Linux install tweaks for MCA

Content by Christian Hansen (original HERE). Modified by Major Tom.
Note: Most local files linked from these pages are missing unfortunately.


Your situation: The Linux distribution at hand, do not support the hardware of your MCA based machine.
The remedy: Try a tweaked kernel, before throwing the distro away.

In most cases, when Red Hat, and other distributions of Linux, say that they do not support MCA based machines, they are in fact referring to the core part of the operating system dealing with hardware, aka the kernel. When it comes to the application part, such as the Apache webserver etcetera, that is: All the funcionality Linux software provides around hardware and kernel - it will most probably work, if you can smuggle in a MCA supporting kernel between your hardware and the rest of the distro.
Metaphorically speaking: Suppose you have a DOS installation; COMMAND.COM, MSCDEX.EXE, and every other file is ok, but you have a rotten Io.sys, which prevents your machine from coming up. Getting a suitable Io.sys would make your machine work.
There is of course more to it than that, but we won't scare you off with a ton of technical stuff right now.

Before you throw yourself into this, check the links below. Maybe someone made a ready to go install diskette for your distro.

The enterprise of smuggling a MCA kernel in between your hardware and distro, can be broken down into four elements:

1 Figuring out, how your install diskette looks like.
There is an easy approach to fix the installation diskette, if your distro has a DOS filesystem and a separate bootloader.

2 Figuring out your needs, and choosing a kernel
At least the kernel should support your floppy and diskcontrollers, to get anything off the ground.
The easy way of kernelreplacement using regular Windows - Dos copy functionality.

3 Modification of installation diskette. Still working on it
Getting out of the catch 22, and doing the replacement form a running Linux system.

4 Postinstall modification of system boot
Putting the kernel on your harddrive, and telling Linux how to boot.

When you have come this far, you should have your distro installed. This is not the same thing, as having everything set up as you would want it. You might for instance have a bloated kernel with a lot of stuff you really don't need, and lacking something you need. But it is as far as this page goes. Have fun.


Links to other sites with Linux MCA specifics

Ready made install floppies for Red Hat 6.0. I made those myself :-)

Red Hat 6.1. Avoid like the plague, MCA and otherwise. They introduced a new language for the install procedure, and didn't got it right.

Ready made install floppies for Suse 6.4 and Red Hat 6.2.

Ready made install floppies for SuSe 6.0, 6.1, 6.3. (This is also where mca scsi is maintained!)

If your distro did not support MCA, you can not rely a 100 pct on the source code it dumped on your hard drive during install. If you want to make your own customised post install kernel, begin a good source tree here. A quick note on device drivers. It is quite common, that MCA adapters use the drivers of their ISA cousins, with slight modifications. When you build a new kernel, don't dispair if you can't find your device in *make menuconfig* Try and figure out what the ISA equivalent is. Some instances are: The Adaptec 1640 SCSI controller uses the 1542 driver, 3Com529 uses the 3C509 driver, something equal with BusLogic.

Su Wadlow has done some major surgery, including how to make your own kernel.

Don P has something on the PS/2 E, not to speak of calculating modelines, when you get into XFree GUI.

Alfred Arnold did something on drivers for ethernet cards. I am not quite shure if it all went into mainstram source or when. At least you got a link. AA also did a performance test of various ethers.

Token Ring central point.

If you didn't find the socalled official MCA Linux homepage in one of the above, Click here. There is also a news group in html though.

This link is really not MCA specific, but I couldn't help it. For highbrows on making NAT, and actually hard to find out there - uncovered ground, mostly left to Cisco hardware.

There is probably much more out there.


Last update 11. feb 2001

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