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  1. #1

    Install Linux without touching MBR on Partition


    Is it possible to install Linux on a partition on a disk containing windows
    in such a way as to not login through the GRUB/LILO OS selection screen.

    To clarify, I have a system with Windows on it. If I install linux (want to try Gentoo) on a partition on the disk, is it possible to boot into Linux using a floppy disk only rather than the OS selection using GRUB/LILO. What I mean is set the BIOS to boot from floppy and if I put in a Linux floppy it should load Linux from my partition. If no boot device is found on floppy then it should automatically go into the windows default boot sequence without pausing or asking for a OS boot option (no boot: prompt ). Basically I dont want to touch the existing MBR so that if for anything I need to un-install Linux , I dont have to worry about doing anything about the boot sector.

    What I need help with is: 1. Is this possible .
    2. If it is then if I need to remove Linux from the machine how easy would it be to just delete the partition, reformat it and make it available to Windows.

    I do hope I have been able to explain what I need. I am still a relative newbie to Linux. The reason for the procedure I require is that I am not the only one using the PC and I want to use Linux without disrupting anyones ususal procedures in any way. Also it gives me a chance to learn something new about Linux.

    By the way, similar to the process above, if I want to load Linux on a USB hard drive rather than a partition what would be the difference in the procedure? I feel this is also a good option as I would be able to carry a linux system wherever I go and just plug it into a windows system and boot it from a floppy drive without touching any other OS installed over there. I feel using a floppy drive would be a better option as many systems will not have an option to boot from a USB device.

    Thanks in advance for reading this message. I hope it hasnt been too rambling and has made what help I need clear.

    I would also appreciate it if you gurus could point me out to anything specific to Gentoo which I would need to take care of.



  2. #2

    PS: The PC does not have a CD ROM Drive - Quo

    The PC also does not have a CD ROM drive. Any help on how to load Linux from a network drive?



  3. #3
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Täby, Sweden
    At first I thought you meant installing Linux on the same partition as Windows, but that wasn't what you meant, right?

    Anyhow, yes it is indeed possible to not alter the MBR, but only have a boot disk. In Gentoo, you will have to create the boot disk yourself, though, which might not be too easy if you're not too used to Linux.

    I'm not sure about this, but I don't think that you can install Gentoo without a CD-ROM. It needs GCC to install a base system, and GCC won't fit on a boot disk. With other distros, like RedHat, you can just write a boot disk and make it install the rest either over the network, or from ISO images on your hard drive. Genlee might know if you can install Gentoo without a CD-ROM, so wait and see if he replies to this.
    Otherwise, can't you just temporarily plug in a CD-ROM in the computer, just for the duration of the installation?

    Installing on a USB hard drive can be done, but not easily, especially since no BIOS can boot directly from a USB hard drive (I think). You will also need to either recompile your kernel or create an initrd to load the USB modules before mounting the root filesystem.

    Do you have unpartitioned space on your hard drive?

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  5. #4

    Install Gentoo without touching MBR

    Hi Dolda2000,

    Yes you are right, I have free space on my HD and will be using PM to create a logical FAT32 Partition for installing Linux. Currently the HD is NTFS.

    It will not be possible to plugin a CD ROM drive at present (PC is under warranty it seems and cannot get my hands on a USB CD Drive.. if there is such a thing). In case of Gentoo, if I download the Stage 1 tarball to hard drive then I should be able to use that similar to using an ISO image for boot, would you agree?
    Or it should be possible to access the Gentoo CD across a network.

    In case of installing on a USB drive, do you feel it is possible to use a floppy disk as the boot device and somehow point out that linux is to be loaded from the USB hard disk. Just a thought. Apologies if it is a really stupid question but I dont have much knowledge about computer hardware (or Linux for that matter).

    Thank you for your very quick response.



  6. #5
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Täby, Sweden
    First of all, you can't install Linux on FAT32. FAT doesn't have the filesystem capabilities that a Linux system requires. It's also very, very slow and inefficient.

    Anyway, I can think of a lot of ways of installing Linux on your computer, but all of them require you to compile a kernel, build an initrd or a lot of other things that can't be done under Windows.
    Sorry, you can't use the tarball to boot. The tarball contains the base files that you should install on the new Linux partition in order to install the rest of the system.
    Depending on how much RAM you have, it would be possible to access the Live CD from the network, but that still requires a home-made boot disk, which can't be created under Windows.

    As for your USB thoughts, they aren't dumb at all; it was actually just what I had in mind if you were to do such a thing. It's just that I don't know if every that is needed for it can fit on a floppy.

    For the moment, I can't think of a way to install Gentoo without a Linux system to do the pre-required stuff on. I'll let you know if I think of a way. Wait and see if anyone else knows. Genlee?

  7. #6
    Linux Engineer
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    New Zealand
    now heres a plan... get a redhat (or any other distro with good boot disks) isntallation boot disk start ur comp from that. Correct me if im wrong but i think this will make a temporary linux filesystem using ram/(and maybe empty drive space). from here go into a console and run the gentoo isntall.

    ive never used gentoo before so i dotn know about this idea either. but using daemon tools/clone cd/anythign that can mount virtual windoze cd drives. mount a downloaded copy of the gentoo cd's and run some kinda boot disk maker. (someone who has gentoo cd's could plz check if this is possible?)
    once uve got a bootdisk u shoudl be able to sspecify a hdd source file to isntall from.

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