l i n u x - u s e r s - g r o u p - o f - d a v i s
Next Meeting:
September 2: Social gathering
Next Installfest:
Latest News:
Aug. 18: Discounts to "Velocity" in NY; come to tonight's "Photography" talk
Page last updated:
2003 May 22 13:40

The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox-tech mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

Report this post as spam:

(Enter your email address)
Re: [vox-tech] Conversion
[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [vox-tech] Conversion

On Thursday, May 22, 2003, at 10:52 AM, Mike Simons wrote:
On Mon, May 19, 2003 at 01:41:41PM -0700, Richard Crawford wrote:
Hypothetically speaking, how difficult would it be to switch an
RH box to Debian?  Assuming, of course, that all of the home
and downloaded extra software live on different partitions than

  This is easy ... as Gabe mentioned it can be done remotely.
Is it really? I've been having problems doing this myself, as I try to migrate a Gentoo system to Debian stable. The main problem is that I can't get the system to boot, and I think this is because I can't get mkinitrd to work. I followed the instructions in the Debian install guide (section 3.8 or so, I think), but started having problems with the kernel installation step. I get:

# apt-get install kernel-image-2.4.18-k6
<warning about initrd, telling me I need to configure my bootloader manually>
Setting up kernel-image-2.4.18-k6 (2.4.18-5) ...
/usr/sbin/mkinitrd: Cannot determine root file system
Failed to create initrd image.
dpkg: error processing kernel-image-2.4.18-k6 (--configure):
subprocess post-installation script returned error exit status 29
Errors were encountered while processing:
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

The key being "/usr/sbin/mkinitrd: Cannot determine root file system". Furthermore, if I try to spoon feed mkinitrd with:

# mkinitrd -o test.img -r /dev/hdb1 /lib/modules/2.4.18-k6

I get the same error.

I have noticed some curious things when I'm in the chroot environment. For one thing, /etc/mtab claims that /proc is the only mounted file system:

# cat /etc/mtab
proc /proc proc rw 0 0

And df has a similar view:

# df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
proc 1.1G 460M 616M 43% /proc

The curious thing is that it seems to think that the root filesystem is mounted under /proc; the used/available information is correct for the file system on the root device. Doing a "mount -a" doesn't change anything. My /etc/fstab looks like:

# file system mount point type options dump pass
/dev/hdb1 / ext2 defaults 1 1
/dev/hdb2 none swap sw 0 0
proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
/dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy auto noauto,rw,sync,user,exec 0 0

So... it seems to me that maybe something is wrong in the chroot? It seems that if this is the way things should be, it would be impossible to run mkinitrd from inside a chroot, in which case it would seem like for your initial boot you'd have to use a kernel that doesn't use initrd, but that hasn't come up in any of the documents I've read (including the Debian planet article that was mentioned earlier in this thread). Maybe I should try this on a RH system so I have a basis for comparison.

Ah, one more thing. I'm using Grub as my bootloader, as I'm keeping the Gentoo system around for the time being, and it's set up with Grub. My Grub entry for Debian looks like:

root (hd1,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.4.18-k6 root=/dev/hdb1 initrd=/boot/initrd.img-2.4.18-k6
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.4.18-k6

which I got from a newsgroup thread on booting a Debian kernel with initrd in some newsgroup somewhere. But I'm right in assuming that this won't work without a working initrd image, no? So far, every boot attempt I've made with the Debian kernel has resulted in a kernel panic because it can't mount the root file system.

Any idea what I'm doing wrong, or if maybe my Gentoo system is just sufficiently wonky that the chroot command doesn't work as it does elsewhere?


The main issue you should keep in mind is the various fancy Gnome and
KDE applications might not cope with the .config files in your home

If you have problems with any applications after the switch, you might
want to make a new user account and see if the new user has the same
problem. If they don't you should figure out which config file is a
problem, or just copy your data some place else... nuke the old home
directory and make a new one
deluser FOO; adduser
then more the data back...

GPG key: http://simons-clan.com/~msimons/gpg/msimons.asc
Fingerprint: 524D A726 77CB 62C9 4D56 8109 E10C 249F B7FA ACBE
Matt Holland
Population Biology Graduate Group
University of California
Davis, CA 95616

vox-tech mailing list

LUGOD Group on LinkedIn
Sign up for LUGOD event announcements
Your email address:
LUGOD Group on Facebook
'Like' LUGOD on Facebook:

Hosting provided by:
Sunset Systems
Sunset Systems offers preconfigured Linux systems, remote system administration and custom software development.

LUGOD: Linux Users' Group of Davis
PO Box 2082, Davis, CA 95617
Contact Us

LUGOD is a 501(c)7 non-profit organization
based in Davis, California
and serving the Sacramento area.
"Linux" is a trademark of Linus Torvalds.

Sponsored in part by:
O'Reilly and Associates
For numerous book donations.