Bye Windows

october 27, 2007

My Sony VAIO PCG-SRX7S/PB (avery old P3/900 VAIO that is really cool because it is so small) was the last box that I have (not counting my wife's notebook) which was running Windows. Today, I put Ubuntu 7.10 on it. It took so long not because I needed Windows XP, but because I could never get Linux installed onto the VAIO. The problem was that the VAIO doesn't have a built-in CD-ROM drive. There is an external one that plugs in via a PCMCIA card. When I boot any Linux, the boot process would get stalled halfway through -- apparently, Linux loses track of where the PCMCIA card went.  I tried all sorts of workarounds (like "linux ide2=0x180,0x386"). Nothing ever worked. Ubuntu never worked. CentOS never worked. Fedora never worked. That is until I figured out how to install using a mini CD and my Apache server. This is mainly documentation for myself - for the next time I want to install Ubuntu onto this notebook. What I needed to make this all work:

On the webserver (mine is running Scientific Linux, ymmv with Ubuntu Server), mount the Ubuntu Alternative CD:
mount -o loop ubuntu-7.10-alternate-i386.iso /media/tmp
In /var/www/html create a softlink to the mount:
ln -s /media/tmp /var/www/html/ubuntu
If you haven't already started apache, start apache. Now, boot your notebook (or box) from the mini.iso that you burned to a CD. Go through the prompts, when you get to the prompt about choosing a mirror of an Ubuntu archive, scroll all the way to the top of that list and select "enter information manually". The installer will then ask you the hostname of the server that you want to install from (that would be your webserver) and the directory that youw ant to install from (which would be /ubuntu/). Complete the rest of the prompts and away you go with a local network install of Ubuntu. You could, of course install directly from an Ubuntu mirror, but if you want to install to multiple machines, this way is a bit faster.

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