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How can I reinstall Windows onto an old Toshiba Portege 7010CT with no external drives?
December 21, 2008 6:16 AM   Subscribe

How can I reinstall Windows onto an old Toshiba Portege 7010CT with no external drives?

I've inherited an old Toshiba Portege 7010CT with Windows 2000 on it. It's also chock-full of viruses. I don't have any external drives for it, and I hope I don't have to buy one. It has one USB port.

Is it even possible to reinstall Windows on the thing? I'm planning on XP, but I guess I can live with 2000 if necessary. But it's the lack of drives that's the problem. The BIOS doesn't have an option to boot from USB. I've no idea if it's possible to change that somehow...?

So, any advice much appreciated.

In case you're wondering, my plan is to use Remote Desktop from the Portege pretty much exclusively, so it can act as a reasonably lightweight and portable visual interface onto my heavier hardware. I'm hoping a wifi dongle in the USB port will achieve this.

Merry Xmas :-)
posted by ajp to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
 
In case you're wondering, my plan is to use Remote Desktop from the Portege pretty much exclusively, so it can act as a reasonably lightweight and portable visual interface onto my heavier hardware. I'm hoping a wifi dongle in the USB port will achieve this.

If you're using RDfW exclusively, another option is to skip Windows altogether and put a bootable Linux image on a USB stick.

You can then install and run rdesktop:

$ sudo apt-get install rdesktop
$ rdesktop hostname.etc.com
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:36 AM on December 21, 2008


Ah yes, good call.

If anyone can educate me as to how I persuade the thing to boot from the USB port, that would be a definite option.

Although.... with only one USB port, I couldn't have both a bootable USB stick *and* a wifi connection. So the installation of rdesktop would be tricky.

I'd be perfectly happy to wipe the hard-disk and install Linux on the thing, or any other OS that will allow me to RD to another Windows box. But the main problems are: (1) no external drives; (2) one USB port; (3) bios won't allow me to boot from USB.
posted by ajp at 6:44 AM on December 21, 2008


You could take out the hard drive and plug it to a desktop computer, by way of a laptop-HD-to-IDE adapter. After that, you could install Ubuntu (my recommendation.) or another Linux of your choice on the laptop drive, using the desktop computer. Then plug the laptop drive back in your laptop.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:25 AM on December 21, 2008


Having once being saddled with one similar old Portege, I can tell you many of those models are unable to boot from USB (the BIOS just doesn't support it). The idea was supposedly that yes, you (re)installed from external CD/DVD drive, and in many cases only certain models of Toshiba drives allowed you to boot from them for doing this. Never having done it myself, I guess doing what Blazecock says might be the only way then. I would just in case also check the wifi dongle actually works for your machine, given how oddly BIOS-mangled the old Porteges seem to be on such matters (again, never tried it myself, but USB flash drives sometimes worked unpredictably on the old Portege I used back then).
posted by Iosephus at 7:53 AM on December 21, 2008


The BIOS doesn't have an option to boot from USB

Blazecock pretty much has it.

If your Portege is truly one of the ancient ones with a PII cpu you're not going to want XP.

Here is some (very old) info on running Linux on your laptop.

The challenge then becomes getting the hard drive out, installing it temporarily into a host computer (via an adapater such as the one Blazecock links to, or also consider an external usb enclosure if you don't want to open up a second computer) and getting Linux on to the hard drive.

I'm not sure about installs such as this. Special attention must be paid to partitioning and the like. Also, not sure about compiling the kernel on one type of hardware and then installing the drive back into your laptop... that is is no go with Windows which usually requires a special (command line) partial-install on the host machine before finishing up installing on the other. Also, much of this maybe distro-specifc, so keep that in mind.

I've had good success with running Damn Small Linux on various ancient laptops. I'd cruise some various Linux forums and try to find a distro that is known to work well with your hardware, with special attention to network drivers.

Good luck!
posted by wfrgms at 8:21 AM on December 21, 2008


Thanks all. Looks like a fun project for the new year.

