Compiling programs for use with Freesco

This article contains some “link” rot

(Not to be attempted by amateurs)

Freesco is actually just Linux 2.0.38 with custom modifications and programs integrated, a custom configuration and custom-built setup tools.

Thus, to compile programs for Freesco, you need to be able to compile programs to a Linux 2.0.38 kernel. There are quite a few ways to get such a system running, but quite possibly the quickest is to use the ZipSlack Slackware 3.9 distribution and update the kernel to 2.0.38 (from 2.0.37).

You will need to download these files:

  • from slackware (a complete Linux distribution that contains a C compiler and a 2.0.37 kernel, able to boot itself from DOS mode and be

installed on a FAT hard drive.)

(the source code to the 2.0.38 kernel, needed to recompile the kernel and to compile programs specifically for that kernel.)

It's better to download the most up to date 2.0.39 FREESCO kernel sources from the FREESCO SourceForge page at

And, for the lazy:

(a pre-compiled 2.0.38 kernel file, copy into C:\LINUX)

(a startup file, edited to boot off of the first IDE hard disk, which is usually what C:\ is.) If you download these last files, you may skip any section marked by the banners:

Zipslack 3.9

This is a complete Linux distribution (minus X-Windows, although that can be easily added. Freesco does not have, use or support X-Windows, so there is little use for it anyway). This contains all the usual Linux tools, including the compilers and standard drivers, all in a 37Mb zip file.

Zipslack's strength, however, is that it can be installed very simply and easily and can co-exist with a Windows operating system, without the need to repartition or reformat your hard drive.

The files in the above link are:

Name Size
bootdisk.img 830 KB
fourmeg.README 3 KB 10 KB 37,268 KB

The only file that's necessary is Once you have downloaded this file, you then use a zip extraction tool, such as Winzip, Enzip, ZipMagic, PKZip etc. to extract it to the C:\ drive, in the root (i.e. not in any subdirectory).

Make sure you have any subdirectory options enabled in your extraction program. If done correctly, the extracted files should all be inside a C:\LINUX directory on your hard drive, except for one file —LINUX.— which should be in C:\

The space needed to extract this file is about 100Mb and you will need some more free space to allow you to compile. Another 100Mb should be fine.

Now you should download the following file:


and copy it into the C:\linux directory.

Next, we need to get into DOS. This can be done by shutting down Windows and selecting “Restart in MS-DOS mode” or by rebooting and pressing F8 at the “Starting Windows…” message until you get a menu appear. Selecting “Safe Mode Command Prompt” will get you into a DOS prompt.

Either way, once you are in DOS, indicated by a C:\> or C:\WINDOWS> prompt, type:


You should see the prompt change to C:\LINUX>

Advanced instructions

Now, you should edit the Linux.bat startup file to indicate the correct hard drive. Type:


You should now be in the MS-DOS text editor. Scroll down until you find the line that doesn't start with REM. By default, this is the example for running Linux off of a SCSI Zip drive. You should change this. Insert the word REM in front of this line.

If you are using IDE hard drives (or you don't know what you are using), scroll down and delete the word REM in front of the line:

rem \linux\loadlin \linux\vmlinuz root=/dev/hda1 rw 

Be very careful to get the right line as there are many similar ones. After this, the lines should read:

rem These examples are for an IDE hard drive:
\linux\loadlin \linux\vmlinuz root=/dev/hda1 rw

Exit the editor using the File… Exit menu.

End of Advanced instructions

If you are unsure of this part of the procedure, there is a pre-configured LINUX.BAT file that you can download. The easiest way to use this is to copy the file into the C:\LINUX directory from Windows before you go into DOS. Then, simply ignore the instructions above.

Now type:


You should see Linux start, indicated by lots of messages scrolling off the top of the screen. Eventually, you should reach a “login:” prompt. We will now login as root by typing root and pressing enter. You may be asked for a password. If so, type root and press enter again.

Now you should be in Linux. Good luck! You have all the standard Linux commands available, as well as the gcc C compiler.

Compiling the Kernel

Most programs can be compiled and then run correctly on Freesco without having the exact kernel version of Freesco. Anything that needs to compile a kernel module should really be compiled under the correct kernel.

To compile programs correctly for the new kernel, you need to install the contents of the linux-2.0.38.tar.gz file that you downloaded earlier. You may have noticed that Linux detected this file on bootup and renamed it (Linux allows much better filenames than Windows does, being case-sensitive for a start, and so has to use a different, incompatible system of naming files. Thus, it had to make the filename compatible.).

First, we should name it to a sensible name. Type:

cd /
mv linux-* linux-2.0.38.tar.gz

(Be careful of the case of commands now that you are in Linux). Now we need to move the file to the right place for extraction:

mv linux-2.0.38.tar.gz /usr/src 

Now we need to go follow after it:

cd /usr/src 

And now, to extract the file.

tar -xvzf linux-2.0.38.tar.gz 

Lots of filenames will whiz past. If it finishes with an error message, chances are you ran out of free disk space. Now we have the correct source code in place and just need to make the kernel.

Advanced instructions


cd linux 

Followed by:

make zImage

This may take some time, especially on an old computer! Be prepared to wait 20-30 minutes or even longer on anything under 300MHz. When it is finished, type:

cp /vmlinuz /vmlinuzbackup
mv ./arch/i386/boot/zImage /vmlinuz

End of Advanced instructions

If you don't wish to sit and compile the kernel for yourself, you can download the Linux 2.0.38 vmlinuz file that we've pre-compiled for you and copy it to the C:\LINUX directory from Windows before you go into DOS. You do still need to have extracted the kernel source code, though.

Now, you are all set to download programs, copy them into C:\LINUX, enter DOS, then Linux, then rename your files and set about compiling them.

Written by Lee Dowling “Ledow”

freesco/howtos/compiling_programs_for_use_with_freesco.txt (35002 views) · Last modified: 2009/02/03 17:06 by dingetje
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