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How to install linux from floppy, without a bootable cdrom drive?

Hi all,
I recently acquired a Dell PowerEdge 2300.  The bios in this
particular machine will only allow me to boot from floppy or hard
drive.  The CDrom drive is not bootable.  It's very frustrating.  I
tried the Dell forums first, but it seems there is no way to boot from
this CDrom.

I would like to install linux on it, but can't find any direction on
how to do so from a FLOPPY disk.
With the size of the linux kernel today, is it still possible to boot
from floppy to install linux?
I would prefer to install RedHat or Fedora, but any linux flavor would
be fine for this machine.
I really need some help.  Please?

-Steve in Phx.

0
two_wheeled
6/19/2007 5:26:04 AM
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On Mon, 18 Jun 2007 22:26:04 -0700, two_wheeled wrote:

> Hi all,
> I recently acquired a Dell PowerEdge 2300.  The bios in this
> particular machine will only allow me to boot from floppy or hard
> drive.  The CDrom drive is not bootable.  It's very frustrating.  I
> tried the Dell forums first, but it seems there is no way to boot from
> this CDrom.
> 
> I would like to install linux on it, but can't find any direction on
> how to do so from a FLOPPY disk.
> With the size of the linux kernel today, is it still possible to boot
> from floppy to install linux?
> I would prefer to install RedHat or Fedora, but any linux flavor would
> be fine for this machine.
> I really need some help.  Please?
> 
> -Steve in Phx.
>
There is an interesting old utility which makes it possible to boot
cds/dvds when BIOS support is lacking.  I read about the method here: 
http://gentoo-wiki.com/TIP_Chainloading_a_bootable_CD-ROM_from_GRUB

You can build your own as explained there. I posted a bootable floppy
image with instructions and disclaimers here:
http://groups.google.com/group/comp.os.linux.setup/msg/e56c561db0f77fa9

-- 
Douglas Mayne
0
Douglas
6/19/2007 1:08:31 PM
Thanks!  I'll try that.
Are there any distributions that still support a boot floppy?

0
two_wheeled
6/19/2007 2:36:46 PM
I demand that two_wheeled@hotmail.com may or may not have written...

> Thanks!  I'll try that.
> Are there any distributions that still support a boot floppy?

Debian etch install CDs contain floppy images, at least for i386 and amd64.
install/sbm.bin is present for both architectures, useful where boot-from-CD
isn't working via the BIOS; and install.386/floppy/ contains three images -
boot.img, root.img and cd-drivers.img - which you can use in that order for
starting an install from floppy.

-- 
| Darren Salt    | linux or ds at              | nr. Ashington, | Toon
| RISC OS, Linux | youmustbejoking,demon,co,uk | Northumberland | Army
| + Generate power using sun, wind, water, nuclear.      FORGET COAL AND OIL.

Confucius say: Large mouth, big foot.
0
Darren
6/19/2007 2:48:26 PM
On Tue, 19 Jun 2007 07:36:46 -0700, two_wheeled wrote:

> Thanks!  I'll try that.
> Are there any distributions that still support a boot floppy?
>
Floppy based systems are becoming very rare with modern hardware and with
user expectations. Users don't expect their system to remain crippled due
to restriction imposed at boot. The 2.6.x kernel makes it very difficult
to stay within a 1.4M limit for floppies, even with modular kernels. The
user expects a fully functional system, even on old hardware. The high
capacities provided by optical media (DVD/CD) and flash memory make using
a floppy seem outdated. Your case (old hardware without BIOS support) is
the one case where floppy setup is still the only method to get going.

I've lost interest in very low spec systems, but at one time I
tested coyote linux (a small, floppy based system). Damn Small Linux is
probably the most popular of the minimalist systems. I just prefer the
full set of software- I'm spoiled. The complete set that I use fits on a
DVD (4G). 128M of system RAM is the minimum I'll fool with, too.

OT: I see you are posting from Google. It is considered good posting style
to quote some context when replying, and to not top post, etc. This group
has agreed to use these usenet etiquette guidelines.

