Need something like basic linux

I need something like basic linux. No, not a basic version of linux, but basic linux, as in this:
http://www.volny.cz/basiclinux/

What this basically (heh) is, is a small version of linux that boots a compressed image from a dos prompt. I’ve been playing around with this on my target machine (basically a PC architecture with a 16 MB flash drive) and it works perfectly. My only problem is that basic linux is VERY OLD. I need something a bit more modern, specifically something with the real time patches that went into the linux kernel somewhere around 2.16.

Basic linux is very easy to customize. Since it is based off of slackware, you just need a slackware machine to pull files off of and shove them into the compressed image that basic linux uses as its file system.

Anyone know of a more modern version of embedded linux that is pretty close to this? I would love to poke through linux from scratch and build my own but that would take far too much time.

Maybe something like this?

http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/

The program that lets Linux boot from an MS-DOS prompt is called loadlin. Earlier editions of Linux in a Nutshell have some instructions on running it. If you’re looking for a relatively compact distribution you can load with loadlin, this linuxquestions.org thread has some useful ideas.

There’s also http://tinycorelinux.com/ I don’t know much about it other than it is a modern, lightweight linux install. It may have the features you’re interested in, but I’m not sure offhand.

That’s 50 MB, which may be damn small by modern standards, but I have 16 to work with.

Yep. I got the bright idea to try and replicate what basic linux did using a more modern distribution. I started with fedora and created a compressed image, but I could never get loadlin to even boot the kernel.

Then again, I’m not a linux weenie by any stretch of the imagination, so that may have all been pilot error. I was hoping for something right out of the box though.

I’ll read through your links and see if I can find anything useful. Thanks!

That looks promising. I’ll have to dig further. I didn’t see anything about disk space requirements yet.

I can boot a CD to install it, but the running version doesn’t have a CD drive, only the flash disk.

Whats the advantage to booting from the DOS prompt? Just o save space on the hard-drive? (since you can have windows decompress the file). Do no boot loaders allow you to boot from a compressed file?

The system currently boots to free dos, which is then used to boot a proprietary operating system (which then kills off free dos). By booting linux from free dos, I can add a switch to fall back to the old proprietary OS if needed, or I can download a new compressed linux image to essentially do a firmware update.

If I install linux directly on the flash drive, then it will be more difficult to do a firmware update to the machine.

ETA: There is no windows on this machine. It’s an embedded system designed to run in a harsh environment. It has a small disk on chip 16 MB flash drive built onto the motherboard, and no other disks (note - that’s MB, not GB).

To be absolutely sure: Do you mean 2.1.something or 2.6? It makes a huge difference.

Anyway, if you aren’t married to Linux, your options might open up a bit. That links to a large number of Linux- and BSD-based distros focused on being small but useful (for some definition of the terms).

Tiny SliTaz might be acceptable: It runs in 8MB of RAM, requires at least a 386SX, and fits on a 1.44 MB floppy. It comes with a 2.6-series kernel and you can pick whatever else you want by filling out forms on the website. (Pick which kernel you want and click ‘Continue’ to begin with, assuming you don’t have any configuration files of your own to upload to them. Should be easy from there.)

ttylinux is more of a pre-baked solution that fits in 8 MB of disk and needs 32 MB of RAM to install but runs in 28 MB. Comes with a 2.6-series kernel.

Sorry. 2.6.16. or somewhere around there - not sure off the top of my head - there are some real time scheduling patches that went in sometime around there.

ttylinux looks promising. I’ll take a closer look at it tomorrow.