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superdeez
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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 7:40 pm    Post subject: LiveCD and old Dell Dimension Reply with quote

This is purely a question of curiocity.

I was recently given two old Dell Pentium 4s and I decided to use one to replace my current router. Since one already had a decent amount of RAM, I decided to try and begin a Gentoo install on it but I found something I've never seen before, the LiveCD won't boot. I tried various discs and ensured my current disc would work in other machines. I even tried a couple of other liveboot media and the only linux CD I would get to work in the machine was a Debian install disc, whose version of tar wouldn't extract a Stage3 tarball.

Both computers are Dell Dimensions, the machine in question is a Dimension 2350, BIOS Revision A00. It would either HCF or it would display an ASCII mess on the screen and then HCF. I recognize this could be an issue with this machine, but it did boot that Debian CD along with an old Windows disc.

Think this is a bug or just something specific to this machine?

The CD boots on the other computer (a Dimension 4600) so that's what will get it, anybody else seen something like this?
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

superdeez,

Are the P4s 64 bit or 32 bit?
Both were made.

I know the Dimension 4600 is 64bit.

You may need a 32 bit CD.

Boot the Debian CD and look at /proc/cpuinfo does the flags line (one long wrapped line) contain lm ?
That means Long Machine ... or 64 bit. If that's missing the hardware is 32 bit only.
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superdeez
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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2019 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 4600 is 64 bit, that's good to know.

I booted that same CD promptly on a P3, so it should work on 32Bit machines. What's curious is it never even gave me the isolinux bootloader screen. As soon as it spins up the disk it goes down. I'll bring the 2350 back in from the other room when I get more time and confirm
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Jaglover
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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2019 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In case this is going to be a router only then there are quite interesting solutions, like pfSense and others, possible to run without hard drive, from flashcard. Maybe Gentoo is not optimal for this purpose?
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

superdeez,

Hopefully, this is ancient history but just in case ...

There are two standards for bootable CDs. In the original one, the bootable part had to be a 1.44MB bootable floppy image at the right location on the CD.
That method has long been superseded and nobody does it like that any more. However, if that's what your BIOS requires, it knows nothing of the newer way.

Not all CDROM drives (and I mean read only) can read CD-R or CD-RW. The reflectivites are lower than 'pressed' disks. Some will read some brands and not others.
This is only an issue if you are trying to use a CD read only drive. It never a problem for writers, or they might not be able to read their own writitng.

The drive might just be faulty too.
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NeddySeagoon

Computer users fall into two groups:-
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superdeez
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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2019 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon,

You may have hit the nail on the head. I even removed the two optical drives from that machine and replaced them with another known good drive, but perhaps that was it. One of the two drives was a CD-R or -RW, so that should have been able to read my burnt disk. I know Dell BIOSes have always had their qurks, maybe that is the case here. In any event, since the 4600 began to boot the CD, I'm just going to put that into router service. The 2350 had more RAM as it was and it also had all of the PCI slots open. It surprised me to see an aftermarket GPU and soundcart (and some other card) in the 4600 and then to see a measly 256MB of RAM. That wasn't much even when that thing was built! Hopefully the postman will have my RAM here over my weekend (which is actually in the week.)

Jaglover,

I remember the floppy booting firewalls that were popular in the 2000s (I used FreeSCO for several years in a K6-II back in the day) so it would make sense they have USB images now. I like to have a fully functional router though with NTP services and to be able to emerge --sync my boxes off of it, amongst others.
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Jaglover
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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2019 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You really didn't look at pfSense, did you? It can host and share portage for your LAN over NFS, and it can do much more.
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