Unable to retrieve 2nd stage RAM disk and other woes

Diddling in the middle of the night on the old Power Macintosh 7100, on which it has long been my ambition to install an MkLinux distro and use it as a web server on the network.


Well, I have the MkLinux DR3 CD which I bought with the book a couple of years ago, and did get a 6100 running on it quite nicely--no X tho'--and the keyboard mapping was always a bit off, Anyway, I did manage to work through the first few chapters of the Unix Programming Environment, and felt wonderment at studying a computer book that was still current almost 20 years after it was first published. Anyway, the video card in the 6100 died, and I moved on to other things.

About a year ago, Mitch kindly donated the 7100 to my old Mac recycling project, and I've been using it as a second MacOS desktop machine. It's been quite handy in that role: my groaning SCSI chain hangs from it, and though Zip and Jaz drives are nearly obsolete, it's nice to have them available to help out a chum in a hard spot from time to time.

installing from the cd

Anyway, MkLinux is dual boot by definition, so I can still hang onto that for now. From the CD I installed BootX and the like, but the CD drive on the "new" machine seems a bit unreliable. It took me a while to suss out that the lilo.conf needs to be configured with the line /dev/scd0 to boot from the mklinux CD and begin the RedHat style install (doh!) but eventually I get there. (That's what that /dev/boot_device/mach_servers/bootstrap.conf line is trying to tell you, not very informatively)

Sooo. The kernel boots... Great excitement. But then hangs at "RAMDISK: compressed image found at block 0". Hmm.

Diddle a while, but this seems insoluble. Anyway, I'm searching the net and it looks like there's been a push to pull MkLinux together as part of the Debian effort for its version 3, so I think, hmm, maybe there's some new stuff.

And blow me there is.

Lo! A precompiled kernel said to be suitable for the 6/7/8100 NuBus Power Macintosh: so I download it, uncompress it, And lo! Network installation is an option. And yes, why am I paying for ADSL if I don't max it out with a 650 MB download from time to time...

attempted network install

So I diddle away preparing the 7100 for its new life with a U*ix style brain, name it parsley, give it its own class C private network IP address and so on. All is proceeding so smoothly, and I am getting those little internal giggles of glee when a long unsolved Linux problem seems finally to have become tractable...

But woe! Despite trying various download sites I can't get the next thing to happen. The install hangs with the message "Unable to retrieve the second stage ram disk". Well this is probably just me failing to find the right path incantation, but I'm not the only person who has had this problem. The people who responded directly to him had helpful suggestions to enable him to bypass the no-CD problem by mounting it on another machine on the LAN using NFS or FTP. The 7100 would be my third Linux machine on the LAN but sadly the other two don't have NFS or FTP up as a default, and working out how to configure this would probably take as long again as my network install.

Anyway, the clue was in this reply.

The installer prompt screen is misleading as it asks for the address of the ftp server, which is straightforward enough: I tried both ftp.mklinux.org and http://www.mirror.ac.uk/sites/ftp.mklinux.org/ (presumably a little closer to home). But it is the path that is the problem. The installer asks for the path to the RedHat directory, but in fact if you include "RedHat" in the path, you have, as it were, walked too far.

The path should end above RedHat, thus:


(it then continues

/RedHat/base/stage2.img, stage2.img being the actual file that is sought by the installer).

Now I suppose now I know what U*ix boffs mean by "to".

The base install seems a long old download at 115kb/s (HomeChoice's ADSL max, I know, I'm changing soon, but it was fun watching the Sopranos series one).


Anyway, I get to the point where I select the packages, choose "server lite" and all hell lets loose. A blue screen (where have I seen that before?) and lots of 8 byte hexadecimal numbers fly past for a couple of seconds (is this "octal"; I've always wondered) and a message that the kernel has panicked due to a kernel buffer overflow; the machine reboots after 180s.

But it's further into an MkLinux install than I've been for a while, and that's nice. Looks like I may have to sign up for their list and help them with kernel testing. Things are looking up. Maybe I'll go back and try one of the other kernels. But for now, the 7100 still doesn't boot into Linux.

DC very late, too late, at night, 10/7/02

Update: Tried the debian install kernel too: crashes when I attempt to initialise the swap partition 11/7/02. Ho hum!

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