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-   -   No way to put the OS in... (

TheIrish 01-09-2004 10:26 AM

No way to put the OS in...
Hi guys,
a friend of mine has an old Compaq-something laptop he doesn't use and would like to sell it to me. I'd need it for network analisys.
Here's the question: this old thing has no CD-ROM player, no USB port, no integrated NIC... only the floppy drive.
I was wondering how could I install a Debian in that?
I thought... I buy a PCMCIA NIC (please let me know what vendor and model would you suggest) I make a bootable disk with a kernel with PCMCIA support in (will I be able to fit it in a floppy?) and manage to do a network install (ooo...).
If any of you tried this solution, please let me know your experience, it would be helpful.
If I'm missing an easier way... well a post would be very appreciated.
Thank you very much

hw-tph 01-09-2004 12:06 PM

Most distributions support booting from floppy and installing over the network using FTP, http or rsync. If the required files do not fit on one floppy they are usually split over two or more floppies, so no worries there.

I have three PCMCIA NICs that work well and one that works not-so-well. The ones that work really well are two 3com 3c509-based 10Mbit cards (you may have problems finding those considering they are so old) and one 10/100Mbit D-Link DFE-670TXD. These all work well and are usually detected "right out of the box". While the D-Link is a 10/100Mbit autosensing card it is an old-school 16bit (not Cardbus) PCMCIA card which means I can't get any better throughput than about 1MByte/s on my 366MHz laptop since the old 16bit bus is very limited. But unless you're looking to do serious (and fast) networking it should serve you well.
The card that doesn't work that well is a 3com 3c575-BT card. The 3c575 drivers all are prone to failure (both the pcmcia-cs 3c575_cs and in-kernel 3c59x drivers) during high network load on slow (<400MHz) machines, but other than that it works pretty well.

I have installed RedHat, SuSE and Debian over network connections. I never once had any problems with net installs, and I actually prefer it to installing from CD's if I have access to a fast network connection.


TheIrish 01-09-2004 02:05 PM

Thank you very much.
You've been very helpful

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