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Install Slackware on a VPS based on Proxmox VE

Recently I've been faced with the challenge to install Slackware as a VPS at a hosting provider that had Proxmox VE as virtualization platform.

Proxmox VE is a complete open source virtualization management solution for servers. It is based on KVM virtualization and container-based virtualization and manages virtual machines, storage, virtualized networks, and HA Clustering. Further information is contained in the Proxmox Wiki.


Prerequisites

You must ask your hosting provider to add the Slackware install DVD ISO image to the virtual CD/DVD device of the virtual machine.

Also, you must have a local machine (either physical or virtual by other means) with a running copy of the same Slackware version that you will be installing on the Proxmox VE.

Preparing a custom initrd

On your own running Slackware installation (I've done this using Slackware64-14.1) you must prepare an initrd for your virtual server.

It is very simple, with mkinitrd tool.

# mkinitrd -m virtio_pci:virtio_mmio:virtio_balloon:virtio_blk -k 3.10.17 -f ext3 -r /dev/vda1

This creates an initial ramdisk (initrd.gz) with the virtio* modules, for booting a root partition /dev/vda1 formatted using etx3 filesystem.
Adjust according to your needs and use the same partition name and fs when you install your VM.

The resulting ramdisk will be here: /boot/initrd.gz Upload this file to a FTP or HTTP server so that it may be downloadable using wget. That server's IP address must be accessible to the hosted VM.
Remember, the Slackware installation disk has a minimum set of utilities.

Installation

Booting from the ISO image presents no problems.

After booting, as usual, start by partitioning the (virtual) disk. You will discover that instead of the usual sda or hda, you are presented with devices such as:

/dev/vda

Not to worry, it's the same as /dev/sda, but it is the source of several issues that need to be solved later.

Partition your disk, run setup and perform the installation.

Configuration

Upon configuring lilo, choose Advanced.
Simple lilo autoconfiguration defaults to /dev/sda and won't generate the proper lilo.conf.
Using *Advanced* you will manually tell lilo to install itself on dev/vda.
Configure the rest of the parameters as needed.

Installing lilo will fail due to unrecognized block device 0xfc00. Accept the error and proceed with the rest of the configuration process.

DO NOT REBOOT after the configuration process ends.

Exit the setup program and configure your networking.

# ip a add IP_ADDRESS/NETMASK dev eth0
# ip link set eth0 up
# ip ro add default via GATEWAY dev eth0

Go to the /boot directory of the installation and download the initrd.gz file

# cd /mnt/boot
# wget URL_TO_YOUR_SERVER/initrd.gz

Go to the /etc directory of your installation and edit lilo.conf

# cd /mnt/etc
# vi lilo.conf

Right under boot= add the following (without the comments):

disk=/dev/vda              # your disk device
bios=0x80                  # first disk according to BIOS
max-partitions=15          # as usual for SCSI disks, this refers to no. of disks
                           # on a controller, see man lilo.conf

Scroll down to where the bootable partition is configured and add below root = :

initrd = /boot/initrd.gz

Save and run lilo:

lilo -C lilo.conf

You will get some warnings, but it will work.

Now you can reboot your system.

Sources

  • Originally written by Andrei B.


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