LinuxFilter: Install Linux on laptop from Floppy?
November 22, 2005 12:50 PM   Subscribe

LinuxFilter: Install Linux on laptop from Floppy?

Okay, so I have an older laptop (Gateway). It has a floppy and a CDROM, but the BIOS is password-locked, and I can't get in there to add the CD-ROM to the boot sequence. Therefore, I can only boot from floppy.

I would like to install Linux on the laptop (maybe DSL, maybe Ubutu). Is this as simple as creating a Linux boot floppy, and then running the distro installer from the CD? Or do I need to find a distro that will install from floppy (and CD?). If so, any recommendations?
posted by noahv to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
I think Slackware can boot from floppy and install from CD. That used to be the way to do it, before bootable CDs became common. I don't know whether other distros still have bootable, installable floppy images.
posted by spacewrench at 12:57 PM on November 22, 2005

slak used to only come on floppies ^_^
(well I guess all lunix did back then)

what you need to do is get a basic linux boot floppy (e.g.)and at the boot prompt give it the commands to boot the cd of your choice

alternately, here's a listing of small / floppy based distros.
posted by dorian at 12:58 PM on November 22, 2005

also also: there may be a way to unlock the bios. since it's a laptop who knows if it has a clear-cmos jumper somewheres inside or not. but e.g. if you can flash a bios upgrade (even if it's the same bios version it currently has) that may wipe out the current bios settings back to default.
posted by dorian at 1:05 PM on November 22, 2005

Most (all?) distros have some way of installing from a floppy. You did Google first, right?

If you open the laptop and find the CMOS battery (looks like a watch battery), and remove it for at least 10 minutes (capacitors...), the BIOS will be reset to a non-passworded state. Google "bypass bios password".
posted by jellicle at 1:11 PM on November 22, 2005

Your distro probably has a network install option. Grab netboot.img and install over a network.
posted by cmonkey at 1:16 PM on November 22, 2005

Here's how to do a fedora core installation from floppy. The linux kernel is bigger than floppy capacity now (you've come a long way, nerds!), so you have to bootstrap it. I couldn't find an equivalent for Ubuntu, but Fedora is better anyway XD.
posted by moift at 1:28 PM on November 22, 2005

As someone noted the last time I mentioned that, Fedora is a uniquely bad choice for old hardware out of the box, but just like anything else you can set it up with a lightweight desktop and whatnot.
posted by moift at 1:53 PM on November 22, 2005

Linux on vintage laptops was discussed a few days ago here. If the bits about first Linux experience don't apply to you, then strongly seconding the network install suggestion.
posted by mendel at 2:01 PM on November 22, 2005

Take out the laptop battery. Pop the laptop open (not as scary as you'd think); find the CMOS battery (round and flat, usually); take it out; wait an hour (to be safe); put it back in. No password.

Disclaimer: do at your own risk, i am not responsible if you screw up your computer, etc.
posted by ori at 3:27 PM on November 22, 2005

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