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Old 10-17-2007, 11:50 AM   #1
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installing without cd

How would I go about installing linux without a cd. I have tried several times to do a frugal install and network install,yet Grub is not getting it(and neather am I)I have a older system.
Pavillion 7960 from HP.

P4 1.3ghz
128mb ram
1 cd-r(defunct)
1 dvd-rom
1 40gb hard drive
four partitions:
cable internet
Im using Grub(installed at the MBR)
I don't have a floppy so all I can do is download the iso and break them open to extract
the files. Grub is allways giving me all kinds of errors when I try and setup a frugal on
hda4. Id like to overwrite hda2 once I find a distro Im happy with.
The DSL installation was from a borrow cd wich since been destroyed.(kids will play frisbee with anything) Which distro would be the best one to use in this setup and could someone point me to the right grub tutorial for that distro. Thanks
Old 10-17-2007, 02:47 PM   #2
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All of the main distributions have good installers which let you specify which partitions to format or leave alone and how GRUB should be set up...but they use different installers so a generic tutorial wouldn't be much use. Since your DVD drive works it may be easier to get hold of a premade installation disc than to hack ISO images. Depending on where you live, sometimes the cheapest method of doing that is to buy a computer magazine, otherwise there are mail-order companies that will ship you one for a small fee, or Ubuntu ShipIt is free. The XFCE desktop environment should be OK on that hardware, so Debian or Xubuntu (alternate install disc) would be good choices.
Old 10-17-2007, 08:33 PM   #3
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1. You could format hda4 for ext2 (don't need journaled fs; this is for temporary use to install the liveCD from the hard drive). Remember that hds4 must be unmounted when you run mkfs to format it.
2. Download the liveCD you want to try into DSL.
3. Make a temporary directory to mount the iso into: mkdir /mnt/iso.
4. Make a mount point for /dev/hda4: mkdir /mnt/hda4.
4. Mount the iso: mount -t iso9660 -o loop /path/to/image.iso /mnt/iso. Then mount hda4: mount /dev/hda4 /mnt/hda4.
6. Copy the mounted iso into hda4: cp -R /mnt/iso/* /mnt/hda4.
7. Unmount the iso: umount /mnt/iso.

Now some tricky work. Some livdCDs use isolinux to boot; oters use syslinux. At any rate, you want to set this up so that your current grub installation in DSL can boot the iso now copied to hda4. To do that, grub wants to find the kernel imange and initrd image in a boot folder, which may or may not exist in the liveCD you unpacked. If there is no boot folder, create one.

8. Find the kernel image and initrd and move/copy them into the boot folder you just created. In some distros the kernel image may be called vmlinuz; in others it may be called linux. One I could name has a linux and a vmlinuz file. By experimentation I learned that vmlinuz doesn't boot, but linux does (openSUSE 10.3 iso). So you may have to try more than one file in your grub config to get it to work.

At this point you are done with the iso you copied to hda4.

9. In DSL, cd to /boot/grub and edit menu.lst (or grub.conf if that's what's used) to add an entry for the iso you want to boot.
title iso-on-harddrive
kernel (hd0,3)/boot/linux root=/dev/hda4 <other boot parameters, if any>.
initrd (hd0,3)/boot/initrd.gz (or whatever it's called).

Save and exit.

10. Reboot. You should see grub menu entries for DSL and the iso you copied to hda4.
11. Select the iso and press enter. If you got the correct kernel image file and initrd in the iso's boot folder, it should boot.

Now you can run is as a liveCD from the hard drive, try it out, put it through it's paces. If you want to install to the DSL partition, run the installer script.

Once you have it working, you can delete the iso image you downloaded and the mount point /mnt/iso. Once you have installed the liveCD to the present DSL partition, you can reformat hda4 to get rid of the unpacked iso.

Nicest thing about it all is that you can create several small cd sized partitions (or dvd sized partitions) to run liveCD/DVDs from the hard drive without a working CD/DVD drive.

Bottom line: this is the technique I used for openSUSE 10.3 iso image. Have it to the point that I can boot it. But, it isn't a liveCD, so it wants to install and I've not done the rest of what I need to do vis a vis creating a partition for it to install into.

Saikee hangs out in these parts. He may be able to tell you how to use the chainloader option in the grub conf file to boot the iso without creating folders and moving/coping files.

You may also want to investigate using virtualization software as a means to boot isos on hard drive, such as qemu.

Last edited by bigrigdriver; 10-17-2007 at 09:01 PM.
Old 10-25-2007, 05:38 PM   #4
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I have tried a number of combinations with the scripts. The one I want to use would be SAM linux. I wil eventually get this. Has anyone done a frugal on SAM? Thanks for all the info
Old 10-25-2007, 06:07 PM   #5
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This looks like a loopback partition installation that is a windows installer app:

This in an honest to goodness windows installer for either opensuse or ubuntu that runs a ation and allows you to partition your hard drive:

I used it once to install ubuntu. Even though it was only version 6.06, I was able to do sequential dist-upgrades using synaptic to get to the most recent version.
Old 11-07-2007, 06:21 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the info. One of the main errors is that the grubs always try and look for the cd version thinking im booting from cd. So I started try to boot my frugals with older livecd that I have (slax 5.1.8 I was able to boot VectorLinux 5.8,Nimblex,and ZenLive. My old DSL3 can boot puppy3.0.1. Is there a GRUB installation that will let you choose the kind of images you can boot?(i.e syslinux,isolinux,and others)I also notice that some grub system are happier with kernel 2.6.x and other grub install only want to boot 2.4.x Id like to try Xubuntu and antiX-M7 One more thing, is there any intall which would unpack the entire kernel? I noticed that most(especially live)kernels are unpacked at every boot and every thing is always auto-detected.

well, I have one(this time I mean it)question. Is there a piece of linux software that would determine the best kernel to use on my hardware? My system isn't new,but its not exactly a dinosaur either. I've seen website which help you find the perfect distro,but if Im going to try Linux from Scratch. Id like to see the pro and cons of the two current stable kernels(2.6.x or 2.4.x) next I'll look at the source for the new 2.7(I can't wait to get better hardware) again thanks for the help, Cryptic out.
Old 11-07-2007, 07:23 PM   #7
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2.7 is unstable, and I doubt if they are still working on it
unless your computer is from more then 10 years ago then you should go with 2.6, my computer is 7 years old and it runs 2.6.23 perfectly


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