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It pains me to congratulate Microsoft. I'm only doing it so someone at the back will put up their hand with a smug expression and say "We can do that."
I have a couple of old laptops and I really want to deploy a lightweight Linux distro to them, when I tell you they strain a little to run Windows 98 SE you'll understand why. DSL would be perfect (but I will consider all good suggestions or alternate distros). The problem is how to depoly the OS? Now the fun starts: no CD-ROM drive...or floppy. The laptops are so old there is no USB 2 and booting from USB devices simply had not been invented. Frankly, I opened a small flap on the side and found a USB slot: oh the joy!
With Win9x (or even post 2K) this is easy. Mount the hard drive in your PC; format it with Fat32 (gah); open a command prompt: sys E: (where E is the drive letter of my laptop hard disk); then simply copy the Win9x cabs to this drive and remount it in the laptop. Win9x: easy. Later Windows shipped with what a consider to be a truly wonderful utility: syspart. With this utility I could mount the laptop drive in my PC, and use syspart to make the drive bootable and install the setup files on the drive: one easy step! Mounting back in the laptop and powering on the machine would boot into setup and complete - now that is slick. OK, I've done some crazy mixed up stuff to get OSes working on some stoopid machines, so I am not afraid of long, arduous and complex steps to achieve my goals. However, you gotta love syspart. I like simple, simple rocks.
So how the heck do I get a Linux distro onto a PC with no floppy or CD/DVD drive that won't boot from USB devices? [Will try anything that works.]
OK, I have a multi-booting, all purpose PC that is currently running Ubuntu 8.04, Windows XP, Windows 7 Beta and Windows 98. That kind of a preference order: I would use Ubuntu as my single main OS but until we get full graphics hardware support and I can have games hammering along at top framerates and with full anti-aliasing and anistrophic filtering I need XP. :-( The other two are for playing. I include this detail for a sketch of my skill level (snorts coffee down nose). I also have constant assess to a working machine and "tinternet", so I can get back here to flame bad suggestions and stuff.
Why not just install ubuntu on one machine and then move the drive? One of the real nice things about linux is that things like the cpu, south bridge and all that crap is automatically picked up on boot. There is very seldom any problem in moving an installed drive between machines, as long as they are of a suitable architecture (e.g. install a 32bit os on a 64bit machine if the destination is only 32bit) You're really quite unlikely to have any glitches i'd say. Whenever I've done this on windows, it's been literally 10 reboots and still have rocky results.
For some reason (user error prolly) DSL refuses to install to the hard drive or even boot correctly. It was giving me a headache so I reconnected my Windows drive came back to see if anyone else had suggestions and burn some new distros. Ubuntu really will kneecap this old laptop it's a Toshiba Portégé 7020CT: Pentium II 366 MHz; 64 MB SDRAM (expandable to 192 MB! ) Hard disk 6.0 GB. I'm going to try Puppy (which I've had some minor success with previously) and VectorLinux.
Originally Posted by acid_kewpie
There is very seldom any problem in moving an installed drive between machines, as long as they are of a suitable architecture (e.g. install a 32bit os on a 64bit machine if the destination is only 32bit)...Whenever I've done this on windows, it's been literally 10 reboots and still have rocky results.
There's no need to do this on Windows ever. You either syspart the drive and finish the build in the target machine, or make the disk bootbale copy the setup files to it and restart in the target PC. If you insist on moving a working installed Windows OS on a hard drive from one PC to another you need to change the HAL, which is not impossible or difficult.
Frankly, and again it pains me to say it, in this respect (only?) Linux is lagging (apparently).
Last edited by themainliner; 02-04-2009 at 10:37 AM.
OK, Chris I took your advice. I mounted the disk in my PC and installed VectorLinux on it. The installation went through without error and I move the disk back to the Toshiba and powered up. I was really pleased to see Grub come up as the laptop read the MBR then Linux began to load and then the boot failed, the last lines being:
VFS: Cannot open root device "hda1" or unknown-block)0,0)
Please append the correct "root=" boot option; here are the available partitions:
0800 5866560 sda driver: sd
0801 2937028 sda1
0803 499905 sda2
0803 2429595 sda3
Kernel panic - not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(0,0)
OK, I'm kinda working with this baby. Kinda
I can get to a root prompt so we can work. I try startx and here is so of the output:
hostname: Host name lookup failure
/usr/bin/startx: line 140: cannot create create temp file for here document: Read Only
xauth: errpr in locking authority file //.Xauthority
Fatal server errpr:
Could not lock file /tmp/.tx0-lock
I think I can fix this any help dudes?
Last edited by themainliner; 02-04-2009 at 02:06 PM.
Reason: Lots more info.
Right, so it's got different references to the disk controllers on your system... bad luck! TBH that could be a bit uglier... you should be able to hit e on the grub screen to change the references from hda to sda as suggested in the error and go on from there.
no, that's just not true. I'm sure I'd have much better luck under linux than windows. It's hard to explain something like this online as I'm not sure how your observations relate to each other...
You've missed the point entirely: for all it's flexiblity and value Linux *appears* to have no direct equivalent to syspart which is very good deployment tool. The main thrust of this thread was to find a Linux alternative to syspart to deploy a Linux distro to laptop with no floppy, CD drive or bootable USB.
Originally Posted by acid_kewpie
where have you actually got to now? You're booting happily but have a read only filesystem still?
I abandoned VectorLinux and gave Puppy 4 a go and now I have a working install, but sadly no X. I had to resort to deploying Puppy in my PC, again, and then transferring the drive back to the laptop and then manually editing grub and trying to get all the hardware redetected...not ideal. A mammoth step back from syspart (do you see that point).
Originally Posted by acid_kewpie
I *expect* it's totally possible to image something like ubuntu directly onto the disk and boot to the installer that way, but i've not checked on line for docs about this. have you?
Yes I have and as I say there appears to be nothing. Your Blog spot link is interesting but presupposes a Linux install, a working network connection and deployment of an upgrade for use in the same PC.
In Windows you use syspart to make a seperate hard drive bootable and deploy the installation files to it ready for use speciffically in a quite seperate PC, without the need for any other media: floppy, CD / DVD, USB or available from the network. When transferred to the target machine the drive will boot and trigger the OS install and has all the necessary files on that drive.
It may be a consolation goal for Windows but it is a good goal none the less.
Last edited by themainliner; 02-11-2009 at 08:20 AM.