How to install Debian without removable media>
This document describes a way to install Debian with the harddisk only. You
don't need any floppies, CDs or anything the like. Also, unlike linboot,
this approach does not require DOS. However, there are some requirements
that must be fulfilled:
You do not need:
- An existing, bootable operating system, that can format and read/write Linux ext2 filesystems. It must also be able to mount a ext2 filesystem in a file. E.g. Linux and BSD? are fine.
- A bootloader that can be configured to load Linux.
- At least 2 free harddisk partitions from which the bootloader can boot.
- Some Debian installation files (described below). You can get them from CD or the Internet.
- Technical knowledge about Unix.
If you don't know, what anything of the above is, then this document is probably nothing for you.
- Floppies, CDs or other removable media
These steps must be performed from the existing operation system (OS).
I will use Linux commands to demonstrate what you have to do. You may have to alter the command to work on your OS.
I use the following placeholders:
|The partition on which the new Debian system should
reside. Check the Debian installation guide for suggested sizes. Your bootloader
must be able to boot Linux from here.
|The partition on which the installation disk, the
part which creates the base Debian installation, will be placed. It can be
fairly small, like 20 MB. Your bootloader must be able to boot Linux from
|debianinst on /dev/hda1
|The directory in which the Debian installation files
(listed in the next section) will be placed. It can be on any existing partition,
like $BOOTDISK or that of your existing OS, as long as the filesystem is
ext2 (or FAT?).
Get Debian installation files
You need to get the following files (e.g. via your browser or wget or copy them from the Debian CD) from the directory
dist/stable/main/disks-i386/current/ of your favourite Debian mirror and arrange them in the exact same way under $BASEFILES.
For example, for
images-1.44/root.bin, you do
Create bootdisk partition
In this step, you will create a harddisk partition that performs the same function as the Debian floppy disks.
Create ext2 filesystem for bootdisk and target partitions
mount -t ext2 $BOOTDISK bootdisk
mount -t ext2 $TARGETDISK target
Copy bootdisk to hd partiton
root.bin contains a gzipped ext2 filesystem of the bootdisk. We will mount
that via a loopdevice and copy the content to $BOOTDISK. It lacks the kernel,
which we must add, too.
cp $BASEFILES/images-1.44/root.bin root.bin.gz
mount -o loop -t ext2 root.bin /mnt/bootloop
cp -dpRx . /mnt/bootdisk
cp $BASEFILES/linux /mnt/bootdisk
Make bootdisk bootable
Tell your bootloader, that it should be able to boot the Linux kernel
/linux on $BOOTDISK.
Now, reboot and boot the system on the $BOOTDISK partition. If all goes well,
you eventually see a dialog welcoming you to the Debian installation.
Install Debian as usual, as described in the Debian Installation Guide.
If you are asked about files to load, select "harddisk" and then the partition
on which $BASEFILES resides. Then select "list". The installer (called dbootstrap)
should find the appropriate file in $BASEFILES automatically.
Either select "Make Linux bootable from your harddisk" (if you select "Install
in MBR; if may overwrite your existing bootloader, so you probably want to
install Lilo on $TARGETDISK only) or manually make the new Debian system
on $TARGETDISK bootable (The Linux kernel to load is
Reboot, start the new Debian system. From now on, everything goes normal as described in the Debian Installation Guide.