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Old 06-04-2008, 01:28 PM   #1
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installing linux from floppies

I have an old IBM 760 XL laptop that I am trying to revive (needs a battery ). The battery is on order.

It has a 166 mhz pentium processor, 106 MB of ram (that is the maximum it will hold), a 2 gb HD (I have an old 12 GB HD which I think I can put in it).

It has 2 PCMCIA slots. No USB port(s).

It runs OK now (Win 98).

It has just a floppy drive (no CD rom drive).

Can I install linux strictly from floppies (I have no CD ROM drive)?


Old 06-04-2008, 02:39 PM   #2
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No "real" (I.E. a full distribution) can be installed only from floppies anymore, the typical install is now much much too large for that. It would take thousands of floppy disks to fit everything.

Your best bet is to use something like Debian or even OpenBSD which allows you to start a network (Internet) install from floppies. You don't mention any network device currently, but getting a cheap PCMCIA Ethernet adapter would work.

Alternately you could pull the drive from the laptop and put the installation files onto it, then install from that (boot to floppy and point the installer at the HDD for the source), but I don't think you will have the space for that on only 2 GB (the 12 GB drive would be enough though).

Personally I would go with the single-floppy network install of OpenBSD, as I have just had better luck with BSD on machines of that era. I don't like running Linux on anything much lower than 200 MHz, as it just doesn't feel like the performance is at an acceptable level to me.

Last edited by MS3FGX; 06-04-2008 at 02:41 PM.
Old 06-04-2008, 06:07 PM   #3
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Welcome to LQ!

You can do a network install as was suggested. Nothing says you have to do a current distro install. In fact rolling back to older versions may be your best bet on Legacy hardware. I've installed Slackware 10.2/11 on the IBM 760EL/XL without too much trouble.
I did use larger hdd, but that was because I needed space for other work. Max out the memory if you can.

Your desktop use should be a minimum setup, I used XFCE on the Thinkpads. But I do most of my work from the cli.


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