I am trying to use VirtualBox or Bochs to create a Virtual machine that will run an old version of linux. I am unable to find a reasonable set of distro "floppy disk images" from the distributions of that era. Note that this era of Linux distributions does not provide CD install images, typically, and so there is no readily available ISO images for RedHat 1.0 or other similar linux systems.

I am looking for either (a) a complete set of .IMG files and perhaps instructions, or (b) any technique to create such a VM, using VirtualBox. In particular I want to emulate hardware that an ancient linux distro would run on (80386 PC, 500 Meg ATA hard disk, 32 megs ram).

  • I found this: ibiblio.org/pub/historic-linux/distributions – Warren P May 4 '12 at 2:33
  • in terms of floppy disk image installation... not sure if this might help emanuelis.eu/2010/09/30/…. Its meant for DOS installation but I reckon the floppy bit would be relevant. – Reuben L. May 4 '12 at 2:43
  • that's part of it. the trickiest bit is probably creating a BOCHS profile or low level tweaks to VirtualBox (stuff that you can't do with the GUI but you can probably do in text files) that emulates a 80386/80486 era DOS/Windows95/Linux1.0 era PC. – Warren P May 4 '12 at 2:45

I've managed to get a couple of early distributions from the historic-linux archive running under VirtualBox: Red Hat 1.1 (kernel 1.2.11) and Slackware 2 (Kernel 1.1.59). For both of them, I had to use the boot floppies from Red Hat 3.0.3 (kernel 1.2.13); with the earlier kernels, fdisk would fail with an error accessing /dev/hda.

Rather than install from floppy images, I created a separate partition on the emulated hard drive to act as the install image, and downloaded the entire distribution into it (using an existing VM).

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Try this: ftp://ftp.metalab.unc.edu/pub/historic-linux/distributions/

You can also contact red hat and others to see if they have archived even older versions somewhere.

Kernels are archived here: http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/

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  • I've got some disk images from there, but no way to install them since no PC virtualization software of the modern PC era can 'downgrade' its hardware and chipset enough to allow these to install. – Warren P May 4 '12 at 2:40
  • Try older copies of bochs. bochs.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/… – johnshen64 May 4 '12 at 2:48
  • I remember installing windows 95 on vmware workstation 2 or 3 and actually it worked. Have not tried floppy-based Linux install myself. – johnshen64 May 4 '12 at 2:50

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