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Install linux without cd, floppy, usb boot, pxe, previous OS

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November 28, 2009 2:33:44 PM

Hello to everyone,

I am new to linux and I want to move to this system after bad experiences with windows.
I have also a particular problem. An old laptop is probably able to handle just linux at this point of its life.

The cdrom is gone, the bios doesn't have usb boot support, there is no floppy or pxe network boot ability, so I was wondering what other way I can have to install linux on a barebone hd (nothing on it).

The only Idea I had was to copy some files on the hd via a ide cable adapter, connecting the laptop hd to the mobo of a desktop. I did the same in the past to install xp: I used msdos 7 to boot the machine and then launch the xp setup from withing the hd (copied before the installation files).

So my question is, can I do the same with linux? in such case, of course I will have a hd formatted with fat32 to boot in msdos, and what files should I copy on this partition to launch the installation?

If this is not the best path to follow and some guru here can advise me a better way I am looking for his helps. I look on the net but everywhere at least they require a previous operative system on it or some kind of boot support (usb, cdrom, floppy...)

Thanks again
a b 5 Linux
November 28, 2009 3:51:41 PM

What are your full specs?

You ought to be able to install on the desktop from a Linux cd or dvd then move the drive back to the laptop.

Good luck :) 
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November 28, 2009 4:27:00 PM

it's a simple laptop 40gb eide 2.5 hd, 512 mb, pentium 4 2.6gh

so I have a case usb or a eide cable therefore I can connect the hd to a desktop and use it as secondary hd.

should I perform the installation from within windows environment, and select this secondary hd as destination drive?

but my question is, how the boot will be handled when I put back the hd on the laptop? I mean, I am formatting all the laptop hd (which in windows will be a secondary hd, something like E: F:...) as extended partition, so how the mbr and a boot will be configured? Of course for linux that would be always a secondary hd attached to a desktop therefore it will configure a dual boot for this machine (desktop) with windows on the primary hd and linux on this secondary hd (the temporary laptop one) overriding the mbr of my desktop..

sorry for the silly question but I am not so familiar with linux installation requirements
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a b 5 Linux
November 28, 2009 5:36:42 PM

You need to boot from a Linux cd or dvd on the desktop and follow the prompts to install onto the 2.5" drive.

There will be no drive letters and no extended partitions just select the default layout and the installer will do the rest for you. You don't need windows for this.

You should disconnect your desktop's hard drives to make sure you don't accidentally install on the wrong drive and that your bootloader is properly installed on the 2.5" drive.

Your p4 is x86_32 so make sure you use an i386 / i586 / i686 distribution you cannot use x86_64.

Fedora 11/12 or Ubuntu dekstop 9.04 or 9.10 i386 should work well, although 512MB is not a lot of RAM.

http://www.fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora

http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download

Good luck :) 
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December 8, 2009 4:44:44 PM

One thing I've done in the past for a similar situation is put the installation files on the network, and use a fully automated kickstart file. So when you put the drive back in the laptop, it will boot up and do an automated installation off the network (not booting to PXE). You could modify this a bit and put the kickstart on the network so you can edit it in between boots in case you need to modify anything. So the kernel would boot up on the laptop drive and point to say http://myserver.home.lab/ks.cfg. This ks.cfg specifies where the installation files are (either local on the HD or on the network), and you can change it on the fly.

You can also try grub4dos if you already have Windows on it, here's an article explaining it: http://www.instantfundas.com/2007/08/install-any-linux-...
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