This write up describes how to install Debian on Colinux on a windows based OS. After you will need to install the netrek server. I have tested this and it shows to be a good method to run the latest Vanilla server binaries on a Windows based computer. Sorry for the delay, the write up has been available for some time, but there are revisions that have not yet been incorporated. Some time in the future, I should rewrite, update colinx wiki, and place in netrek darcs for the most up to date versions of colinux and netrek server. Since this version describes the older config.xml configuration file format, using the newer format will takes some careful considerations, but is possible, as I have done already. 


Short Goal : install a working Debian sarge/etch image from scratch, with a rather easy to use installer.

Get a businesscard ISO Debian

(NOTE: These instructions were done with sarge on 6 Oct 2004, but should work for any Linux ISO. Installed for Etch on 21 Sept 2007 using debian-40r1-i386-businesscard.iso with some modifications as noted below.)

Using daemon tools ( to mount the image or an archiver program ( to extract files get initrd.gz out of \install on the CD. Extract initrd from initrd.gz and place it in a directory with your filesystems. (NOTE: The file may be in \boot or another dir if you're using a different distro, but will still be named initrd.gz)
Start with a configuration similar to this (this assumes root.fs is a blank ext3 formatted filesystem file):
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <block_device index="0" path="\[[DosDevices]]\D:\Downloads\[[coLinux]]\root.fs" enabled="true" />
    <block_device index="1" path="\[[DosDevices]]\D:\Downloads\[[coLinux]]\swap.fs" enabled="true" />
    <block_device index="2" path="\[[DosDevices]]\D:\Downloads\[[coLinux]]\sarge-i386-businesscard.iso" enabled="true" />
    <block_device index="3" path="\[[DosDevices]]\D:\Downloads\[[coLinux]]\initrd" enabled="true" />
    <initrd path="initrd.gz" />
    <image path="vmlinux" />
    <memory size="128" />
    <network index="0" type="bridged" name="Local" />

Boot colinux normally and wait for the installer to load. Choose to manually find CD. Choose "None" for CD ROM driver, then choose "/dev/cobd/2" for path. This should get you up to "No partitionable media is found". Press Alt+F2, then Enter.
mkdir /target
mount /dev/cobd/0 /target
cd /target
(this will "lock" this directory as mounted no matter what the partition step tries to do) Press Alt+F1, choose to continue install anyway. (50 Mb will be downloaded) Installing kernel then errors out, choose continue anyway. (choose a 2.6 something, related to your CPU of course) Don't install LILO or GRUB, choose finalize installation. There will be a few errors, choose continue anyway. Start a shell, edit /target/etc/fstab with nano and change it as so:
/dev/cobd0      /       ext3    defaults        1       1
/dev/cobd1      none    swap    sw              0       0
then make some coLinux block devices :
cd /target/dev
mknod cobd0 b 117 0
mknod cobd1 b 117 1
mknod cobd2 b 117 2
mknod cobd3 b 117 3
and reboot. Change your configuration to boot from cobd0 like so:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <block_device index="0" path="\[[DosDevices]]\D:\Downloads\[[coLinux]]\root.fs" enabled="true" />
    <block_device index="1" path="\[[DosDevices]]\D:\Downloads\[[coLinux]]\swap.fs" enabled="true" />
    <initrd path="initrd.gz" />
    <image path="vmlinux" />
    <memory size="128" />
    <network index="0" type="bridged" name="Local" />
Boot, login as root,
apt-get update
apt-get install module-init-tools
reboot (just for good measure)
Should be at a fully working (yet minimal) debian install! don't forget to adjust your network configuration (like /etc/resolv.conf) and run apt-get clean to get rid of about 50 Mb you just downloaded.
[edit] History
originally written by <SKroWL> (very nice job), later updated with link to woody and edited for clarity.
checked and validated by <Gniarf>, using snapshot 0622 and this Debian Sarge installer :
[edit] Further notes
<Gniarf> The <initrd> section is not strictly necessary, I didn't had one.
<Gniarf> if you can't make the network work, I guess you can use the sarge-i386-netinst.iso instead. not tried yet.
<OscarUsifer> For Etch, you'll need to remove the /dev/mem, /dev/kmem and /dev/core, then recreate the nodes with device node 1:3 (same as /dev/null) using the same mknod command mentioned earlier at the install step as noted above in virtual console 1 (vc1). You can observe the install progress in vc3 & vc4.

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: ". ." <msucka0xff at>
> To: "Netrek Development Mailing List" <netrek-dev at>
> Subject: Re: [netrek-dev] VMware or Qemu image of Netrek Server Vanilla	2.12.1
> Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2007 09:42:22 -0800
> Folks, Hmm good idea, I'll do a write up as well. It was very tricky to
> get it installed from the business card iso, but the results are really
> good I believe. In conjunction with cygwin's X11, it's possible to ssh -X
> to the debian Colinux install (from windows cygwin), and run X apps, so
> if the netrek server had console X/TCL app controls, one could access it.
> Actually my image when all is installed correctly is 553M, which could
> prob be reduced if desired, and when gz/bzipped it would be smaller in
> case Bob or Quozl thought it useful to host on This is
> really an ideal situation, e.g. running the netrek server as a native
> Linux app on Windows, and I feel this is a good situation given the
> alternatives e.g. porting to cygwin, or windows. Esp when the server goes
> through revisions, it can more directly be patched. -bd
>    ----- Original Message -----
>    From: "James Cameron"
>    Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2007 22:02:47 +1000
>    I've written up the process to create a Debian based virtual
>    appliance
>    for a Netrek Server, placing it in
>    docs/README.debian-virtual-appliance
>    in my repository, and attached.
>    Unlike the previous post, this image is a mere 127Mb. ;-)
>    One based on OpenWrt x86 should be about 3Mb. There's a lot of cruft
>    in
>    a standard Debian install.
> --
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