melannen: a '60s woman operating a computer with ticker tape and blinkenlights  (computers)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2009-06-02 01:59 am

What I did today.

I'm sure at some point, there will be interesting content here again. For now, I'm still deep in the Brokenness of the Computers.

Here, I wrote this up to post to [community profile] linux4all, but then I was like, no, stupid, go to bed, and figure out the easy way tomorrow, they will just tell you that you are being stupid if you ask. But before I go to bed, for posterity, this is what I spent way too much time today messing with:

The short version of my question: I'm booting from a liveCD, and I have two hard drives. I would like to install Linux (Ubuntu preferably) on one of the hard drives. Can I do it using only hard drives?

Here's the situation:

Due to a broken laptop and perpetual lack of funds, I've fallen back on the old system, which is an eight-year-old Athlon-based frankenputer full of bits of scavenged hardware. It has two hard drives, one with a Windows file system, one with a Linux file system, neither of which have a bootable OS. It's currently running on a Puppy Linux livecd (with a saved session on the hard drive) over the very broken install of Red Hat 7.3, which used to work perfectly but at some point after I started using the livecd, developed kernel panic. I have a casual user's knowledge of linux, not nearly enough to be confident digging around in the guts (though everything that's been done to this system is something I've done.)

Here's what I want to do:

Say "screw it" to the whole setup and finally do a proper full install of Ubuntu (because I know RL people who can help me with that distro, and it's well-supported.)

Here's the problem:

I can't get the Puppy install to burn CDs on the ancient CD burner. So I can't burn an Ubuntu install CD. And I'd like to get the new system up soon, without waiting for one to come in the mail. The computer's too old to know how to boot from USB. I can boot from floppy, but I only have, like, five floppy disks any more, so I can't install the whole OS from there. And I tried installing UNetbootin, which the internets suggested, but it gave me "you have to install fifty gajillion new libraries first!" error messages, which, the whole point of the new install was that I wouldn't *have* to find fifty gajillion new libraries that probably don't even exist in puppy packages yet in order to do anything. And all of the tutorials I can find online for installing from hard drive assume I'm starting from a Windows computer, or at least from a non-liveCD Linux install where I can do things to /boot.

I just want to install Ubuntu on this computer! Help?

(I found , which has instructions for doing it over linux, but it requires that I already have grub, which doesn't seem to be how the livecd works, and it may be on the old broken install, but I can't get the boot partition to mount to find out. I repeat... help?

What I can do is install Puppy to the hard drive, off the livecd, but I think it still wouldn't have grub. And I do have my original RedHat install CDs, but it seems dumb to re-install RedHat - assuming it even works - just so I can install something else over it. Surely I can trick it into treating the ISO on the hard drive as if it were an ISO on a CD!

I'm going to try one more stupid trick to see if I can make it work. And then I'm going to just find somewhere to borrow a $&%^#^$% cd burner tomorrow.)

Like my new icon? ;D
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)

[personal profile] zvi 2009-06-02 07:14 am (UTC)(link)
Your library might have CD burners ... dunno if they'll let you save things to the hard drive, though.

If you can't find a burner, let me know, and I'll burn a 9.4 cd and mail it to you.
Edited 2009-06-02 07:14 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2009-06-02 12:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Hmm... I wonder if you could download an Ubuntu image, mount it as a loopback device, chroot and then start the installer? I will experiment with this and let you know!

[identity profile] 2009-06-03 01:21 pm (UTC)(link)
I bet if you had the Server version of Ubuntu you would be able to do it, because that doesn't load up X and a bunch of bloated Gnome crapware.

Is there an Alternate Text Installer that you can start from the Ubuntu cd? I will check..

[identity profile] 2009-06-03 01:40 pm (UTC)(link)
It turns out the normal 'desktop' CD doesn't have this, but I suggest downloading ubuntu-9.04-alternate-i386.iso from an Ubuntu mirror (this is specifically for computers with less RAM) and burning & installing. I briefly looked at trying to install without booting into it, but it seems difficult to do..

[identity profile] 2009-06-04 06:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Alas.. Is there anything that puppy doesn't do that you want to do? Or is it just that it's a livecd and you want it installed as a system, and puppy doesn't do that? BTW, did you get my phone message? I have no idea if I even have a current phone number for you.

[identity profile] 2009-06-04 09:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Hmm, you should be able to use alien to install debian packages without that much hassle, although there's always the library version compatibility issues. Not sure how well alien deals with dependencies..

[identity profile] 2009-06-05 11:28 am (UTC)(link)
Well, Ubuntu (and all Debian-based distributions) do do a pretty good job of dealing with the dependency issues. Well, really I think all modern distributions do a better job than the RedHat of days of yore.. Too bad Ubuntu didn't work for you :(