3.6. Pre-Installation Hardware and Operating System Setup

This section will walk you through pre-installation hardware setup, if any, that you will need to do prior to installing Debian. Generally, this involves checking and possibly changing firmware settings for your system. The “firmware” is the core software used by the hardware; it is most critically invoked during the bootstrap process (after power-up). Known hardware issues affecting the reliability of Debian GNU/Linux on your system are also highlighted.

3.6.1. BIOS Setup

In order to install Debian GNU/Linux on a S/390 or zSeries machine you have first boot a kernel into the system. The boot mechanism of this platform is inherently different to other ones, especially from PC-like systems: there are no floppy devices available at all. You will notice another big difference while you work with this platform: most (if not all) of the time you will work remote, with the help of some client session software like telnet, or a browser. This is due to that special system architecture where the 3215/3270 console is line-based instead of character-based.

Linux on this platform runs either natively on the bare machine, in a so-called LPAR (Logical Partition) or in a virtual machine supplied by the VM system. You can use a boot tape on all of those systems; you may use some other boot media, too, but those may not be generally available. For example, you can use the virtual card reader of a virtual machine, or boot from the HMC (Hardware Management Console) of an LPAR if the HMC and this option is available for you.

Before you actually perform an installation, you have to go over some design and preparation steps. IBM has made documentation available about the whole process, e.g. how to prepare an installation medium and how actually boot from that medium. Duplicating that information here is neither possible nor necessary. However, we will describe here which kind of Debian-specific data is needed and where do you find them. Based on both sources of information you have to prepare your machine and the installation medium and to perform a boot from it. When you see the welcome message in your client session join this document again for the Debian-specific installation steps.

3.6.2. Native and LPAR installations

Please refer to chapter 5 of the Linux for S/390 Redbook and chapter 3.2 of the Linux for IBM eServer zSeries and S/390: Distributions Redbook on how to set up an LPAR for Linux.

3.6.3. Installation as a VM guest

Please refer to chapter 6 of the Linux for S/390 Redbook and chapter 3.1 of the Linux for IBM eServer zSeries and S/390: Distributions Redbook on how to set up a VM guest for running Linux.

You need to copy all the files from the generic sub-directory to your CMS disk. Be sure to transfer kernel.debian and initrd.debian in binary mode with a fixed record length of 80 characters.

3.6.4. Setting up an installation server

If you don't have a connection to the Internet (either directly or via a web proxy) you need to create a local installation server that can be accessed from your S/390. This server keeps all the packages you want to install and must make them available using NFS, HTTP or FTP.

The installation server needs to copy the exact directory structure from any Debian GNU/Linux mirror but of only the s390 and architecture-independent files are required. You can also copy the contents of all installation CDs into such a directory tree.

3.6.5. Hardware Issues to Watch Out For More than 64 MB RAM

The Linux Kernel cannot always detect what amount of RAM you have. If this is the case please look at Section 5.2, “Boot Parameters”.