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Chapter 750.   ZipSlack: a UMSDOS distribution


The name UMSDOS represents a Unix file system that is added to an existing Dos-FAT file system. This allows to manage in the same partition both a Dos (and connected) operating system and GNU/Linux. Actually, GNU/Linux uses the Dos directory C:\LINUX\.

The more common GNU/Linux distributions rarely allow to install GNU/Linux in a file system of this type. The reason is that this kind of installation is not very efficient and presents risks: a UMSDOS file system does not have the necessary features to guarantee a minimum security against the loss of data and a wrong power down may produce catastrophic results.

These problems, mainly due to the use of a FAT file system, are anyway known also in the Dos environment, so much so that the system of cache memory of (SMARTDRV.EXE (and similar) disks cannot use its full performance potential;, just to avoid security problems. However, the possibility of GNU/Linux to live together with Dos, allows to make test installations and to start studying this operating system.

The ZipSlack distribution is just a part of the normal Slackware distribution. It is essentially a ZIP archive, ready to be extracted in a Dos file system.

750.1   Installation

The installation of the ZipSlack distribution can be done either on a FAT16 file system, or on a FAT32. You need to have a program to extract ZIP archives under Dos. If you do not have this possibility, Info-ZIP can be found at: <>.

ZipSlack is actually composed by the zipslack/ file which can be found in the normal Slackware distribution. If we assume to have a CD-ROM containing the Slackware distribution, after inserting it in the device D:, we could proceed as follows:

C:> CD \[Enter]


The result should be a C:\LINUX\ directory, containing the UMSDOS file system of ZipSlack. If you prefer, you could even install ZipSlack in another Dos device; the important thing is that the extration should always done in a root directory of that device.

750.2   Start up

Within the \LINUX\ directory created as above, there is the program LOADLIN.EXE, the script LINUX.BAT and the kernel VMLINUZ. You can just start the script LINUX.BAT to obtain the eventual start up of the installed GNULINUX; system; but, before that, you must enter some changes in it.

In the script that runs LOADLIN.EXE, you should change the option that describes the partition within which the main file system is found. Actually, you should observe what appears as: root=/dev/.... You should enter the device corresponding to the Dos device within which the \LINUX\; directory exists. For instance, if it is found in the first partition of the first ATA (IDE) disk, you should write root=/dev/hda1.

Once the LINUX.BAT script has been set up correctly, you can just enter the command

C:\> \LINUX\LINUX[Enter]

to start GNU/Linux. However, it is important not to do that while you are working with MS-Windows: you should go back to Dos, or restart in Dos mode.

750.3   Configuration and tools

The configuration of this GNU/Linux system is almost completely manual, according to the tradition of the Slackware distribution. However there are netconfig to configure the network interface and pppconfig to configure a PPP connection over a switched line.

It is possible to install addtional software, by using the normal packages of the Slackware distribution. This can be done by using the installpkg script, in the same way used for the normal Slackware distribution.

Finally, ZipSlack can be used also when there is a reduced amount of central memory, by activating the virtual memory with the support of a file. This can be done by using the archive zipslack/, that can be extracted in the same way used for the main file and which makes available automatically a swap file for the virtual memory.

Appunti di informatica libera 2006.01.01 --- Copyright © 2000-2006 Daniele Giacomini -- <daniele (ad) swlibero·org>, <daniele·giacomini (ad) poste·it>

1) Translation last update on 2003.09.11 from Mario Pesce <mario (ad) datamission·co·uk>.

It should be possible to link to this page also with the name zipslack_a_umsdos_distribution.htm

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