Install Ubuntu from floppy + network; no CDROM
This blog entry brings together instructions from various other source on the internet, for a particular scenario:
- Compaq Evo N1015v laptop (“the Laptop”) – should work on many other machines though
- CDROM drive is faulty – cannot boot or read from it
- Network card/BIOS cannot natively boot from the network
- Cannot boot from USB
- The Laptop does however have a floppy drive
- Windows is currently installed on the Laptop
- Another Windows-based computer (“the PC”) is available and both machines are networked and connected to the internet
The objective was originally to have XBMC running on a now-defunct laptop. Unfortunately it transpired that the graphics card was too old and obsolete to be supported by XBMC. Nevertheless, we can still use the Laptop for many other purposes.
- Find out what network card is installed on the Laptop. In my case this was easy – within Windows, the device manager told me it was a Realtek RTL8139 something-or-other. Otherwise, Google can help.
- Still within Windows on the Laptop, use the gPXE ROM-o-matic to create a bootable floppy disk for this network card. Very easy. Select the most recent “production release” >here<. Choose the correct NIC type (in my case “rtl8139”) and click “Get Image”.
- Still within Windows on the Laptop, write that disk image to a floppy disk using RawWrite.
- Following the instructions on the Ubuntu documentation site, download the appropriate netboot files for your architechture and set up tftpd32 on the PC.
- With tftpd32 running on the PC, reboot the Laptop from the floppy (set BIOS to boot from floppy first). This should automatically boot into the Ubuntu installer – select “install” and proceed with Ubuntu installation over the internet. This will take a long time, even over a fast internet connection!
- If the installation is on an older machine, it would be worth selecting “Xubuntu desktop” (rather than “Ubuntu desktop”) at the software selection screen. This installs a leaner desktop system. After the installation is complete, run aptitude from the command line or Synaptic Package Manager from the desktop to choose any other software packages required.
Image copyright © Canonical Ltd. All rights acknowledged.