How can I install Ubuntu alongside XP without being able to boot from a DVD drive?
December 26, 2007 4:22 PM   Subscribe

I've recently purchased a new external USB DVD drive, as I do not have a floppy drive or internal CD/DVD drive on this windows PC. I am trying to set it up now for dual-booting Solaris+Ubuntu but, even after updating the BIOS (Phoenix 6.00) I cannot boot a USB drive. First, does anyone have a way I could somehow add USB drivers as a boot option (along with XP), so that I can then add Solaris and Ubuntu (making it four options at boot)?

Less useful, is there another BIOS worth trying? (mobo = Abit BD7II i845E updated to most recent bios on Abit's site for this mobo)

Or, is there a way of installing Ubuntu and Solaris from within Windows XP?

posted by christopherbdnk to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My understanding, at least, is that if the BIOS doesn't offer the option to boot from USB, then the only way you'll be able to boot from USB is with a different BIOS.
posted by box at 4:38 PM on December 26, 2007

Response by poster: I think that is absolutely correct, what I am hoping to do is boot into USB drivers, which I think is possible, but just beyond what I am familiar with.

I am not very willing to try flashing my BIOS to something else unless it's been tested with this motherboard, just because I don't want to have to go through grabbing a new BIOS chip.

I am sure that there is something like instlux that will allow me to install Ubuntu or Solaris while in XP, but a solid recommendation on what I should use would be good.
posted by christopherbdnk at 4:43 PM on December 26, 2007

Honestly, if it were me, once I installed the most recent BIOS version and still couldn't boot from USB, I'd probably give up on booting from a USB device with this particular motherboard. I'm no expert, though--I'm not sure I have any idea what 'boot into USB drivers,' or 'grab a new BIOS chip,' even mean.

At least one of us is in way over our head here. Sorry I couldn't be more help.
posted by box at 4:55 PM on December 26, 2007

Response by poster: I would have to install a new bootloader that would recognize my DVD drive, think of it as a step between BIOS DVD support and a full OS's DVD support.

If I tried to flash my BIOS to something unsupported and it didn't work, I could be left with a dead motherboard until I replaced the BIOS hardware.

Don't worry about it, I appreciate that you took a look!
posted by christopherbdnk at 5:00 PM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: Any reason why you can't use an internal dvd drive?

(frankly, your external drive is probably just a stock standard ATAPI (IDE) drive in a USB enclosure, you could probably open it up and just install the drive internally)
posted by Oktober at 5:01 PM on December 26, 2007

Response by poster: That's a fantastic idea! I will try that if all else fails. Taking it (Philips SPD3600CC) apart doesn't immediately seem trivial, but I'm sure some prying will work.
posted by christopherbdnk at 5:16 PM on December 26, 2007

Find someone with an old computer they aren't using, or check ebay/craigslist/freecycle - even a new internal CD or DVD reader shouldn't cost but about $20, and sounds like your MB isn't going to support USB booting anyway. Is this machine several years old by any chance? USB booting has been pretty standard for the last several years.
posted by pupdog at 6:10 PM on December 26, 2007

You could give the wubi installer for Ubuntu, which apparently installs an Ubuntu system into a file on your windows machine.

(No, I haven't tried this).
posted by pompomtom at 6:32 PM on December 26, 2007

Response by poster: I went with prying it apart, which turned out to be pretty easy. I sort of figured out how to bootstrap USB support using GRUB, but decided wedging metal into the casing would be easier. If I have a chance I'll try that out, too, and post any results here.

Thanks everyone, Oktober, this worked out great.
posted by christopherbdnk at 6:44 PM on December 26, 2007

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