Incidentally, I wouldn't want to single out one "best answer", you've all added bits to the jigsaw.
posted by ajp at 11:04 AM on December 21, 2008


You can do a repair install of Windows 2000 without a drive which might fix your malware issues.

First off:

Boot the computer in safe mode. Install AVG or do Housecall to remove as much malware as possible.

Get the Windows 2000 disc.

Copy the contents of it to a USB thumb drive (from a different computer).

Boot back into safe mode, insert the thumb drive into the laptop and create a folder on C called "windows_disk" and copy the contents of the thumb drive.

When done, double click the setup.exe (from the windows_disk folder) and tell it to do a reinstall. It will reboot and begin the repair process. Because you are installing from the C: drive you cant format it, but you can do a repair install.

Also, if you have a floppy then you can use this method.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:17 AM on December 21, 2008


Also id be VERY skeptical of some of the advice in this thread. I have yet to move one linux install from one computer to another, especially with such differing hardware. That is the recipe for kernel panics. Step one of the fix will most likely be "Okay insert your linux CD." Id verify that the distribution you are using and the hardware you are using can handle a cold switch like this.

If you want to do the "install on one PC and run on another" trick in XP, then you must use a tool called sysprep.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:37 AM on December 21, 2008


Also id be VERY skeptical of some of the advice in this thread. I have yet to move one linux install from one computer to another, especially with such differing hardware.

I have a Toshiba Portege 650CT with no external drives and no USB. I successfully installed DamnSmallLinux to the drive on a P3 Dell Optiplex (desktop) using this very IDE adapter which I bought for $1.59 from the same site. The adapter works great but the reviews aren't kidding when they say the power plug is difficult to remove. I bought two just in case.

I didn't reboot after installation was complete; I just stuck the drive back in the laptop and booted it for the first time there.

Everything works fine, even all the laptop-specific functions. It's slow as balls but I haven't experienced any instability.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 4:20 PM on December 21, 2008


Aha! I have this exact laptop (and also the later Portege 2000). Both were sexy, sexy machines in their day.
They cannot boot from a USB stick, but they could boot from specific PCMCIA connected CD-ROM drives, or from the floppy or docking station (I have both, but that's no help to you ;-)
If you want to install without buying any extra hardware, do this:
- shrink and repartition the hard drive while still live, creating a new 500Mb C: drive, format with the /s option to make it bootable and copy the i386 directory from the Win2k install disk. You can then install win2k to the d: partition to start with a clean install.
- To repartition the drive I ended up using some Linux boot tools, if you download http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/ you can have a dual boot windows/linux system without needing any extra boot media (CD-rom, floppy etc.)

It was very tricky and took a while - make sure you don't end up with no-booting partitions when you fdisk the drive, you need to plan which order you do things so you always maintain an OS to boot into (even if it is just command.com prior to running the win2k installer)
posted by bystander at 6:59 PM on December 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks to all again.

@ DDA -- yep, advice about ditros and hardware matching is noted. However I do like your suggestion of a repair install. All things considered, that's probably the simplest and most reliable suggestion, so I'm likely to go with that.
posted by ajp at 2:11 AM on December 22, 2008


bystander's recommendation, while possibly disaster prone and requiring the most planning, is very noteworthy. I'll have to remember that one...
posted by wfrgms at 10:39 AM on December 25, 2008


In case anyone is following this thread.....

I've tried the Belkin F5D7051 USB wifi dongle on the Portege, with poor results so far. I copied the installation CD onto a thumb-drive, and put that into the USB port of the Portege. Installed the software without bother. However, now I plug the dongle into the USB port, and nothing happens. No auto-detect, nothing. Plugging the dongle into another laptop (running XP) works fine. The dongle and software were brand-new, boxed, and stated to work with Windows 2000 and USB 1.0 up.

So currently, I'm stumped.
posted by ajp at 5:59 AM on January 2, 2009


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