Rojakcoder
Of Linux, Programming, and Singaporean Ramblings

Installing SLED10 SP1 on EeePC Part 1

Wed, Apr 23, 2008 12:59PM +0800

Part of my work requires me to play with the ASUS Eee PC. In particular, I’ve got to install on the Eee PC SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) 10 SP1. The process is more difficult than it sounds. I’m blogging about it here so that other people who are interested in doing the same thing can share my experience and theirs through comments.

The aim of this is to make Eee PC more accessible and useful for school children (primary and secondary schools, in Singapore). The default installation of the customised Xandros Linux distribution is easy to use, but it is also considerably more limited in its functions. My company hopes to bring to the schools a more powerful operating system (OS) on a mobile platform that is very affordable. Being a partner of Novell, we naturally chose SUSE Linux as the OS of choice.

Installation

First off, we need to install SLED10SP1. SLED10, being a Novell distribution meant for the enterprise, is not hosted by the community. In other words, you won’t find SLED10 on http://en.opensuse.org. This also means that you don’t get SLED specific instructions on how to get SLED10 onto the Eee PC like what is available with openSUSE 10.3.

With a USB Thumb Drive

I had originally wanted to install SLED10 from a bootable USB thumb drive. I had thought that the instructions from http://en.opensuse.org/SuSE_install_from_USB_drive could be modified slightly to apply on SLED10 SP1. Somehow, that did not work. I’m still trying to figure that out. Although I could use an external USB DVD drive as the installation source, I figured that it would be a lot more easier and more convenient to install from a USB stick than a big external optical drive and a DVD.

The problem I faced is that in the step where I had to make the USB stick a bootable one with the command

mksusebootdisk --32 --partition /dev/sdb1 /mnt/tmp

The system seemed to get stuck at this step. Of course I had done the necessary checks (unmounted the thumb drive, right device letter, etc) to make sure that every step is correct. Yet the system is still stuck.

What I don’t know is if the steps work on a ISO image only. My feeling is a ‘no’, but I’m not sure. I’ve posted help on the SUSE mailing list to see if there is anyone with any insight as to what might be the case.

It seems that the steps outlined in the openSUSE wiki has to be followed somewhat in sequence. On my laptop, to get the USB stick working as a bootable installation source, the file system on the thumb drive has to be recreated. In other words, you need to do the following (assuming that your USB stick when plugged into the system is recognised as /dev/sdb):

1 . Ensure that the partition on the thumb drive is a FAT32 partition. You can do this with:

fdisk -l

The output should show something like:

/dev/sdb1    *    1    976    7839698    b    W95 FAT32

It seems that it doesn’t matter if the partition is W95 FAT32 or W95 FAT32 (LBA). If you don’t have a partition on the drive, create it with the fdisk command.

Next step is to unmount the partition and create the FAT32 file system on it.

umount /dev/sdb1
mkfs.vfat -F 32 /dev/sdb1

You can check the integrity of the file system using:

fsck.vfat /dev/sdb1

To fix the file system if there is an error, use the -a switch with fsck.vfat.

The next step is to mount the USB drive and copy the files of the installation disc (DVD) to the thumb drive. (Assume the disc is mounted on /media/sled10sp1)

mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt
cp -R /media/sled10sp1/* /mnt

This can take some time to complete.

Once the above is done, you need to unmount the thumb drive so that you can execute the command to make it into a boot disk. Take note that if your installation source is the installation disc, you can use it directly (I assume that it is mounted on /media/sled10sp1). If you are using the ISO file, you need to mount it first, which I’ll also assume is mounted on /media/sled10sp1 as well.

umount /dev/sdb1
mksusebootdisk --32 --partition /dev/sdb1 /media/sled10sp1

This should make the USB stick bootable as an installation medium.

Starting the Installation on the Eee PC

After the installation disk is created, you have to make the Eee PC boot off the USB stick.

My first attempt at this resulted in an ncurses interface. I think the installation files have to be tweaked to make the installation process read from the USB stick instead of the optical drive.

I have not found out how to do this. When I have, I’ll update it in the next post.

Tags: linux eeepc
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