Joe Blogs

Ubuntu Netinstall without CDROM


I’m writing this up for my own benefit as it will be faster to find next time I forget.

I have problems installing Ubuntu on my laptop as it does not provide debian style floppy-based installation media. My CDROM drive is totally shot, so all I have is a floppy drive or network card as my installation options.

I found my way around this with a combination of a post on a forum (which I was unable to find second time around) and some figuring out of my own. Nothing particularly ground-breaking about anything I’ve done, but it might be of use…

The method I aimed to use was to get hold of appropriate kernel image and initrd from the netinstall CDROM and then get GRUB to load them.

Tracking down the images wasn’t too bad, and working out the appropriate appends came down to mounting the iso loopback and having a ferret around.

Download vmlinuz
and initrd.gz.

The way I did this method was to do this from an existing installation of Linux. I think it would be possible to do it with only Windows (or other OS) installed and a GRUB boot disk. I may explore that possibility later and write that up, too.

I copied the vmlinuz and initrd.gz to my /boot partition, adding a “-warty-netinstall” suffix for clarity, and then added the following to my menu.lst for grub.

==# For installing Ubuntu Linux==
title Install Ubuntu
root (hd0,0) # partition that the vmlinuz and initrd.gz are on
kernel /vmlinuz-warty-netinstall vga=normal ramdisk_size=11057 root=/dev/rd/0 devfs=mount,dall rw --
initrd /initrd-warty-netinstall.gz

The equivalent Lilo entry is:

label "Install Ubuntu"
kernel vmlinuz-warty-netinstall
append vga=normal initrd=initrd-warty-netinstall.gz ramdisk_size=11057 root=/dev/rd/0 devfs=mount,dall rw --

Then, just reboot (first running `lilo’, if using it) and select “Install Ubuntu” from the menu. That’s all there was to it for me.

Hope it helps someone, even if that’s only me in a few months time.