[lug] LILO and L :}

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Mon Feb 19 23:07:19 MST 2001

On Mon, Feb 19, 2001 at 09:47:34PM -0700, John Starkey wrote:
> Ok. So I've faced this enough to get perturbed now :}
> When installing occassionally I end up with the "L" instead of LILO.
> Based on previous conversations it appears to be that my mbr is outside
> ot the 1024. How can I put it back in?
> Also when using Linux Rescue off the boot cd how do i get fdisk to
> access /dev/hda. It keeps telling me /dev/hda can't be accessed.

Getting it back inside the limit may be difficult now that the machine's
up and going.

Having to guess here, but you have a large / partition that crosses the
boundary, right?

There are some ways to fix this -- first you may want to see if newer
versions of Lilo exist for your distro of choice.  It is my
understanding that at least on some hardware, newer versions of Lilo can
deal with the boundary better.  (It's really a BIOS limitation but
newer versions of Lilo have interesting ways to try to avoid the

Another possiblity is Grub, which is a different bootloader, and I've
heard mixed stories about it.  Some people swear by it, others hate it.
Typical of most software in general, I guess.  I have heard, but have no
personal experience with it, that it can boot things all over the
physical disk.  If you like to tinker, it might be worth a try.

Now I'm a more brute-force person and if the machine needs to be fixed
in place, I'd be trying to move / over a bit and make a /boot partition
up at the front of the drive.  But doing this can be awfully tricky, and
recommending it here isn't probably the best idea without knowing a
whole lot more about your setup.  (Things like do you have any space
free on the disk, how much space is used, etc etc etc...)  There are
Linux-based ext2 resizing programs you could use to accomplish this, but
you'd have to be booted from other media (like one of the specially made
rescuedisk distros) that has those tools on it to do that.

As a way to avoid this, I've gotten in the habit of always creating a
small /boot partition up at the front of the drive on every machine I
build.  Then for "junk" workstations or machines I don't care about...
everything in /.  For servers or machines that need to be more
"traditional" about their setup, I make appropriate paritions of the
correct sizes for the various filesystems.  Another habit I've gotten
into is if there is ample space available on the disk and no
readily-available tape backup device or other hard disks, I usually try
to leave a partition as large as the largest partition on the disk as
freespace.  Then later if I realize that I need to mess with a
partition, a simple "dd" and I have a backup -- and if the machine ends
up in production doing more useful things than originally intended, I
have more space I can use later.  A little cushion.

Just some thoughts, hope they're helpful.

If you're wanting to go the route of resizing partitions, you may want
to look at the GNU parted project's bootdisks available at:


However, proceed with caution!

Here's some links to stuff that may be useful for others reading this...
I like mini-distributions, and here's a few links to some of them:

tomsrtbt - http://www.toms.net/rb/
yard - http://www.croftj.net/~fawcett/yard/
mulinux - http://sunsite.dk/mulinux/

one list (of many) of small linux systems - 

There's a ton more, but in just looking up these I got sidetracked into
remembering a project I've been meaning to get started for a while with
one of these mini-distos...

Nate Duehr <nate at natetech.com>

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