Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB boot)

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Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB boot)

Postby deviceguru on Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:11 pm

What's the easiest way to install LMDE on an old laptop, which has a CD-only drive and does not support booting from USB media? I have come up with a method that's somewhat convoluted, so I'd like to know if there's a straightforward way to do it. Thanks!
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby nunol on Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:22 pm

You cold use Plop to boot a USB pen with LMDE.

http://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager/index.html
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby deviceguru on Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:08 pm

@nunol: Thanks for the suggestion. Actually, I did try Plop (v5.0.14), but it couldn't find the USB thumbdrive.

The laptop is an old ThinkPad X10.
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby wayne128 on Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:14 pm

No DVD, plop did not work...no usb boot?

then, pull out the hard disk, install it from another laptop or computer, then, put back the installed hard disk to laptop.
hopefully it will work.
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Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB boot)

Postby deviceguru on Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:26 pm

Note: This is the second iteration of this post. The first version had a small error in it, which interfered with installing a bootloader in the laptop HDD's master boot record.

Here is my (admitedly convoluted) procedure for installing LDME on an old laptop. I suspect there's an easier way to do this, but the process below allowed me to install Linux Mint Debian from the LDME 201204 iso onto my tired old laptop's hard drive.

The laptop is a Thinkpad X20 (type 2662-35U). It's based on a 600MHz Pentium III CPU and has 192MB of SDRAM, a 20GB hard drive, and a CD-only optical drive. I've had good luck in the past with Debian on this Thinkpad, so I had high hopes for LDME -- except for the fact that there's no netinstall CD for LDME.

*** Note: The drive references below assume that the laptop's hard drive is recognized by the system as "sda" and the external USB device is recognized as "sdb"; yous may differ. ***

1. Preparations:

* Download the LDME liveDVD iso and copy the file to a fat32-formatted thumbdrive (no need to burn it to a DVD)

* Download the Gparted liveCD iso and burn it to a CD

* Download the Rescatux liveCD iso and burn it to a CD

[i](Note: if you wish, you can use the Rescatux liveCD for the steps below that say to use the Gparted liveCD, by running gparted from a console session.)[i]

2. Boot the Gparted liveCD on the laptop, plug in the thumbdrive with the LMDE liveDVD iso, open up a console session, and use the these commands to turn the laptop's hard drive into an LDME "liveHDD"...

Code: Select all
   sudo mkdir sdb1
   sudo mount /dev/sdb1 sdb1
   sudo dd if=sdb1/lmde.iso of=/dev/sda bs=1k


3. Now, unplug the thumbdrive and reboot the laptop from the LDME liveDVD image you just installed on its HDD. Assuming that works, plug in a 16GB (or larger) USB thumbdrive and install LDME on it. During the installation process, set up the thumbdrive with a 10,000MB "/" ext4 partition and a 1,000MB swap partition.

4. Now reboot the laptop from the Gparted liveCD and delete all partitions that show up on the laptop's HDD using gparted. Then, open up a console session and clear the contents of the first few MBs of the hard drive using the following command:

Code: Select all
   sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdc bs=512 count=10000

...this was done to eliminate a failure that would occur later, when trying to write an MBR and bootloader to the HDD; the issue relates to having cloned the liveUSB to the laptop's hard drive.

5. Still using the Gparted liveCD, perform these top-level functions:

* create a new partition table on the laptop's HDD

* create a 10,000MB sda1 partition, formatted as ext4

* create a 1,000MB sda2 partition, formatted as linux-swap)

6. Still using the Gparted liveCD, plug in the USB to which you installed the LDME OS in step 3. Then, copy the contents of the USB thumbdrive to the laptop's sda1 partition using these commands in a console session:

Code: Select all
   sudo mkdir sda1
   sudo mkdir sdb1
   sudo mount /sda1 sda1
   sudo mount /sdb1 sdb1
   sudo cp -a sdb1/* sda1/

...the last of those steps can take a long time to complete!

7. Still using the Gparted liveCD, edit the grub and fstab config files on sda1 so that they contain the correct drive partition IDs. Open a console session and perform these steps:

Code: Select all
   sudo pico sda1/etc/fstab

...modify the drive IDs to "/dev/sda1" for "/", and "/dev/sda2" for "swap"

Code: Select all
   sudo blkid

...note the UUID value for sda1

Code: Select all
   sudo pico sda1/boot/grub/grub.cfg

...modify the UUID for sda1 to the value reported by blkid in the prior step

8. If you reboot the laptop now, no bootloader will be found. To fix this, boot the Rescatux liveCD, and select "Super GRUB 2" from its top-level menu. Then perform these selections (hit Enter after each):

* select the "Enable GRUB2's PATA support" function

* select the "Detect any GRUB2 cnfiguration file" function
...should find the grub.cfg from sda1

* select the grub.cfg found by the prior step

9. Assuming LDME booted from the prior step, you need to perform one more step. Open up a console session and do:

Code: Select all
   sudo dpkg-reconfigure grub-pc

...the process should report success, although there may be some warning msgs


LMDE should now be able to boot on the old laptop without the assistance of any liveCDs.
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby deviceguru on Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:47 pm

I think you can build the flash memory LMDE installation from any x86 system for use in this process, so steps 2-4 can be replaced with using the LMDE liveDVD on a desktop x86 PC system to install LMDE onto a thumbdrive with a 10,000MB "/" ext4 partition and a 1,000MB swap partition. Then go to step 5 in the process listed above.
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby oobetimer on Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:03 pm

It is easy .. :wink:

1. Install some distro like SnowLinux Ice XFce
http://www.snowlinux.de/blog/320-snowli ... e-released

2. Install UNetbootin
sudo apt-get install unetbootin

3. Download LMDE
http://www.linuxmint.com/download_lmde.php/

4. Install LMDE using "hard drive installation method"
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=106727
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby deviceguru on Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:51 pm

Re: oobetimer's suggestion...

