Installing from a CD-ROM drive is the simplest way to put Linux onto the computer; however, if the CD-ROM drive is not compatible with Linux, installation in this fashion is impossible.

All ATAPI CD-ROMs are supported by RedHat Linux; this includes the majority of most CD-ROMs installed in production-line computers such as Compaqs or Gateways, and most older CD-ROMs. If the manuals for the computer that is undergoing the install are available, check the documentation of the CD-ROM drive and make certain that it is either 100% compatible with ATAPI standards, or that it is one of the CD-ROM drives on the supported CD-ROM list that RedHat maintains.

Once Linux has been installed on the computer, it is possible that the CD-ROM drive will stop talking to the Linux OS. This occurred on Ariel, and is extremely inconvenient if the system administrator wants to install further RedHat RPMs from the CD-ROM.

Ariel's /mnt/cdrom directory registered as empty and neither mounted nor unmounted; these are the steps that caused it to read from the RedHat CD.

The problem apparently stems from the /etc/fstab file. This is the file that keeps track of your hard drives and other devices, and coordinates the devices (/dev/hd1, /dev/cdrom, etc) with the places they are mounted. The line in Ariel's fstab file read:

/dev/cdrom   /mnt/cdrom   iso9660   noauto,ro   00

The system apparently failed to register that the /dev/cdrom was an alias to the actual location of the CD-ROM. To figure out what the CD-ROM assignment should have been, I ran dmesg | less, and received a screen full of output which included these lines:

hda: WDC AC33100H, 3020MB w/128kB Cache, CHS=6136/16/63
ide0 at 0x1f0-0x1f7,0x3f6 on irq 14
Floppy drive(s): fd0 is 1.44M
FDC 0 is a post-1991 82077
md driver 0.36.3 MAX_MD_DEV=4, MAX_REAL=8
scsi : 0 hosts.
scsi : detected total.
Partition check:
 hda: hda1 hda2 < hda5 hda6 hda7 hda8 hda9 hda10 hda11 >
The system had installed the CD-ROM at hdb. Since the alias was not registering, the fstab file was edited to read:

/dev/hdb  /mnt/cdrom  iso9660  noauto,ro  00

Then, upon a restart of the computer, the system acknowledged that the CD-ROM was mounted, and was willing to talk to it.

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Created: May 12, 1999
Last updated: May 17, 1999