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Old 06-14-2006, 11:22 PM   #1
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Question Install straight to hard drive of another computer lacking IO

I have an old laptop, NEC Versa 2200C. It has a 3GB HDD, 32MB RAM, 9.5" 640x480 LCD, Pentium 486 processor, and FDD. The Floppy drive doesn't work. It has no USB ports, but 2 PCMCIA slots. It cannot boot off the PCMCIA card. It has no NIC. I have a 2.5" IDE to USB adapter, and a 256 MB CF card with PC card adapter. The computer has no OS, I stupidly, accidentily, removed the limited command line interface that it originally had while I was trying to install linux onto it.

Now for the question

Is there anyway that I can install an OS (any OS) onto the hard drive directly, using another computer (it runs windows, but I can boot up into knoppix) and the USB to IDE adapter? I know nearly nothing (other than absolute basic commands) about linux.

I made one nearly succesful attempt, I booted off the knoppix live CD, on my working computer, and then used knoppix-installer to 'install' the live-CD to the hard drive via USB. I then plugged the hard drive back into the laptop. The bootloader (lilo) showed up, but then it failed while trying to load the kernal.

Even if you could help me get any command line interface on it by writing straight to the hard drive, that would be great. since I know little about linux, I would prefer a GUI (and that would help me with getting towards its final use), or even windows 9* can run on it (which might end up being easier).

[edit]Oh yea, in windows 9x, you can give the command "Format C: /s" which would write the system files needed onto the hard drive, so it would at least let you boot, and do minor things. Is there any way that I can do that without having to install windows 9x on one of my machines? [/edit]

Thank you very much for any help

Last edited by marscity9; 06-14-2006 at 11:36 PM.
Old 06-15-2006, 12:00 AM   #2
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Remove the laptops drive and install in temporarily into another pc. Install a distro but be sure to build the kernel for the laptop hardware. remove & install into the laptop
Old 06-15-2006, 12:56 AM   #3
Bruce Hill
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Welcome to LQ!

The problem with what musicman_ace said is basically the same problem you had when you installed Knoppix.

When the other computer has this drive mounted using the IDE to USB adapter, Linux sees it as /dev/sdx, but when you put it back into your laptop it is going to be /dev/hda. So LiLO will NOT boot it, because the master boot record and / filesystem will not be on /dev/hda. That is why "the bootloader (LiLO) showed up, but then it failed while trying to load the kernel."

If you can get Win98 on it, with a FAT filesystem, then you could install Amigo Linux or perhaps ZipSlack. I have never done these, but it's doable.

The only other option is to install on another computer, but you'll have to have the bootloader and / filesystem correct for the lappy when you put it back in there. Using another lappy where you can plug the hard drive in directly, and install with a CD, will work. You could install in another computer and put it in the lappy, but you'd have to be able to boot the lappy with something and then rewrite LiLO on that drive.
Old 06-15-2006, 12:13 PM   #4
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Thanks, since I don't want to open up my working laptop, I think I will just go trade my USB to IDE 2.5" adapter for a 3.5" adapter. That way I can just do anything (format /s) then load up an OS's files onto the hard drive, so I can set it up straight on the hard drive.

I am not that skilled at linux, so I don't think I can edit the bootloader.



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