Mark pointed me to Thix, yet another free Unix clone for 80x86 based machines. This one was written back in '94 or so and it looks like it's self-hosting, which is good. It doesn't support networking, which is bad (but not that bad). It looks like it'll run fine on a small system, which is good. But the installation disk doesn't contain a program to make the filesystem, which is bad (and that's bad).
This makes the current installations of Linux trivially easy by comparrison.
The setup assumes you have Linux already installed on another partition and can run the mktfs program from Linux. Ha ha. That's a good one.
I took a look at the source code to mktfs (good thing this is an Open Source ™ project) to see how the filesystem is laid out and thinking I could write a quick assembly hack to create the filesystem, dump the program to a floppy so that it executes when booted and go from there.
I then got the idea to hack mktfs itself to read/write to an image file. My thought—instead of having it write to a device, just have it act on a file, then dump that image to the harddrive.
Hack hack hack debug debug debug ah good. Compress the image, dump to floppy, move over to the lap top, extract from floppy and decompress onto the appropriate partition, reboot and …
Next up … hack up the TFS version of fsck, run that on the image file, and try again.
Well … something's wrotten in the state of Denmark. It seems the author keeps mixing up if he has his units in blocks or bytes.
Or it could be that it's so crocked up it can't be fixed …