Actually, the Unetbootin approach was one of my earlier, failed, attempts. If I remember correctly, the liveDVD ISO's installation process could not proceed due to the ISO file running from the target HDD. I tried positioning it on a thumbdrive, but for some reason Unetbootin couldn't support that configuration; perhaps with more investigation I might have gotten that approach working -- I'd have to repeat the test to see what the precise issue was and whether I could overcome it. But it didn't work, which is why I devised the alternative (and more complex) approach listed above.

Incidentally, I've also come up with yet another method, for an even more restrictive case: an old Sony Vaio based on a 366MHz Pentium; 192MB DRAM; 6.5GB HDD, PCMCIA slot (usable for WiFi cards); and an external USB-connected CDROM drive. The USB-based CDROM made that one even tricker to manage, but I've got it running LMDE 201204 (MATE version) right now! It's a bit laggy, so I'll probably redo it with the lmde-xfce version, and will be glad to post that procedure if anyone's interested.
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby jjaythomas on Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:20 pm

Will Not be a official LMDE install but...

I take this is a 32Bit system :roll:

You can install 'Swift Linux' distro (this is why not a official LMDE install) :lol: (fits on CD.

After the updates (updates using the same Upacks system as LMDE (you'll have a ICEWM LMDE based system) (and lighter Apps :) )
from their you can install youre 'DE' of choice (most have meta packages).

Note most things on the LMDE forum will work the same BUT not all ((be warned)!

J.Jay

P.S. if xfce4 and xfce4-goodies meta package (my personal favorite DE) you'll be on 4.8. (you can also LXDEify, or you may like ICEWM.) :mrgreen:
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby deviceguru on Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:36 pm

@jjaythomas: thanks for the suggestion! I'll try installing the Swift Linux liveCD on the old Vaio notebook, and will report back on the results.

Update 1: The Swift Linux liveCD, like most other relatively recent liveCDs, does not boot on the Vaio notebook due to the Vaio's use of an external USB-interfaced CD drive. I'll try installing it using an indirect method.
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby jjaythomas on Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:04 am

TRY... :?:

Do you have a BIOS setting, Boot order have to set to boot from CD before HD?
or
is their a key-combo to click to interupt normal Boot so to boot from a place other than normal HD (onThinkPads usually ThinkPad button on tablet or F12 on keyboard).

P.S had a P3 vaio years ago if I remember had a BIOS setting for boot order (with CD) HD boot always defaulted first!

J.Jay
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Re: LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB boot)

Postby deviceguru on Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:51 pm

@jjaythomas:

The problem isn't that the CD isn't recognized as a boot device. I can boot older Linux liveCDs just fine on the Vaio notebook, and few current liveCDs also boot. But somewhere around 2009 there was a change to the "standard" liveCD bootup sequence or build components: apparently the kernels or loadable drivers included in nearly all liveCDs today don't include the required driver for accessing the Vaio's external USB CD drive. So what happens is the liveCD starts loading, but then there's a point where the CD spins down and is no longer accessed. I think the issue is that the liveCD's filesystem image, which goes into a ramdisk, does not contain the required driver for USB CD drives, or at least for working with the Vaio's one. Here are some of the liveCD's messages as it tries to run:

Code: Select all
loading vmlinuz
loading initrd.lz
Ready.

...then silence on the CD

Code: Select all
Loading, please wait...

...then sounds of it reading the HDD over and over, and eventually:

Code: Select all
BOOT FAILED!
This Debian Live image failed to boot.
Please file a bug against the 'live-boot' package or email the Debian Live mailing list...


Regarding liveCDs that do work on the Vaio notebook, the only current one I've found is SliTaz Linux 4.0, which boots and runs, but only in console mode due to the limited RAM on the Vaio. In addition to that, SystemRescueCD 2.8 boots and runs fine, and is a great tool for partitioning and formatting the HDD, for transferring data to the HDD from a USB device, and for other command-line tasks. It can't run Gparted, though, since its X-server won't load on the Vaio.

But as I mentioned above, I can work around this some tools, such as the SliTaz liveCD and SystemRescueCD. In fact, using these I've got LMDE installed and running on the Vaio notebook right now, but it's a bit laggy and uses more of the HDD than I'd like. So at the moment I'm looking for a decent alternative with less RAM and storage overhead, but a GNOME2-like desktop environment. I'll investigate Swift Linux, which seems like a very good alternative.
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby jjaythomas on Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:23 pm

Not sure if this helps...
This was to try 'Soulus, that don't boot on TC1100 but will run once installed. :?

I use 'parted magic' distro/iso defaults to running in ram. Then copied the 'Soulus' disc to a (its DVD size but swift CD size) to a 3GB partition on HD.
Then used the disk again to run from HD.
Installed system to a (3 partition root/swap/home) created farther back on HD.
Then wiped out 1st partition (where live ISO)
Then re sized root partition to use space of wiped partition.

I was able to boot into 'Soulus' (put grub on root partition)

P.S. May try "solus Again when version 2 goes stable (Happy with a 'swift' Based LMDE) :) (I can install Swift directly then change to 686 kernel) :D

J.Jay
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Re: Installing LMDE on an old laptop (no DVD drive, no USB b

Postby oobetimer on Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:35 pm

How about if you would install pure debian via command line installation, and after installing you could change the /etc/apt/sources.list to LMDE´s list? Of cource you can use SnowLinux as well .. :wink:

http://www.debian.org/CD/
http://www.snowlinux.de/
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