-   Linux - General (
-   -   installing to a disk from a bootable live cd (

dan2 04-14-2012 09:53 PM

installing to a disk from a bootable live cd
I have a bootable cd with a distribution on it.

The distribution doesn't seem to have any install software on it.

Nevertheless, i'm wondering if it is possible to take an iso image and put it on a partition on a hard disk, and be able to boot from it.

(I can't decide whether this is reasonable in principle or unreasonable. It seems reasonable, becuase, after all, the cd is just a long string of bytes on a device. So it seems like those same bytes could be on a partition. It seems unreasonable because the software on the cd might use the fact that it is a cd to do certain things. For example, it might look for a cd drive and read it, instead of doing something like issuing an instruction to read from whatever device was booted from.)

Anyhow, if it is possible, i'd greatly appreciate information on just how to do it.

And if it is impossible, i'd also appreciate an explanation of why (but already the knowledge that it was impossible would be useful, as i wouldn't have to tinker with it further).

Thanks in advance for any info!


rokytnji 04-14-2012 10:08 PM


I have a bootable cd with a distribution on it.

The distribution doesn't seem to have any install software on it.


Nevertheless, i'm wondering if it is possible to take an iso image and put it on a partition on a hard disk, and be able to boot from it.
Yes. It is possible.

Just one of the many ways. I am sure there will be other suggestions.

fukawi1 04-14-2012 10:11 PM

Simply speaking.
to copy a iso image to a disk partition wont work, since there is no boot loader, MBR or way of knowing the image is there to boot.
and example of this would be

dd if=livecd.iso of=/dev/sda1
But if you write the iso directly to the disk itself, it should work, this WILL depend a lot on the various types of live cd's, isolinux, syslinux, etc etc. I am not well versed in the differences between them. (notice using sda rather than sda1)

dd if=livecd.iso of=/dev/sda
This will work because the live cd boot loader is written to the correct place on the drive.
It worked for a test with a arch linux livecd in a virtual machine.

yancek 04-14-2012 11:33 PM

You can copy an iso file to a partition and install Grub2 on that partition or a separate partition as well as to the master boot record and you will be able to boot it. It will operate like a Live CD. The only distributions this is likely to work with are Ubuntu and its derivatives and probably Debian, maybe Fedora. You should be able to find some info at the Ubuntu forums or just google boot iso image from hard disk grub2. One site listed below:

jefro 04-15-2012 11:56 AM

Why is the distro a secret?

Grub and grub4dos and such might be able to boot an iso. It might be that there is a way to mount the iso and copy the data or file structure off to a hard drive. It may be possible to clone the live running image to a file then copy it.

All this is just a guess. If we knew what you had we may be able to say just use the installer located .....

dan2 04-15-2012 01:07 PM

Thanks rokytnji and fukawi1 and yancek for the (very interesting) links.

jefro, the distro is absolutely not a secret, but i was just wondering about the principle of the matter.

In fact, the iso in question is from
It is debian, but for me the most important part is that the gnustep runtime is installed and workably configured on it.

So the live cd represents what i want, but i'd naturally like it on a hard disk.

Now, in fact, the link above also includes information on installing, but it is certainly not a button press away. Rather it is to install a base system (debian, ubuntu, or one of the bsds), then install a long list of packages.

I may end up doing exactly this (base plus install install install) but all of the pieces are "in flight" so to speak (i.e., all are evolving, and some are vigorously evolving, like ubuntu). So my expectation is that i may end up with a very broken system.

The cd, however, is frozen in a workable state.

So i'm not really sure what to do, but don't want to inject too much thread drift here.

No matter what, i appreciate everybody pointing out these links.

273 04-15-2012 01:13 PM

Couldn't you just install Debian and then:

apt-get install gnustep gnustep-devel gnustep-games wdm menu

dan2 04-15-2012 01:19 PM

Hi 273,

Thanks for your suggestion.

In fact, that's why i would do (well, except with a sudo in front).

In fact, i would type s-u-d-o, then copy/paste :) :) :)

But the problem is the immense debugging effort which may follow, becuase what fit together precisely in 2009 may not do so today.

(Otoh, maybe i'm just worrying about a totally non-existent problem. Will have to try it out! :) )


TobiSGD 04-15-2012 01:22 PM

While it may be possible to install that distro on the harddisk you still would get nothing more than outdated unsupported software. GNUstep is discontinued, the last version was released in 2009. This means it is most likely based on Debian Lenny, which is out of support.
I would strongly recommend to use a Debian install and install the packages.

jefro 04-16-2012 04:54 PM

If you notice, the image is a hybrid iso. If there is support for your system, it should be as simple as dd the iso image to your hard drive. Hopefully you can then use tools to correct for the size.

I have to agree with TobiSGD in that the choice is less than might be.

dan2 04-24-2012 12:16 AM

Thanks everybody for your help.

Jefro, how do you notice that an iso image is hybrid?

Anybody who is researching this and stumbles across this thread: i ended up following the advice, which i think is probably reasonable, to just install a new debian system (currently 6.0.4, "squeeze"), and then install the packages 273 listed via sudo. This doesn't quite work, as there is no longer a wdm package. But there is a wmaker and it gets installed (no need to list it, but wdm has to be removed from the command). This does not finish the process, because evidently there's configuration involved to make the system look and feel like the live cd. So that's presumably the next step.

jefro 04-24-2012 04:07 PM

It said it was a hybrid iso. What were we talking about?

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:32 AM.