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(?) The Answer Guy (!)

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
LinuxCare, http://www.linuxcare.com/

(?) Boot Stops at LI

From pha17 on Wed, 07 Jun 2000

My linux computer freezes when i try to boot, it just says " LI " then hangs.

I have got into the system with a boot disk and checked the lilo.conf file and run lilo which returns " Added Linux * " but lilo still will not boot

Can you tell be whats wrong ?

(!) In the documentation for LILO there is a description of this problem. The LILO boot loader prints each of the characters: "L ... I ... L ... O" (LILO) at a different point in the processs of reading/parsing the partition table, loading the secondary boot loader code, locating and loading its maps (which it uses to locate and load kernels and optionally a initial ram disk --- initrd--- images).
When the system stops at LI then that tells you that the process failed before it could reach the part of that sequence where it would have printed the second "L".
Usually this means that you have a mismatch in the way that LILO and the BIOS are trying to access specific parts of a drive. One may be using CHS (cylinder, head, sector) co-ordinates while the other might be expecting LBA (linear block address) offsets. So, try adding the "linear" directive to the global section of your /etc/lilo.conf (and re-running the /sbin/lilo command to build and install a new boot loader from that conf file, of course).
Alternatively, try changing your PCs CMOS Setup options. Look for an option like "LBA" or "UDMA" mode and disable it. Note that this may not work with newer large capacity drives.
Search the back issues of LG on the term "LILO" for many other discussions of this sort of issue and explanations about what LBA and CHS mean, and some commentary on the historical reasons why IDE has evolved through all these EIDE, LBA, UDMA iterations.
Also note that it's still a good idea to make a small (16 - 32 Mb) "boot" partition at or near the beginning of any hard drive on which you install Linux. That should be entirely below the 1024 cylinder line. Newer versions of LILO can work around that infamous limit in most cases --- but it's still a good idea. Most people mount this partiton on /boot. It is the best place to put your kernels, initrd images, and their System.map files. (If you have MS-DOS or some other Microsoft OS installed in a large partition at the beginning of a drive, such that you can't put a small partition below cylinder 1024, consider using LOADLIN.EXE instead of LILO).
It may also be a good time to look at GRUB (the GNU grand unified bootloader). I haven't played with this yet; but I've heard that some people are very happy with it.
You can find out more about GRUB at its home page on the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) web pages:

Copyright © 2000, James T. Dennis
Published in The Linux Gazette Issue 55 July 2000
HTML transformation by Heather Stern of Tuxtops, Inc., http://www.tuxtops.com/

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