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TLDR version

  • Can I install Linux by booting the Live CD and then doing a dd if=/ of=/dev/hda?
  • Can I somehow install Linux by copying files off of the installing ISO directly onto the harddisk drive?
  • It seems that traditional ways of installing aren't working for me, what are my alternatives

Background

I recently purchased a Motion Computing M1400 machine and I'm having a hard time installing an OS on it.

I've tried the following OSes:

  • Puppy Linux - Live Boots, but isn't the OS I want
  • Crunchbang - I get installation boot options, but neither the livecd or installation commands work
  • Debian - I can't get to the boot option screen
  • Android on x86 - I can live boot, but can't install.

Ideally my *goal is to dual-boot Crunchbang and Android, but I can settle for Debian. (Even a RH based OS)

The machine doesn't have a CD or Floppy (without firewire), but it boots from USB.

I've tried putting the install ISO on the USB with varying success, the closest I've gotten so far is using unetbootin to do the dirty work as other methods (cp .iso dev/sda1) haven't been as fruitful.

I've tried installing it via a different laptop but the hard drives are not of the same interface so I have to plug the hard disk through the usb. For some reason I haven't been able to install it that way.


  • Can I install Linux by booting the Live CD and then doing a dd if=/ of=/dev/hda?
  • Can I somehow install Linux by copying files off of the installing ISO directly onto the harddisk drive?
  • It seems that traditional ways of installing aren't working for me, what are my alternatives

UPDATE

I've tried installing a large variety of Distributions and perhaps my results may interest others. Sometimes burning them to CDs worked better than usb, but most of the time usb worked when it worked.

Successfully booted, Pen works out of the box:

  • bodhi 2.4.0
  • Knuppix 7.2.0

Successfully booted (sometimes vga port):

  • JoliOS 1.2
  • CorePlus
  • Lucid Puppy 528.005
  • Slacko Puppy 5.6
  • Momonga 7
  • Gentoo Minimal Install (No Gui)

Unsuccessful:

  • Haiku Alpha 4
  • Centos 6.4
  • Otakus 2
  • MidnightBSD
  • Berry 1.17
  • Debian 7.1.0
  • Kubuntu 12.04
  • Ubuntu 12.04/13.04
  • Seawolf (Redhat) 7.1
  • Fedora 19
  • Artistx 1.5
  • Linux Mint 201303 (DEB)
  • OpenSuse 12.3 Live DVD
  • Arch Linux 2013.10.01
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4 Answers 4

I'm not that familiar with Debian installation methods but with Red Hat based distros you can hang the .iso files off of a web server and then do a network installation.

Network Install

If you go to the Fedora website, there is a option to download a network install CD x86_64. This is a stripped down boot disc that you can use to then perform a full installation using the ISOs that you've hung off of your web server.

Additionally you could hang these .iso files off of an NFS share or FTP server as well.

Detailed steps for doing any type of network installation using Fedora are covered here in the official Fedora docs, titled: Chapter 5. Preparing for Installation.

USB installs

I too have had problems doing installations using USB thumbdrives etc. in the past and will often times do either a DVD or network installation since they just work, in my experience.

dd live media?

As far as I know, you can't simply do a dd if=/ of=/dev/hda because there is usually scripts that need to execute as part of the installation.

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If you can't get a live CD to boot, then installing linux via dd is not going to help. I suspect that the problem is that recent versions of the kernel don't work so well on old hardware.

You may find the following page from 2009 useful, it describes installing Debian Lenny on an M1400 Motion Computing tablet.

http://debian.livejournal.com/346277.html

To summarize, the author found that the M1400 refused to boot from CD or USB stick, so he removed the drive, temporarily installed it into another machine, and installed a minimal, base debian system there. The drive was then re-installed back in the tablet and the install was complete there.

Anyway, once you have Lenny installed, you should be able to upgrade to Squeeze or Wheezy - but you will probably want to leave the Lenny kernel installed as a grub boot option in case newer kernels don't work.

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Referring to your first sentence: Would the dd work if I was able to get it to live boot? –  Mallow Oct 3 '13 at 16:07
    
maybe. depends on what kernel+modules are in the image that you are dd-ing. and that's a huge problem right there - where are you going to find a disk-image file suitable for your tablet pc? Overall, your question is trying to solve the wrong problem - you should be asking "Why can't I get an installer cd/usb to boot?" –  cas Oct 3 '13 at 20:46

You can't simply dd iso to hard disk, but for debian and rh-based there are debootstrap and febootstrap scripts, that can help you install debian/ubuntu or redhat/fedora into you hard drive after boot from any linux OS.

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I also tried installing bodhi linux using a 2GB pen drive and:

dd bs=4M if=/bodhilinux.iso of=/dev/(usb)

and works perfectly. The above usb can be used as live bhodhi linux or for installation.

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