Disclaimer: Guide not yet finished, I haven't written the network install half yet, and it needs some polishing, but it should work, if you see anything please tell me
This guide is intended to guide you through setting up linux on a system that doesn’t have the use of a CD-ROM drive. Be it an older system, a lap top, or a system where security is a premium and you want the extra protection of not having a CD-ROM drive, though I hope any one protecting that kind of data isn’t using this forum as a “how to,” so if you work for the pentagon, you can’t hold me accountable for national security.
There are two ways to go about this type of install. The first to it place the iso images on the hard drive from another computer, the second is to install from a network.
Hard drive Juggle
This first part is going to tell you how to install linux by placing the iso images on the drive from another computer, this means physically placing the drive inside the second computer, copying the iso images over, than putting it back in the first computer to do the instillation.
Ok, so first off you are going to need to connect your blank hard drive to the computer that you are going to use for prep.
If you are doing this on a lap top don’t give up yet. It is easy, and pretty cheap to plug a laptop drive into a PC. Search on-line for a "laptop to ide" converter on google and you can find one for under ten bucks, I got mine for 7, I paid more to ship it than for the part.
You will want to plug the drive into your slave drive so you can still boot up your system. If need to boot to your slave drive, you can make a boot disk for you system. See the guide on “boot disks and bootloaders” to find out more on this. (Doesn't exist yet, just post the question)
So ounce you have your drive plugged in and booted up its time to prep the drive. I am going to brake this into two sections, one for if you are doing it from linux, and one if your doing it from windows.
One: From Linux:
The first thing to do is partition and format the drive. There are two ways to go about this, you can either set the entire drive up now, or you can just make the space for the data you need and do the rest during the install. I am going to explain how to do it now, and if you would rather wait you can follow the directions in the installation.
Most linux distros usually have about three iso images that take up a little more than 2.5 gigs. I usually recommend that you make a chunk about 3 gigs in size for the iso images to sit on.
In addition to the space for the iso images, you are going to need the rest of the partitions, for advice on setting up your drive read the guide on "Creating a Linux Drive" but regardless of how you set it up, you will need a root partition and a swap partition.
To edit partition table, gain root privilege, either by logging in as root, or running the command su.
Before going any further, lets make absolutely sure you know the address of the drive you are editing. If your drive is the slave on the primary IDE channel than it will be /dev/hdb if its is the master, it is /dev/hda, if its on the second IDE channel it will be /dev/hdc on the master or /dev/hdd on the slave. Just be careful as you go along to be sure you are editing the correct drive.
Now, to edit the drive, run the command fdisk /dev/hdb or what ever address your drive is at.
To see a list of partitions currently on the drive press p
To delete partitions, press d and than the number of the partition to delete. Don’t worry, fdisk isn’t writing as you go, so if you screw up, you can press q to quit and not have made any changes.
Ounce you have all the old partition deleted its time to create the new ones. For sure you are going to need a swap space, a place to hold the isos and a root partition, anything after that is your call.
First, lets make the swap space. Press n to create a new partitions, p for primary, and 1 to make it the first partition. Next, it will ask you to set the size. The size of your swap space is up to you, but usually twice the amount of RAM is recommended, however, with newer computers coming out with RAM 512MB and up that rule is kind of kicking to the way side. I would generally suggest a swap space of 512M.
Set the first sector as 1, or just press enter, than set the size to 512MB by entering +512M.
Next, create the space for the iso images. Again, n p this time 2 use the default start sector, and for size +3000M to make a 3 gig space. Don’t worry, this space isn’t a total loss, you can mount it back in to your system later and use the space.
Last, make the root space with everything left. You will have to make it bootable after you finish creating it. To do this press a and than enter the partition number, in this case 3.
You will also have to make the swap space swap space. Press t than 1 to change the type of partition 1. Set it to type 82.
Now you can hit p to see what you have, there should be a star under bootable for 3, if it is the way you want it, press w to write the new partition table.
Next you need to format the partitions. I recommend ext3 type partitions. To do that, just run the command mke2fs -j /dev/hdb2 and than again for hdb3. Than mkswap /dev/hdb1 to make the swap space.
Ok, now that the disk is prepped, its time to copy the iso images over to the disk. Download the isos for which ever distro you intend to use, for this example we will be using a RHEL clone called Whitebox, but this will work for any of the major iso based distro installations (Red Hat, Fedora, Mandrake….).
Simply mount the partition to a directory in the /mnt folder, say /mnt/hdb2 using the command mount /dev/hdb2 /mnt/hdb2 (make sure you create the directory first.)
Than you can simply cp (copy) or mv (move) the iso files right over. Use the wildcard * to save yourself time. The command should look something like
cp /home/user/liberation-respin-* /mnt/hdb2
You now have a hard drive, set up, ready to go, with the iso images onboard.
Next you will need to create a bootable floppy to get things rolling.
In order to do this, you will need a blank floppy disk (or one you can blank) and you will need to mount the first iso image.
First mount the floppy disk. mount -t auto /dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy
To mount the iso image use the following command mount -o loop -t iso9660 filename.iso /mnt/iso (Again make sure you have created the directory /mnt/iso first)
Now create a bootable floppy with the boost disk image.
dd if=/mnt/iso/images/bootdisk.img of=/dev/fd0 bs=1440k
Put the hard drive back into the computer, insert the floppy, boot up and type linux text at the promt, follow the instructions on screen and you will be ready to go. When your done, erase the isos and mount the partition into your file tree where ever you want.
Two from Windows:
The first thing we need to do is partition the drive. In the linux how to, we created all the necessary partitions, from windows that isn't so easy, so we will leave that to the instillation process.
So what you need to do is create a single fat32 partition about 3 gigs in size on the drive. You can do that from the disk management tool found by right clicking on My Computer.
Ounce you have created a fat32 partition copy over the iso images to the drive.
Next you need to create a boot disk, the easiest way to do this is to burn up the first iso image, it has the boot image you need as well as the tools for creating a boot disk. If you don't wan to burn up a CD or can't you will have to mount it on a virtual drive, something you can mess with yourself since I don't know windows.
Insert the first iso drive and get yourself a DOS promt. Follow these commands and you will be set.
D:> cd dosutils
Enter disk image source file name: ..imagesbootdisk.img
Enter target diskette drive: a:
Please insert a formatted diskette into drive A: and press --ENTER-- : [Enter]
When it is done you will have yourself a boot disk. Now, put the drive back into the target computer, pop in the floppy and follow the directions. When you are done, you can reformat the ISO fat32 partition and mount it into a useful place in your tree.