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When the system is booted, the BIOS reads sector 0 (known as the MBR - the Master Boot Record) from the first disk (or from floppy or CDROM), and jumps to the code found there - usually some bootstrap loader. These small bootstrap programs found there typically have no own disk drivers and use BIOS services. This means that a Linux kernel can only be booted when it is entirely located within the first 1024 cylinders, unless you both have a modern BIOS (a BIOS that supports the Extended INT13 functions), and a modern bootloader (a bootloader that uses these functions when available).
This problem (if it is a problem) is very easily solved: make sure that the kernel (and perhaps other files used during bootup, such as LILO map files) are located on a partition that is entirely contained in the first 1024 cylinders of a disk that the BIOS can access - probably this means the first or second disk.
Thus: create a small partition, say 10 MB large, so that there
is room for a handful of kernels, making sure that it is entirely
contained within the first 1024 cylinders of the first or second
disk. Mount it on
Most systems from 1998 or later will have a modern BIOS.
Executive summary: If you use LILO as boot loader, make sure you have
LILO version 21.4 or later. (It can be found at
Always use the
An invocation of
When the configuration file specifies
The boot loader and the BIOS must agree as to the disk geometry.
With LILO versions below v21 there is another disadvantage: the address conversion done at boot time has a bug: when c*H is 65536 or more, overflow occurs in the computation. For H larger than 64 this causes a stricter limit on c than the well-known c < 1024; for example, with H=255 and an old LILO one must have c < 258. (c=cylinder where kernel image lives, H=number of heads of disk)
Tim Williams writes: `I had my Linux partition within the first 1024 cylinders and still it wouldnt boot. First when I moved it below 1 GB did things work.' How can that be? Well, this was a SCSI disk with AHA2940UW controller which uses either H=64, S=32 (that is, cylinders of 1 MiB = 1.05 MB), or H=255, S=63 (that is, cylinders of 8.2 MB), depending on setup options in firmware and BIOS. No doubt the BIOS assumed the former, so that the 1024 cylinder limit was found at 1 GiB, while Linux used the latter and LILO thought that this limit was at 8.4 GB.
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