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In order to install Slack/390 Linux you must boot (IPL) a small version of it from a tape or your z/VM virtual reader. The first file on that tape or in your virtual reader will be the Linux/390 installation kernel. After that will be the kernel parameter file, and then the initial ram disk that holds the root filesystem. Slack/390 Linux comes with several installation kernel files from which you must choose one.

If you are going to be IPLing from tape, you must select the tape installation kernel. If you are going to be IPLing from the z/VM virtual reader, you must select the VM installation kernel. If you use the incorrect one, you will most likely experience IPL errors. The kernel files are named so that it is clear which you should use.

IBM has published a Redbook on installing various Linux/390 distributions. While the details are different for each distribution, the basic steps are the same. You can find that book here: Linux for zSeries and S/390: Distributions, SG24-6264-00. We strongly recommend that you download it and read it. We'll re-cap the required steps here as well.

Creating The Boot (IPL) Medium
  1. Download the appropriate installation kernel, the sample parmfile, and the initial ramdisk (initrd) from the Slack/390 directory tree that corresponds to the version you are installing. For example, the unstable/development version (-current), would be at:

    See the "Get Slack/390" page for all the currently available versions.

  2. Customize the kernel parameter file to match your installation's requirements. This would include such things as your system's:
    • DASD device numbers
    • Host name
    • IP address
    • Network mask
    • Network interface type (CLAW, OSA-2, etc.) and device numbers
    • DNS servers
    • Etc.
  3. Write the installation kernel, parameter file, and initrd out to tape, or the z/VM virtual reader. If using tape, create an unlabeled tape, using a logical record length and blocksize of 1024 bytes. If using the z/VM virtual reader, the files must be 80-byte card images.

Booting (IPLing) the Starter System
IPL from the tape device, or the z/VM reader. Note that if the tape device control unit is being shared by another system or systems, that you will very likely have to attempt the IPL a number of times, due to the system's IPL code getting control unit busy indications, etc. This will obviously not be an issue in a z/VM guest, since the virtual reader won't have those sorts of errors.

Establishing the Network Connection
After you boot from tape or the virtual reader, you will be asked a number of questions about your network connection, unless you provided all that information in the kernel parameter file. If you did not, you will be prompted for your system's:
  • fully qualified domain name (FQDN)
  • network interface name (eth0, tr0, etc.)
  • channel device layer parameters for your network interface
  • IP address
  • network mask (netmask)
  • broadcast address
  • network address
  • default gateway IP address
  • DNS server(s) IP address(es)
  • DNS search domain(s)
If you are using a point-to-point connection, such as a CTC, ESCON channel, virtual CTC, or IUCV, you will also be prompted for the IP address of the "peer" on the other end of the connection.

After you provide the information, the system will attempt to activate the interface, and ping itself, the default gateway, and the DNS server(s).

Loading the DASD Device Drivers
If the network setup was successful, you will then be prompted for your DASD device numbers. You can allow the system to try to autodetect your DASD volumes, but this is not recommended.

You can specify the DASD device numbers as individual addresses, ranges of addresses, or a combination of both. For example:

  • 300,301,400,500
  • 300-301,400,500
  • 300-303,400-403,600

All this is a very good reason to specify all this information in the kernel parameter file, since this is just a prelude to actually doing anything to get software installed.

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