the first week with mulinux

From: Dirk Heilemann (
Date: Tue Mar 19 2002 - 12:06:12 CET


I like to share the experience I made when installing mulinux. I hope it is
interesting for you long time users.
The goal was to put a small linux on a 486 harddisk and use it as a syslog
server for a couple of devices.

-- Getting the distibution
I got lost in the mirror structure - it's not quite clear where the ORIGINAL
site is located. There is a link to Aalborg University that is called
primary site, but there is only download stuff. But at least there is the
latest version. Some mirrors are not up to date, they say current version is
11 or even 7!

-- Getting help
There is a good documentation for the install and configuration part. This
was one of the reason I decided to use mulinux. But for special problems I
looked for the mailing list. The browsable list is nowhere to be found. I
had to order the list and get a lot of digest and old mails to solve
"simple" problems.

-- Creating the distribution disks
I used an existing linux to create the disks - easy going.

-- First boot
The system hung (reproducable) after configuring the addons. After some
testing I configured a swap partition and installed only root/boot/USR/ -
that solved the problem. The PC has only 8MB btw.

-- cloning to HD
I used an ext2 and a swap partition to clone mulinux. I got an error like
"can't find lilo" so I used loadlin to get ahead. With a tomsrtbt-disk I
created a lilo boot sector. But I mounted the partition read-only and
mulinux is not doing a remount.
In the second try I copied the lilo I found on the boot disk and used
"clone" again. It now created a working lilo boot.
This simple problem took me about one hour.

-- Confguring the system
Now, with everything on HD I started configuring the addons. This was
simple! Great!
Network, Keyboard, mouse, no problem.

-- first steps
I feel comfortable with the directory structure ... good.
Hmm, there is a user with password in the passwd, why that?
With anonymous ftp I saw my passwd with passwords... okay this is not a
security optimized distribution so let's check functionality.
Most commands work as expected except "more" and "tail". "more" wants
[enter] except [space] and doesn't know [q] and "tail" is not working at
I removed your ddate and fortune from profile... sorry, I like
understandable information.
X refused to run ("No valid modes found"). The XFree configuration with
modelines etc is not my thing.
But with help from the mailing list I used an old red hat 5.2 SVGA server.
That did it. Surprisingly I was able to connect to my Win2000 Notebook with
VNC as a client and a server without any futher configuring. Except for VNC,
which seems pretty slow on all computers, the speed is ok. I write this part
of the mail now remote on the old computer. Windows 2000 on a 8MB 486 - how
funny. Imagine a Citrix- or Terminalserver client for mulinux. You need only
a couple of MB diskspace for the complete client - you even could netboot
Anyway, this was just playing around - because I will never use X on this
machine - but it was fun.

-- Now to business
Syslog was simple to configure. It's the standard "syslog.conf" thing.
Now I play around with thhtp to display the syslogs via web. Everything is
so fast, that no one suspects a 33MHz CPU behind it.
If everything works fine I will configure filters for displaying different
kinds of information and (eMail) alerts...
Another goal is to integrate SNMP. I like to receive SNMP traps and send
Later I query the devices with snmp-get and -walk and display the infos on a
website. There is so much to do... :-)
Has anyone used SNMP on mulinux?

-- In total
I am very satisfied with mulinux. Thanks to everyone who put work in it! I
will try to support it by making suggestions and comments.

If the syslog/http server is working I will post more infos.

-- some suggestion for improvemets
- I miss ~ (=$HOME)
- for lazy typers: cd /e[tab] should expand to cd /etc/ (is now /etc).
- Tab completion looks only at the root. Pressing cd e[tab] anywhere
expands always to cd etc!
- a working "tail"
- a differnt "more"
- the system should boot a default profile at startup after x seconds. I can
not remote reboot the PC now!
- LILO: cloning fails because of the missing lilo (see above). And after
succesfully installing lilo the lilo.conf is gone. Please copy it to the HD
as well. Now lilo says "First boot sector doesn't have a valid LILO
- a installation from ftp/nfs to FD or HD


Dirk Heilemann

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