How would I go about installing Ubuntu Linux to my laptop via PXE or an External HDD?
March 8, 2007 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Installing Ubuntu Linux (or windows, if it's easier) on my Gateway Laptop with a dead DVD Drive. Is it possible to do with PXE? Or from an external HDD (it has working USB ports, and can (theoretically) boot from USB) with the CD image on it? If so, how?

See, the problem is that I need a Linux computer to do PXE installs (according to my Google-Fu, yours may be stronger). Sadly, I've yet to get Linux running on my main lappy (an Intel beast), so I'm still running Gates' child. Anyway, just ask if you need more info, thanks!
posted by TrueVox to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Well, have you actually tried it? Boot with a CD, install to the external disk? What happened? Did you get an error message, and if so what was it?

One experiment is worth a million idle questions.
posted by cmiller at 3:37 PM on March 8, 2007

Oh, does "dead DVD drive" mean you can't boot a CD? I think I get it. Try this:
posted by cmiller at 3:39 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: Er, I need windows running to use install.exe, right?

And yes, Dead DVD Drive means I can't boot any optical media off of it. And the HDD that's in it now? Completely clean. Much to my chagrin :(. If it had Windows on it, I wouldn't be bothering everyone here, I'd just use Instlux.

At any rate, thank you very much for your quick reply!
posted by TrueVox at 3:46 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: Oh, and when I refer to my main lappy as an "Intel Beast" what I really mean is I'm a fool, and Dell, not Intel (Brain not function!!!).
posted by TrueVox at 3:47 PM on March 8, 2007

Slim combo CD/DVD drives are about $45 at Newegg. If your laptop actually does have a full PXE Ethernet card (netboot possible from Ethernet BIOS extension) you could theoretically do it, without need for a floppy drive, by just setting up PXE to point to a net install image remotely. But that generally requires a configurable DHCP server on your LAN, that you can use to feed PXE the remote boot image location. You may be able to use a floppy assisted PXE method, described here, if you have access to a floppy drive (or USB version of a floppy, if the folks that wrote the BIOS are real sports) for that machine.
posted by paulsc at 4:14 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: I THINK it has a full PXE card. It says something about Yukon PXE v3.06 at startup (with other stuff afterward). No floppy drive, sadly.

So... I guess my best option is to "rent" a external CD/DVD drive from Wal-Mart?
posted by TrueVox at 4:24 PM on March 8, 2007

Does it have a working network connection? This tutorial says you can do it without any removable media on a windows machine.
posted by Gary at 4:33 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: It does indeed have a networking connection. However, the machine I'm installing to has NO OS on it (not even puny windows). :( It's a completely clean Hard Drive.
posted by TrueVox at 5:01 PM on March 8, 2007

Best answer: TrueVox, you could probably use your "main lappy" Windows machine as a your DHCP/TFTP server for PXE boot by following this howto. You'll be using a pre-built Linux installer image to do this, but that's typical for low-end Ubuntu installs. If you want to build your own distro later, after you've got a working box again, have at it.
posted by paulsc at 5:18 PM on March 8, 2007

Best answer: In that case, they have instructions on the Ubuntu wiki on how to install from a USB stick.
posted by Gary at 5:24 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: Sweet. Thank you all very much! Both of the suggestions should do just fine!!!
posted by TrueVox at 6:23 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: Say... I don't mean to double ask, but can someone point me quickly to a Windows Client for accessing a Linux Desktop over a network? Like Window's Remote Desktop Connection, but to Linux from Windows? Or is that just Remote Desktop Connection?
posted by TrueVox at 6:27 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: Again, never mind. A good 15 minutes or so of googleage returned a little company called NoMachine.

Thank you everyone!!!
posted by TrueVox at 6:47 PM on March 8, 2007

You want x11vnc for running on your Linux box and some sort of "VNC viewer" software for the Windows box. (There are many to choose from; I like TightVNC or UltraVNC.)
posted by xiojason at 9:36 PM on March 8, 2007

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