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Old 02-13-2008, 02:07 PM   #1
Registered: Apr 2004
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booting an ISO on the hard disk

I have an old laptop.
It has no CD drive.
It has a floppy drive, hard disk and network card.

I have download a bootable ISO to the hard disk.
I can boot tomrtbt from the floppy drive.

How can I boot the ISO from -
1. Tomsrtbt
2. Or any other floppy-based-boot method
Old 02-13-2008, 02:16 PM   #2
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Do you have the means and the hard drive space to make a small cd sized partition on the hard drive? If so, try this:
1. You could format hda4 for ext2 (don't need journaled fs; this is for temporary use to install the liveCD from the hard drive). Remember that hds4 must be unmounted when you run mkfs to format it.
2. Download the liveCD you want to try into DSL.
3. Make a temporary directory to mount the iso into: mkdir /mnt/iso.
4. Make a mount point for /dev/hda4: mkdir /mnt/hda4.
4. Mount the iso: mount -t iso9660 -o loop /path/to/image.iso /mnt/iso. Then mount hda4: mount /dev/hda4 /mnt/hda4.
6. Copy the mounted iso into hda4: cp -R /mnt/iso/* /mnt/hda4.
7. Unmount the iso: umount /mnt/iso.

Now some tricky work. Some livdCDs use isolinux to boot; oters use syslinux. At any rate, you want to set this up so that your current grub installation in DSL can boot the iso now copied to hda4. To do that, grub wants to find the kernel imange and initrd image in a boot folder, which may or may not exist in the liveCD you unpacked. If there is no boot folder, create one.

8. Find the kernel image and initrd and move/copy them into the boot folder you just created. In some distros the kernel image may be called vmlinuz; in others it may be called linux. One I could name has a linux and a vmlinuz file. By experimentation I learned that vmlinuz doesn't boot, but linux does (openSUSE 10.3 iso). So you may have to try more than one file in your grub config to get it to work.

At this point you are done with the iso you copied to hda4.

9. In DSL, cd to /boot/grub and edit menu.lst (or grub.conf if that's what's used) to add an entry for the iso you want to boot.
title iso-on-harddrive
kernel (hd0,3)/boot/linux root=/dev/hda4 <other boot parameters, if any>.
initrd (hd0,3)/boot/initrd.gz (or whatever it's called).

Save and exit.

10. Reboot. You should see grub menu entries for DSL and the iso you copied to hda4.
11. Select the iso and press enter. If you got the correct kernel image file and initrd in the iso's boot folder, it should boot.

Now you can run is as a liveCD from the hard drive, try it out, put it through it's paces. If you want to install to the DSL partition, run the installer script.

Once you have it working, you can delete the iso image you downloaded and the mount point /mnt/iso. Once you have installed the liveCD to the present DSL partition, you can reformat hda4 to get rid of the unpacked iso.

Nicest thing about it all is that you can create several small cd sized partitions (or dvd sized partitions) to run liveCD/DVDs from the hard drive without a working CD/DVD drive.

Bottom line: this is the technique I used for openSUSE 10.3 iso image. Have it to the point that I can boot it. But, it isn't a liveCD, so it wants to install and I've not done the rest of what I need to do vis a vis creating a partition for it to install into.

Saikee hangs out in these parts. He may be able to tell you how to use the chainloader option in the grub conf file to boot the iso without creating folders and moving/coping files.

You may also want to investigate using virtualization software as a means to boot isos on hard drive, such as qemu.
Replace the references to distro name and harddrive/partition numeber with your own.
Old 02-13-2008, 02:26 PM   #3
Registered: Apr 2004
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I will try this.
(I can make partitions on the hard disk.)
Old 02-15-2008, 06:29 AM   #4
Registered: Apr 2006
Location: UK
Distribution: Mandriva, Debain, Redhat, Fedora, Ubuntu, FreeBSD
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i also need to install from my hard drive because my cdrom isnt working
but i already have mandrive on one of the hard drive and i want to install debian on the other
but sorry but your explanation is a little confusing
i have to drive one has mandriva that is hda1 and i have hdd which is empty how do i go about it
Old 02-17-2008, 04:04 PM   #5
Registered: Apr 2004
Posts: 340

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Thanks bigrigdriver. This helped me out.
BTW, I saw the posts by saikee in this forum and justlinux.
One word to describe saikee, "amazing"!


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