The Linux-One-Disk-Svncviewer Floppy Disk (LODS)




If you are still interested in running a Linux distribution from a floppy disk, that can be used as a VNC client, take a look at the Linux NetStation project


I would not call this "News", it's more like stating the three year old facts: I don't maintain this package anymore. I don't have the time, and I also don't use VNC anymore. The package as distributed from this site is totally out of date. If you want a small Linux distribution that fits on one floppy disk, there are several packages out there. Use your favorite search engine and go looking for them. I don't follow these activities anymore, so I can not provide any more information.


I just moved from Germany to the US, and therefore I don't have much time to work on this project. Also, I left my 386/16MHz machine behind, which I used to test the configuration. I got some feedback through email, and I promise to incorporate the changes/fixes suggested by everybody. (This will be one of my new years resolutions, so I will probably forget about it five minutes into the new year :-).


I've modified the floppy image so that now the middle mouse button can be used with svncviewer. This is/was a problem with svgalib, but thanks to the Quake/Doom players on the Internet I found a solution for this: gpm can work as a "mouse repeater" so that it forwards all mouse signals to the fifo /dev/gpmdata. This fifo acts like a MouseSystems mouse. In order to use this feature you no longer have to modify the mouse device in libvga.con but instead you have to change the mouse device in hal91.ini: Look for the line that starts gpm and change the mouse type after the "-m" switch. To see a list of all valid mouse types just run gpm with an invalid mouse type (e.g. gpm -m help will do the job).

I've also made some space available by using bzip2 to compress the file add.tar. This allowed me to put joe (the editor) back on the floppy.

Where to Get the Software?

The LODS floppy disk is based on Hal91 by Øyvind Kolås. If you have any questions regarding how the system is working, how the floppy boots, how to compile your own kernel, ... please follow the link to the original Hal91 page and search there.

I have removed some programs form the original Hal91 floppy to make room for svncviewer and the svgalib files. This means there is no ppp support and no editor on the floppy disk anymore.

You can download the LODS image and write it to a formated floppy disk using
    dd if=PATH_AND_NAME_OF_IMAGE_FILE of=/dev/fd0

How To Configure the Software?

For all the following points you need to mount the floppy on a Linux machine. The file system on the floppy is umsdos. I do a
    mount /dev/fd0 /mnt
and the mount program takes care of everything else. I will use this mount point (/mnt) in all following examples.

First you have to find a kernel module for the network card driver you are going to use. The floppy disk comes with the following modules:

  • NE2000 and compatibles
  • 3c501
  • 3c503
  • 3c509
  • PLIP

All but the NE2000 drivers have already been on the disk when I downloaded it, so I can not tell you anything about how they were compiled and if they are indeed working. The NE2000 driver was compiled by myself and is working in both of my machines with two different NE2000 clones. - Looks like the 3c50X drivers are not working.

The kernel module must be from a 2.0.33 kernel. You have to compress the module you want to use and make the new filename 8+3 conform so that it will fit on a MSDOS filesystem. Copy the compressed module to /mnt/hal91/modules. If you look into the modules directory, you can see examples for possible file names.

Find out what parameters your driver module requires to load successfully. My NE2000 driver takes either no parameters (on my PCI bus machine) or a "io=0x300" on my old ISA bus machine.

In addition to this card related information you also need the network address of your machine, the hostname, the netmask, a gateway and of course the VNC server address and name.

All this will be used to modify the file /mnt/hal91/ Edit this file according to the comments in it.

Edit the files /mnt/hal91/libvga.con (the svgalib configuration file) and if necessary /mnt/hal91/libvga.et4 (the ET4000 register configuration).

I just assume that you are familiar with the svgalib setup and do not cover this here.

The keyboard mapping is my revenge for all the American programmers simply ignoring every country that uses some of these "funny characters"... :-)

... But I'll tell you how to change it: in /mnt/hal91/map.gz is the (gzipped) keyboard map the system will use. To replace it just gzip a map file from your system and copy it to the floppy disk.

That's pretty much it... Just umount the floppy and boot your svncterminal with it.

OK, I have to admit there is more to it: First of all: make sure that your svncterminal can handle the geometry of the vncserver. You may have to specify the -geometry and the -depth parameter for the server.

Also, when svncviewer exits, the terminal is in a strange mode. I have copied stty to the floppy so that you can do a "stty sane" after svncviewer exits - maybe I should put this all into a small shell script wrapper so that stty sane gets called every time the svncviewer runs... Make a mental note for the next release...

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me via email. My email address is

Last changed on Thu Jun 6 21:14:37 2002 Validated HTML 4.0
Karl Heinz Kremer