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Linux - Laptop and Netbook Having a problem installing or configuring Linux on your laptop? Need help running Linux on your netbook? This forum is for you. This forum is for any topics relating to Linux and either traditional laptops or netbooks (such as the Asus EEE PC, Everex CloudBook or MSI Wind).

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Old 01-17-2006, 06:50 AM   #1
morrolan
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Installing Linux on old Dell laptop - broken CD drive, no floppy, no Ethernet.


Hi guys, what a challenge I have!

I need to install Linux on an old Dell laptop (don't have the spec with me, sorry, will update later with spec), that has a broken CD drive, no floppy, and no ethernet. It does have USB. Is there anything different that I need to take into account installing from a USB CDROM drive (if the BIOS allows) or should I try and boot a minimal system from say, a USB pen drive first and install from there?

Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
Old 01-17-2006, 11:12 AM   #2
Charred
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I have always found it easiest to pull the hard drive, put it in a different laptop (or get an adaptor and hook it up to a desktop), install Linux, return the drive to the original machine, then run any setup/installation scripts.

But that's just me, I do complicated things sometimes.
 
Old 01-17-2006, 11:25 AM   #3
Abomb
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Does it have a PCMCIA slot? You can probanly get a Debian netinstall to fit on a USB stick and then get a PCMCIA Nic and install the rest. That is if the installer can recognize the USB port. If you take out the hard drive you would have to make sure the laptops are identical. But then if it's old technology it should have support regardless. You could buy a new cd-rom. How 'old' are we talking about?
 
Old 01-18-2006, 06:25 AM   #4
morrolan
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It's an old Dell, 450Mhz Celeron, 128Mb RAM, 6Gb HDD.

Oh, and I tried last night - no boot from USB support in the BIOS either.

We have some small Dell Optiplex SX270's in work that use Modular laptop CD-ROM drives, so I'm thinking of bringing the drive from the Laptop in and seeing if they fit/match/compatible etc, because if so, I think I might have to "borrow" one overnight from work to get Linux installed.

For a net install, would I still have to somehow get a minimal bootable system onto the laptop first? In the BIOS is does support booting from an "APR NIC". Any ideas what the APR part is?

Do you think that spec will support Ubuntu (my preference, and where my knowledge really lies - the laptop isn't for me though) or something more lightweight like Vector Linux? It is just a general purpose machine, she listens to a little music, and types a lot as she's a budding writer.

She's just fed up with Windows Muppets Edition falling down on her every 20 minutes.

Last edited by morrolan; 01-18-2006 at 06:27 AM.
 
Old 01-18-2006, 07:24 AM   #5
alvez
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You should be able to boot from a PCMCIA HD or Compact Flash w/adapter - no external drivers required. I've got a couple old Dells at work and the BIOS in each includes "removable device" to accomodate this function.

You could then load a minimal installation (e.g. Debian); once you've got more drivers up and running, you could then upgrade to whatever distro you desire via USB.

I've just recently gone through a similar experience with my ancient Thinkpad 380.
 
Old 01-18-2006, 08:46 AM   #6
morrolan
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So the "APR NIC" thing should just be disregarded at this time? Does it only give the option to boot from external device once an external device is plugged in, as it still gave the option to boot from CD-ROM when the drive was taken out, and it wasn't there when I checked.

By the way, it's a Dell Inspiron 3800.
 
Old 01-18-2006, 11:39 AM   #7
alvez
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Rats... I believe I have led you astray. I just tried to boot both Dells (latitude 600 and latitude L400) - no joy. Even though the BIOS alleges that I can do this, it fails. I honestly though I had done it with one of these boxes in the past.
 
Old 01-19-2006, 04:42 AM   #8
Charred
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IIRC, network booting does not require a minimal install, otherwise it wouldn't be booting from the network, would it?

Searching for "APR NIC" brings no joy, just a bunch of people who posted about their NICs in April

I say LAN-up and give a net-install a try.
 
Old 01-19-2006, 05:03 PM   #9
Darin
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Booting off the network device can be done with a capable protocol. Unfortunatly, APR is something I've never heard of, and Google came up empty handed except for the april stuff noted above. I know Intel uses something called PXE, that can be set up in Linux, where you set up something like a boot disk image on a server that gets passed to the booting client (kinda like a DHCP address, but more data.) This can be used to start a network install of almost any Linux flavor.

The other options mentioned have merit. Unfortunatly, if you called it an "old laptop" then booting off anything USB is probably a no-go, this is a new BIOS thing only. Another idea that was mentioned also has merit, for about $5.00 US I got myself one of those laptop HDD adapters. Laptop HDD plugs in one end, IDE cable and standard power connector go in the other. Linux isn't as picky as windows about changes in the underlying hardware after it's installed, so it's probably fine to install to the laptop hard disk while it's in a desktop machine and then put it back into the laptop.
 
Old 01-21-2006, 12:36 PM   #10
bricoleur
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My current probs --- #2 in a series

I installed SuSe 9.3 (store-bought DVD/CDs) on my Dell Inspiron 8000 laptop in March of last year. In doing so, I'd replaced the used HD with a new Samsung 80GB drive; so far, sort of so good. I never really got the system's LT WinModem ethernet+modem device properly configured and finally just let that slide (yeah, well, just take my word for it). Meanwhile, I have since bought a Wireless G pcmcia card (Linksys WPC54GS) and that has brought me back to the orignal issues of properly configuring (for dial-up connections) my internal modem card.

I've been trying to use Yast to make these modifications--thiking I now have a better idea of why the first efforts didn't work;

Here's the new frustration : in attempting any revision/modicfication of the current modem set up, Yast prompts me to insert the ststem disc "DVD 1", but then refuses it as lacking a "rc" file (?) or, if I'm not recalling correctly, an "src" (?) --I don't have the exact error message text here with me but will repost it later. The gist seems to be that the DVD disc is not recognized as the proper system disc called for; though it is the original (oem) disc for the system I used in the first installation.

"CD 1" does not work either in place of "DVD 1". For lack of any current system back-up, I don't want to reinstall the whole thing again from scratch and am not yet convinced that that is required at this point.

Since my laptop has no working dial-up or other internet access capability of its own, I'm using a internet café terminal to read/post.

some of my system's profile is in an introductory newbie post in the new member forum.

thanks for any help.
 
Old 01-24-2006, 11:08 AM   #11
bricoleur
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Problem solved by removing all the currently listed modem entries through the YaST program and reinnstalling (using the internnet service provider's [ISP's] written instructions) and some trial 'n error in which defaults to accept and when to type in data specfic to my login.

Last edited by bricoleur; 01-24-2006 at 11:15 AM.
 
Old 02-07-2006, 04:07 PM   #12
pljvaldez
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Morrolan,

Check out this link for how to install any linux without a CD, USB, or floppy drive.
http://marc.herbert.free.fr/linux/win2linstall.html
 
  


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