Converting a Linux installation to a Slackware one in an OVH Kimsufi server

November 27, 2022 by Roberto Puzzanghera 0 comments

This article explains how to convert a given Linux distribution to a Slackware one in an OVH kimsufi server.

It is inspired by the Slackware wiki page Install Slackware on an Dedibox BareMetal Server, which explains the same for a Dedibox BareMetal Server on

The plan is to

  1. install a Linux of your choice
  2. reboot in rescue mode that Linux distro
  3. download the Slackware initrd and prepare the install environment
  4. chroot into the Slackware initrd image
  5. partition and install Slackware over the existing Linux
  6. configure the fresh installed Slackware and reboot

Install a Linux distribution

Install a Linux distro of your choice, Debian 11 for example, selecting "Custom installation"

Install your OS in the first disk, avoiding to use the RAID mode. You have to set up at least the first partition (to mount as /) and possibly the swap space at this stage.

Grab your net parameters

Once the installation has finished, you will get the ssh login in your mailbox (debian@111.222.333.444). Connect via ssh and change user to root

> sudo su -

Take note of the net configuration (ip, gateway, name servers):

> ip r 
default via 111.222.333.254 dev enp3s0  
111.222.333.0/24 dev enp3s0 proto kernel scope link src 111.222.333.444

so our gateway is 111.222.333.254 and our ip is 111.222.333.444.

Browse your resolv.conf to copy the name servers' ip

> more /etc/resolv.conf  
nameserver 2001:41d0:3:163::1 

In rescue mode

Now reboot your server in rescue mode by clicking the "Netboot" button of the OVH's control panel and then "Rescue" in the following panel. Choose rescue64-pro:

Retrieve the userid and password from your email and connect via ssh.

Setting-up the Slackware installer environment

The Linux environment where we are living now has nothing to do with the Debian OS that we have installed earlier. You can mount your /dev/sda* partitions with your Debian installation if you like.

Now it's the time to prepare the Slackware installer setup:

mkdir -p ~/slackware-chroot 
cd ~/slackware-chroot 
xz -dc < initrd.img | cpio -i --make-directories 
mount --bind /proc proc 
mount --bind /sys sys 
mount --bind /dev dev 
mount --bind /dev/pts dev/pts 
mount --bind /run run 
touch etc/resolv.conf 
mount --bind /etc/resolv.conf etc/resolv.conf

Here we have pulled down a Slackware initrd image and decompressed it. Then we have mounted some suitable system directories. Mounting /etc/resolv.conf will provide DNS to the environment were we are going to chroot to run the setup program.


Now you can (re)partition your disk, or use the partition table that you have already created when installing Debian. You can edit the partition table with your favourite partitioning tool, e.g. fdisk, cfdisk, etc. in the usual way.

Download the packages

I prefer to download the required packages myself, instead of letting the setup program do it for me, because I want a minimal system. I have prepared a download shell script and a list of Slackware packages to be downloaded. The script let you choose the Slackware version, your favourite mirror and your package list file, were you have to put the packages to download one per line. The script is able to download also the packages from the patches folder.

mkdir -p ~/slackware-chroot
cd ~/slackware-chroot
chmod +x
# run the download program

The packages will be downloaded into ~/slackware-chroot/slackware${ARCH}-${VERSION}_pkg (which should be ~/slackware-chroot/slackware64-15.0_pkg). The directory is created by the program itself.

Install Slackware

Enter the Slackware chroot:

chroot ~/slackware-chroot /bin/bash --login cd 
export TERM=xterm 

Now that you have done the partitions and downloaded the Slackware packages (you have them in the /slackware64-15.0_pkg dir in your chroot environment) you can run the setup program and perform the installation as you have always done before. Just remember that:

  • if you downloaded the packages before, you have to point the setup to the /slackware64-15.0_pkg directory. Otherwise, let the installation program download and install them for you.
  • you don't have to reboot the machine at the end of the installation, as you still have to do a couple of configurations.

Configure the installed Slackware

You can look at the root filesystem of the freshly installed Slackware navigating to the /mnt directory, where it's still mounted after the installation.

You may also want to comment out the follwing lines in /etc/inittab:

#c1:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty --noclear 38400 tty1 linux 
#c2:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 tty2 linux 
#c3:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 tty3 linux 
#c4:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 tty4 linux 
#c5:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 tty5 linux 
#c6:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 tty6 linux 

and the following lines in /etc/securetty:


tty[1-6] are for the standard VT login prompts, but since we have no keyboard and no display, we cannot make any use of them.

Before rebooting, configure the SSH server as you like. I have just enabled the root login for the time being. I will disable it after the reboot, when the rsa key is in place. Edit your /etc/ssh/sshd_config file and uncomment this line:

PermitRootLogin yes

Now, go to the OVH control panel and select "netboot" again. You have to enable the boot from the hard disk:

Now reboot your machine and you are done.

This article is licensed under the following license: CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

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