Ask Shadowman

December 2003

Distinctly we remember, 'Twas in the bleak December, each desperate news group member wrought pleas of help upon his door. The door of he who is called by but one name, like Saruman or Starsky. He is... the Shadowman. Though he has no palid bust of Pallas, just above his chamber door, he's back- forevermore- to help those who would help themselves, if they only could.

Got a question that you'd like Shadowman to answer? Ask him.

Ronilo M, got a little stuckilo, then:
I'm a first time Red Hat linux user. I had intalled redhat 7.3 and it runs properly as a stand alone work station. My problem is I dont know how to reformat my hardisk. I tried to use startup98 to format my harddrive and it would reformat, but when I put my windows2k CD to the CDROM and configure BIOS for firstboot. The result was that I could not boot my CDROM and GRUB will appear for my screen. Please share your idea how can I reformat my harddisk.

Shadowman says:
Shadowman is unsure what you intend to do after you reformat, do you wish to install again? Dual boot? Surely after your stated success you couldn't have given up already. Let's save some time and say to try a newer version from Red Hat, just run an upgrade, to repair the existing install, you can run rescue mode.

But it sounds as though you've already successfully reformatted your drive Fat32 and it still wants to boot into Linux, so either you need to hit the BIOS prompt to get in and let it try and boot the CD first. But since you mention it's going to grub, you may want to fix that as well one of a few ways:

1) Your format may have succeeded, but the MBR still has grub in it. So, back on your startup98 floppy, try 'fdisk /mbr'
2) Your format may have failed, in which case letting grub boot will let you into Red Hat Linux again, and you can type 'fdisk [device name]'; then type 'o' and 'w' to blank and re-write the partition table. At which point you can re-partition within fdisk and reformat, or duck back to your other plans. Heck, you can even just alter grub to point to the new OS.
3) In the hope you are doing this to dual boot, check out: for the rest
4) Grab a copy of Fedora at, it's much keener than 7.3, and upgrade.

Bruce T, says 'rescue' me:
I am new to Red Hat Linux and I like what I see. I would like to use the Linux version of FDISK. It beats anything I have seen so far. I would like to make a Floppy disk that contains just enough of Linux to boot to a command line so I can run FDISK from any computer (IBM compatible) I stick the floppy in. I know I can use the CD's but I'm kinda lazy and want to use a floppy. Can you help?

Shadowman says:
You're lazy, so you decided you want to limit yourself on disk space? Shadowman suspects you may want to actually have something you can carry around easier than a full sized CD, since floppies will barely hold the kernel and initrd nowadays, let alone sneaking fdisk on there.

In the images directory or Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Fedora Core, you'll find an iso called rescuecd.iso

So if you're lazy, you'll burn that to a mini CD. If you're lazy but still want to look cool, you want the "business card" cd-r, which will fit in your badge holder or wallet nicely. Now, the rescue image is around 70M, and the business card media is around 60M so cash in some lazy for cool and you're still in business.

Before burning your image, you'll have to trim some space. So mount the image:

mount -o loop rescuecd.iso /mount/point
cd /mount/point
[For those wondering what the heck just happened, you can mount an image (.iso, .img, .etc) to your file system virtually on what's called a loopback. Adding '-o loop' tells it to do so.]

And remove some things from the stage2.img. How you ask? Well cp the stage2.img somewhere like your home dir Shadowman is currently running Fedora so it was in /mount/point/Fedora/base in this case), and unmount the rescuecd.iso, then mount stage2.img like:
mount -o loop stage2.img /mount/point
cd /mount/point
And remove tools you know you won't need. Then unmount the stage2.img, re-mount the rescuecd.iso, and cp the stage2.img back in, unmount that and burn it.

If you're really sure you want to put it on a floppy, because well, you're probably insane rather than lazy, you can *try* and mount the bootdisk.img, squeeze 70 to 80k more out of it (i.e. attempt to build a leaner kernel and initrd, and get fdisk on there *and* get it to not expect to boot into install or to your existing install and drop to a shell instead). You may find in Google that someone has done the latter already, but there's a greater liklihood of success and a guarantee of coolness in the former.

In short:

To Mantu P, who wants his mp3 Shadowman says:

Ravi K, who wants some DSL loving Shadowman says: Main Menu > System Settings > Network