-- 
Douglas Mayne

0
Douglas
6/19/2007 3:07:03 PM
On 19 Jun, 06:26, two_whee...@hotmail.com wrote:
> Hi all,
> I recently acquired a Dell PowerEdge 2300.  The bios in this
> particular machine will only allow me to boot from floppy or hard
> drive.  The CDrom drive is not bootable.  It's very frustrating.  I
> tried the Dell forums first, but it seems there is no way to boot from
> this CDrom.

Why not open the box and plug in a separte CD drive? Or most
PowerEdge's can network boot: or can you use a USB boot device?

It's become increasingly difficult to fit a fully equipped kernel and
installation tools into a floppy, which is partly why they've faded
out of use so much.

0
Nico
6/20/2007 6:14:11 AM
Nico wrote:

> On 19 Jun, 06:26, two_whee...@hotmail.com wrote:

>> I recently acquired a Dell PowerEdge 2300.  The bios in this
>> particular machine will only allow me to boot from floppy or hard
>> drive.  The CDrom drive is not bootable.  It's very frustrating.  I
>> tried the Dell forums first, but it seems there is no way to boot from
>> this CDrom.
> 
> Why not open the box and plug in a separte CD drive? Or most
> PowerEdge's can network boot: or can you use a USB boot device?
> 
> It's become increasingly difficult to fit a fully equipped kernel and
> installation tools into a floppy, which is partly why they've faded
> out of use so much.

I've never done this,
but I'm pretty sure it is possible to boot from a floppy
without putting the kernel on it.
I googled for "linux boot floppy" and got quite a few responses,
including <http://www.linuxmigration.com/quickref/install/media.html>
which seemed to contain a recipe for this.

I'm not sure if this is the same idea,
but I think you can create a grub floppy
which will serve the same purpose.

Also tomsrtbt is a very useful floppy
which allows you to partition your hard disk (if you want)
and manipulate it in various ways.
I think you could use it to transfer vmlinuz and initrd
to /boot on your hard disk,
and then you could add a stanza to grub.conf to boot from this.

In brief, I am pretty sure it is possible to do what you want,
if you undertake a little research.

-- 
Timothy Murphy  
e-mail (<80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
tel: +353-86-2336090, +353-1-2842366
s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland
0
Timothy
6/20/2007 11:40:56 AM
On Mon, 18 Jun 2007 22:26:04 -0700, two_wheeled wrote:

> Hi all,
> I recently acquired a Dell PowerEdge 2300.  The bios in this particular
> machine will only allow me to boot from floppy or hard drive.  The CDrom
> drive is not bootable.  It's very frustrating.  I tried the Dell forums
> first, but it seems there is no way to boot from this CDrom.
> 
> I would like to install linux on it, but can't find any direction on how
> to do so from a FLOPPY disk.
> With the size of the linux kernel today, is it still possible to boot
> from floppy to install linux?
> I would prefer to install RedHat or Fedora, but any linux flavor would
> be fine for this machine.
> I really need some help.  Please?

Debian (www.debian.org) and ArchLinux (www.archlinux.org) both have a 
boot floppy install option for those systems that can't boot off the CD-
ROM.  Both can also do a network install, if you prefer, but you'll need 
a high speed connection, if you don't want the install to take a week. ;-)

I just installed Debian Sarge (2.6 kernel) on a Thinkpad 240X which has a 
non-bootable USB CD.  Worked just fine.  (You'll only need Disks 1 and 2 
for a normal install with GUI.)  Tried Debian Etch, but it didn't have 
the driver for my CD-ROM on the driver floppy, and was unable to transfer 
the install over to the CD.  Too old, I guess.  I'm going to try to do a 
distro-upgrade -- Sarge to Etch -- via the net once I get everything 
configured.

Haven't tried Arch other than reading the docs.  It seems way too cutting 
edge for such an old (7+ years) notebook.

Stef
0
Stefan
6/21/2007 6:12:39 AM
two_wheeled@hotmail.com wrote:
> Thanks!  I'll try that.
> Are there any distributions that still support a boot floppy?
> 
Redhat 5 or 6 IIRC
regards
Esben I.
0
Esben
7/12/2007 11:50:56 PM
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