Subject: Re: Installing on notebook without a floppy nor CD-ROM?
To: Martin Husemann <>
From: Brian de Alwis <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 06/18/2001 16:40:40
Ahh... That is just too cool. I didn't quite get it at first, and
had to hunt to piece this together. I'll summarize it here, in case
anybody else is interested:

1. The install kernels are built with a ram-disk image. This image
   is populated with the install's root filesystem. When the kernel
   has booted, it mounts this image as the ram-disk.

   This is done using mdsetimage; take a look in .../distrib/<arch>/...
   for details. I could have done this, but I wanted to avoid building
   a new image, etc.

2. The install floppies are really a tar image spread across multiple
   disks. The first file is the booter, which pieces together the tar
   file fragments, and then extracts the kernel and boots it.

3. So, a simple method is to manually extract the fragments and piece
   together the tar file. This e-mail from Hubert Feyrer detailed
   one solution:

4. Having extracted the kernel, you then use to boot it.
   And presto, you are booting the installation floppy.

A very cool hack.

On 2001.06.18 23:42:37 +0200, Martin Husemann wrote:
> > IBM Canada is currently offering a good deal on a tiny notepad,
> > the X20 11U.  They come pre-installed with Win98, but have neither
> > a floppy nor CD-ROM. Seeing as I would really only need them to
> > install NetBSD, I wondered if anybody had any tips on doing a network
> > install from Windows/DOS. Is it possible?
> It's easy:
> Use Win98 to transfer a boot kernel with ramdisk immage (i.e. nearly the same
> thing as the two bootfloppy images we now use for floppy based installs) and
> transfer it to your local disk. Fetch "" as well. Reboot, hit F8
> at the right moment, goto "save mode, command line only w/o network" and
> use dosboot to boot the install kernel.
> Martin

"Source code in files. How quaint." - Kent Beck
"Maybe this world is another planet's Hell." - Aldous Huxley