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Old 12-07-2004, 07:03 PM   #1
Registered: Jun 2002
Distribution: RH, FC, FreeBSD,OpenBSD
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how to install Linux on a computer with no cd-rom

Yep, have a old pentium 120, 32mb RAM and 6gig drive that i'd like to install Linux on and act as a firewall.

One problem though: It does not have a CD-ROM.

Anyone have suggestions on how to go about install on it?

I appreciate it.
Old 12-07-2004, 07:41 PM   #2
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Registered: Dec 2004
Distribution: Slackware
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Hi tarballed.
I assume you have a network card. If so you can install from NFS.
Old 12-07-2004, 07:41 PM   #3
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Does it have a floppy?

Old 12-07-2004, 07:57 PM   #4
Registered: Sep 2003
Distribution: Arch .7
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I also have an old 133 pentium with a 2 gig SCSI harddrive, but can't boot off the has a network card, but i dont know how to install with NFS.
Can anyone help me with that?

p.s. i was planning on using it as a music server, so i just need a basic installation....nothing fancy

Last edited by lazychris2000; 12-07-2004 at 07:59 PM.
Old 12-07-2004, 08:37 PM   #5
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Registered: Dec 2004
Distribution: Slackware
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Hi I use slack so I will tell you about it.
With slack you can create the boot floppies and then boot from them.
this is from the slackware cd:

These are root-install disks for Slackware 10.0.

If you are unable to boot the Slackware installation CD directly, you'll
need create these floppy disks in order to load the installer. In the past,
there's only been one rootdisk floppy called "color.gz", but now there are
2 floppy images (install.1 and install.2), and you'll need both of them.

> Mini FAQ:
> Q. But I just want something like the old color.gz that I can load
> as an initrd from the hard drive with LILO, or syslinux, or loadlin.
> A. I think what you're looking for is: isolinux/initrd.img
> This is a self contained, gzipped initrd like the old color.gz.

In addition to the install images, you'll also need a bootdisk. See the
bootdisks directory for those.

To create a floppy disk from one of these images, use the RAWRITE command on
DOS or Windows. For example, to make the first rootdisk image (install.1),
you'd put a formatted 1.44MB floppy in your floppy drive, and then run this
command (in this directory):


There are several versions of RAWRITE provided to handle most versions of DOS
and Windows. If one version doesn't seem to work, try another.

To make the floppy images under Linux, use the "cat" command to send them to
the floppy device. This command will make the first install disk:

cat install.1 > /dev/fd0

Here's a description of the disk images in this directory:


install.1, install.2: These are the Slackware installation disks, used
to install Slackware Linux to its own partition.

To load the installer from floppy disk, you'll need to write
each to these to a floppy disk, and use a bootdisk to load them.

NOTE: The 'dialog' program used by the install system is not
forgiving of extra keystrokes entered between screens, so type
carefully. :-)

There are also these supplemental hardware support disk images, used in
conjunction with the disks above:

pcmcia.dsk This supplemental disk provides support for laptop devices. It
allows installing through a network or CD-ROM drive card. To
use this disk to scan for PCMCIA devices (this is only done if
you need to use them DURING the installation), you enter 'pcmcia'
after loading the 'install' disks and logging in.

network.dsk This supplemental disk provides support for ethernet cards. To
use this disk to scan for network devices (this is only done if
you need to use them DURING the installation), you enter 'network'
after loading the 'install' disks and logging in.

There is also a single "rescue" floppy image, since we don't want to be
required to load two rootdisks every time we need to get a Linux prompt from
floppy disks to fix something:

rescue.dsk This is a BusyBox-based rescue disk for Linux. It is a
reasonably complete mini-Linux system running from a four
megabyte ramdisk, and contains an editor (vi), networking tools
like ifconfig, route, telnet, ping, and wget, and other tools
that might be handy for fixing your Linux machine if you ever
get locked out for some reason, or any time you just need to
boot Linux to "edit something quickly".

