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I want to install Linux Mint 17.2 on my computer.

Unfortunately, my computer doesn't have a CD-ROM (so I can't boot from Live CD).
It does not have a capability of booting from USB drive (so I can't boot from PenDriveLinux USB stick).
It can be booted only from hard disk or from 1.44 floppy.
Its hard disk has a bootable DOS FAT32 partition and an unpartitioned space reserved for Linux.

I am able to copy any files (downloaded from internet or prepared on another computer) to my DOS partition.
For example, I can install Windows on my computer by copying Windows installation files and starting installation from DOS.

But how to install Linux?
Where I can find Linux Mint installation files for DOS?
Can I make these installation files myself from Linux Mint *.iso file?
How?

I've found this article, which contains a solution for my problem, but it requires UNetbootin to be installed. Unfortunately, UNetbootin can't be installed on pure DOS.
Of course, I can install Windows, then install UNetbootin and that'll do the trick. But I'm refusing to believe that this path is the shortest one.

What is the more straightforward way from DOS to Linux?
Is it possible to make a bootable Linux 1.44Mb floppy (probably not Linux Mint) and use it to boot from A:\ and then install Linux Mint using installation files located on FAT32 C:\ ? (Sorry for Windows terminology)

4 Answers 4

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I think you need PXE installation (boot using network) for it. For that you need to setup PXE server on some other system/laptop. Refer my answer for more information about PXE Configuration.

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  • Booting using network is an interesting idea. I don't have Red Hat machine at my disposal, but I'll try to find information how to setup PXE server on Linux Mint machine. Thanks for the idea. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 5:21
  • @EgorSkriptunoff : If you find my answer helpful and resolved your issue, Please mark the answer accepted. So that, it will come at top of other answers and will helpful to others who refer this question.
    – TPS
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 11:07
  • As for now, your solution is too complex for me. But anyway, thanks. Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 12:01
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There are bootloaders that you can install on floppies that can boot from USB.

I have Plop Boot Manager on a floppy for my old computers and it works. https://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager/download.html

The down side is that if your computer is old enough to have a floppy drive and is too old to be able to boot directly from a USB drive, you might not even have USB 2.0. USB 1.0 is really slow, but does work even with some USB 3 flash drives.

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An old question, but anyway... this is actually one of the few cases in which the limitations of the classic PC BIOS/MBR boot procedure work in your favor for a chance.

You'll only need to copy the kernel and initrd/initramfs files from the USB installation media to the FAT32 partition, and install SYSLINUX, the old LOADLIN or some other DOS-friendly boot loader onto the hard disk.

Use the same boot options as the USB media does to boot the kernel: read them off the USB bootloader's configuration file and write a corresponding configuration for the bootloader on the HDD. Have the USB installation media plugged in as you boot the installer's kernel+initramfs combo from the HDD.

The kernel + initramfs will be loaded from the hard disk by the bootloader, the Linux kernel will be started, and at that point, the kernel+initramfs should be perfectly capable of performing the installation using the USB media as the installation source.

Unless the system supports BIOS Enhanced Disk Drive Services (Linux kernel build-time configuration option CONFIG_EDD), the installer will have no way of knowing that it has been booted from non-USB media - and even if it can get the boot information, the installer probably won't care, since the EDD boot information support is far from certain. Since the initramfs file includes all the necessary USB drivers, as soon as you can get the kernel started, the lack of BIOS-level support for the USB becomes irrelevant.

The installer will start from "blank slate" by identifying any storage devices and searching for installation media/ISO image on them. It should find the USB as a valid installation media just fine, and proceed with installation using the USB media, even though the system hasn't technically been booted from it.

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The syslinux bootloader will boot Linux from a FAT filesystem and can be installed on a floppy. The difficulty is extracting all the relevant files from the distro install media, putting them in the right places and writing an appropriate syslinux.cfg. A PXE install guide may be a good place to start as pxelinux is quite similar to syslinux.

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  • Does PenDriveLinux USB stick already has all relevant files extracted in the right places? Can I use PenDriveLinux USB stick folder tree to ease my work? For example, it has /isolinux/isolinux.cfg file on it. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 7:50

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