied to boot partition and then computer starts normally with linux loading.

    Now if I change anything (for example IP address via yast, or manually edit hosts file), after next restart, because of this copy procedure all settings revert to the old ones.

    I have tried to enter backup partition to startup and change the settings there, and also to change at the main partition later, but every time after copy procedure is finished I have old settings. This makes me mad.

    Is there some trick to disable this copy procedure that happens before LILO boots the system up?


    I'm not sure if I was clear enough, but basically I need to disable this third party procedure to be carried out.

    I'm not an expert in linux but I think that somewhere (maybe in LILO) there is some instruction to prevent this from executing.

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Linux Guru gogalthorp's Avatar
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    You have a very customized situation and very old software. I doubt that anyone here can help via the board. If you can not get the original programmers or company that did this you would need someone very expert in Linux on site to look at things and see how they are setup. What you describe is no where near standard practice.

    Have you tried to mount this "backup" partition maybe you can change the files there also so that the changes stick. But that is a pure guess on my part.

  3. #3
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    If your system can boot from a CD/DVD, then boot from a Live/Recovery CD/DVD, and either copy the main to backup partition (if they are otherwise the same other than changes made), or copy the appropriate files from the main to backup partition. You can also edit the lilo configuration file to boot the main instead of the backup partition, possibly.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    In older version of Linux and particularly Suse, each boot copied standard configuration files to their locations. A primary example is /etc/resolv.conf. I modified a number of the /etc/init.d scripts to look for a comment line in these files that was in my format, and prevent an overwrite (I merged the differences).

    Also, do a 'uname -a' to find the kernel release. If you are using a vanilla system, it may be possible to make an educated guess with regards to the release.

    I use a system for a LAN server that started as 10.2 and is now highly customized using a 2.6.38.6 kernel customized by me, a custom compiled version of KDE 3.5, etc. In other words, I have the ability to keep it up to date. Without that ability, your best long term solution is to image the system to another machine (clonezilla, partimage or simply cpio over a network) and slowly move the clone to something newer and supported.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Micik View Post
    Hello to all,

    ...

    This computer has a third party software installed which controls booting process.
    When I start the computer I receive message to press Ctrl+B for booting options, otherwise it starts automatically to copy from "backup to boot partition".

    ...

    I have tried to enter backup partition to startup and change the settings there, and also to change at the main partition later, but every time after copy procedure is finished I have old settings. This makes me mad.

    Is there some trick to disable this copy procedure that happens before LILO boots the system up?

    I'm not sure if I was clear enough, but basically I need to disable this third party procedure to be carried out.

    I'm not an expert in linux but I think that somewhere (maybe in LILO) there is some instruction to prevent this from executing.

    Thank you
    The first question is where the third party software is installed. If it is something added to the machine it has to either be installed in BIOS or on the hard drive. If it is in the Bios, you are out of luck removing it except by re-flashing the bios using software specific to your computer and computer manufacturer. I can't really help you if that's the case.

    On the other hand, most boot time software that is part of Linux (or even customized linux) has to be installed to the boot sector of the hard drive, or to the boot partiton of the drive. All AT machines (even old ones) that are not Apple modifications -- read the first 512 bytes (the master boot record) from the hard drive, and execute whatever boot loader resides there. In order to install a boot loader *before* LILO -- but to still have a normal LILO install somewhere, pretty much means the third party software is either BIOS based or master boot record (MBR) based -- and that lilo is installed on the boot partition, and not the master boot record. (I could be wrong, but this is a rule of thumb).

    In general, then, re-installing LILO on the master boot record can effectively bypass any third party boot software installed on the hard drive. If your system had LILO installed the normal way, you will find a file /etc/lilo.conf that contains all the settings that were used. Check there first to see what it says, and to make sure it doesn't already say to install to the master boot record. If that isn't just a dummy lilo.conf file, listing its contents here on the boards would be a great help in solving your problem(s).

    If your man pages are up to date, you can use "man lilo.conf" to get details, or "/sbin/lilo --help" for a quick reference about the LILO command; Typically, to force LILO to install on the master boot record of a drive, one can do something like "lilo -M /dev/hda mbr". or edit 'lilo.conf' to install to the MBR.

    Worst case, re-installing LILO with the same configuration (but in the a different install location) will have no effect. It ought not affect your system's boot. However, installing a wrong configuration ( a dummy configure file that isn't really edited ) may stop your system from booting at all. So you need a live CD, or boot disk set as a safety measure if you don't know exactly what you are doing. Any distribution is acceptable as a boot CD as long as it is newer than the one you are working on and has the file-system support for your older system; ext2fs is not always found installed in the kernel on new boot CD's (by default) even though it was the standard a few years back.

    How did you try to modify the backup partition? as that seems like the most intelligent option besides re-installing LILO. ? I'd like to understand why that failed.

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    another location

    One of the places I modify for custom boots is the initrd, the initial boot ram disk. There are a number of good posts on the Internet on how to read and modify it; IBM has one somewhere on their Linux information pages. This is a likely location for the modification you are talking about. If not, consider compiling a vanilla kernel (use the long term support version from kernels.org -- I believe its 2.6.35.3 currently. Kernel compilation and installation is not all that complicated if you use the default configuration.

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    Yes, this is very good question.
    When I move this hard drive to another computer there is no this "failsafe" option when booting and LILO starts normally.
    I have checked in BIOS and didn't find anything unusual.
    Simple no idea where this software is installed.

    There are no other hard drives in the computer, so this is really a puzzle.

    Thank you for advices

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