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Old 04-13-2009, 01:47 PM   #1
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Install with ONLY floppies

I have some older laptops (486, Pentium) that do NOT have:
- Built-in ethernet
- CD-ROM drives of any kind
- On-board USB

What they DO have is an external floppy, and a (small) hard drive. They also have PCMCIA slots.

I'd like to install a light, basic distro with GUI, web browser and basic word-processor. Then I hope to install a 3Com PCMCIA network card and use them for simple kitchen-table -type wikipedia questions, webmail, and emergency loaners.

So I'm looking for an ALL-floppy distro - and I don't care if it takes 20 floppies. Is there a distro like this? Or is this a lost cause?

Other things I've considered:
* Boot from PCMCIA - I'd have to $buy$ a card-based drive, copy/convert bootable CD iso, etc... (most likely what I'll try next) (My followup question will be how to make the card "just like" a bootable CD)
* Buy (dedicated, proprietary) external CD drives for each machine - more costly than above, but failproof
* Pull the drive, copy/convert CD iso into laptop HD partition, replace drive, boot from floppy, mount filesystem, etc... - seems like the hard way
* Boot to DOS, load card+ethernet drivers, map drive, copy CD over network, etc... - also the hard way

Thanks in advance.
Old 04-13-2009, 02:28 PM   #2
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Slackware 4.0 and 7.0 are popular for just these reasons. You are able to do a complete install of Slackware 4.0 from only floppies. You can even do a partial install of 7.1 including packages a and n (networking packages), which you could then use to complete the install without a cd.
Old 04-16-2009, 02:01 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info. I'll try 7.1 - and if that doesn't work out for me, 4.0.

Old 04-16-2009, 02:25 PM   #4
the trooper
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It's possible to install Debian via floppy disk.

Although at some point you will need an internet connection.
This should get you a running but minimal system.

Last edited by the trooper; 04-16-2009 at 02:33 PM.
Old 04-16-2009, 02:41 PM   #5
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DamnSmallLinux floppy only install instructions. Note, after reading the instructions, you may wish to reconsider some of the "other things I've considered".
Old 04-16-2009, 03:59 PM   #6
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Have a look at

muLinux is a miniature, but nearly full-featured distribution (i.e., version) of Linux that can fit on a single floppy disk...

Last edited by Tinkster; 10-30-2010 at 04:14 PM.
Old 04-16-2009, 04:19 PM   #7
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It may just be easier to pull the hard drives out of the machines, install them on a machine with a optical drive, do the install, and then place the drive back in the original machines.
Old 04-29-2009, 02:41 PM   #8
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Pardon Me

Will someone please tell me how to post a new thread? I have searched all over this website without finding how to do it.

thanks, bjh1225
Old 04-29-2009, 03:09 PM   #9
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Go to one of the forums (like linux-newbie), in the upper left there is a button market NEW THREAD. Click on it.
Old 04-29-2009, 03:55 PM   #10
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Also Basic Linux too, and once you can get a net connection, you can do a dsl poor-man's install or similar.


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