And finally, there is a very small image containing the Smart Boot Manager:

sbootmgr.dsk This nifty little tool allows selecting various devices to boot
from a menu, and even allows booting a CD-ROM in machines where
the BIOS doesn't support it (or it's supposed to support it, but
it just doesn't work). If you have trouble booting the
Slackware CD-ROM, you might try writing this image to a floppy,
booting it, and then selecting your CD-ROM drive as the boot

The SBM installer is available as a Slackware package (called
"btmgr") in the extra/ packages collection.

To set up NFS is very easy you need another Linux box and then config your /etc/exports file.
you can try man exports for more info about that.
Old 12-07-2004, 09:48 PM   #6
Registered: Jun 2002
Distribution: RH, FC, FreeBSD,OpenBSD
Posts: 326

Original Poster
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Looks like my two options are:

1) Floppy (im assuming you can install some, if not all distros by floppy)
2) NFS

I was thinking of using Fedora Core 3 for my install. Since this box will be a firewall, with a DMZ and most likely setting up a VPN or two for it, will fedora core 3 suffice? Or is there something better?

What distros can yoou install via floppy?

Can I install fedora core 3 via NFS?
Old 12-07-2004, 09:55 PM   #7
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Better, yes Slackware, so much better and for the specifications you have it will perform even better, and you only need the first CD because you won't need X.
Slack is your best bet for this.
And with disk 1 you can create you boot floppies for installing from NFS, see my previous posting for more info.
And yes, you can install fedora 3 from NFS.
Old 12-07-2004, 10:33 PM   #8
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: Delaware
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 351

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I am a little confused.

I have slack 10 install cd's/dvd.
I want to create floppies to install on a old IBM thinkpad 760el.( no bootable cd) (no nic) ( no usb)
*thought about installing to 1gig compact flash, but not sure if laptop will boot from cf.
---might beyond my skill level anyway--but I like a challenge.---

I love slackware, and would love to install it on the laptop.

How do I make floppies?

Is there a way I can keep the install to under 1gig? (size of old laptop hd)

Would it be better to get a wireless router to setup a wlan, and install via network after I got pcmcia setup? (thinking on gettting an airport extreme to share dialup.)

I am sorry if this is detailed above.
I didn't understand the explanation.(sorry.)

I would appreciate any help or a point in the right direction.
If I can get this laptop done I have two other handhelds I would like to convert to linux.
1. Pentium 1 touchscreen. ( looking to install slack or debian)
2. Fujitsu Stylistic 1000. (would like to install pebble via pcmcia hd.)


I don't want to hijack this thread. I thought this applied.

Last edited by DeadPenguin; 12-07-2004 at 10:34 PM.
Old 12-07-2004, 10:49 PM   #9
Registered: Jun 2004
Distribution: SuSE since 7.0, Ubuntu since 04
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a very important thing to consider on all of these installs is that BIOS versions from those days may not have had the options to boot from a network. most desktops that had P1 era win95 would have had USB ports; a USB cd drive (or floppy/iso images on a usb memory stick?) could also do the trick if you can boot from 'other' or usb.
Old 12-07-2004, 11:08 PM   #10
Registered: Mar 2004
Location: Belgium
Posts: 102

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Just a suggestion if you don't like the floppy and NFS suggestions... If you plan on doing this only once, it might not be too much trouble to find a spare CD-ROM drive somewhere and temporarily use it to install Linux. After it's installed, remove it and put it back where it belongs.

You can either take down another computer you own while you borrow its CD-ROM drive, or you can borrow a friends. Also, you can find a CD-ROM online for pretty cheap if you plan on seriously using this machine.

Old 12-07-2004, 11:09 PM   #11
Registered: Dec 2004
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Old 12-07-2004, 11:12 PM   #12
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: Delaware
Distribution: Slackware
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It doesn't have usb.
It does have pcmcia, could I use a pcmcia usb card? I have one lying around.
Curious how to set that up.
I also have a copy of Catux-USB and a 512 USB key.

IBM 760el has infrared(sp??) . Can I do anything with that?

Last edited by DeadPenguin; 12-07-2004 at 11:15 PM.


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