Ubuntu Netinstall without CDROM

By | 9th January 2005

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.

8 thoughts on “Ubuntu Netinstall without CDROM

  1. miss tress

    heyas all.
    my 40 gig drive is going to good use now. I have installed UBUNTU and have ordered KUBUNTU.
    I dont know how to install the driver for my ati radeon 9600xt.
    Actually i dont know if i am meant to be downloading and installing XFREE86 or the XORG version of the driver. I am downloading them both but i dont know how to do anything in Linux really.
    I dont know where I am meant to set up my modem or set up a net account. (no INETWIZ.EXE)
    So yeah, can someone help me out with getting my ATI driver installed?
    and does anyone know of a good long PDF file i can read and wrap my brain around.
    I’m still a Windows user, but I want to use Linux as much as possible.
    Thanks. 🙂

  2. kameron

    this works for feisty aswell. excellent excellent write up! if you could format your grub line a little better, you should definitely post this in the wiki. with a bad cd drive this is the only reasonable way of installing ubuntu, as the net install floppies are for warty and you can’t get repos for them as they’re unsupported.

    i got vmlinuz (linux) and initrd.gz from the mini.iso as posted above.

    renamed them vmlinuz-feisty and initrd-feisty.gz, put them both in /boot

    then add these lines to /boot/grub/menu.list :

    For installing Ubuntu

    title Install Ubuntu
    root (hd0,0)
    kernel /boot/vmlinuz-feisty vga=normal ramdisksize=11057 root=/dev/rd/0 devfs=mount,dall rw –
    initrd /boot/initrd-feisty.gz

    thanks again!

  3. kameron

    net installed debian then net installed ubuntu from that system with the latest feisty kernel and ramdisk. awesome, really the only choice i had to install on this old laptop.

    thanks a bunch!

  4. Rico

    What If I have the most current SuSe 10 installed on a PC, also have a running network where I can atleast find under my notebook and upload to a “Windows” OS folder. The other way around is yet to tricky since I’m new to linux. ^^

    Anyway, I wish to install Fedora 8 over onto my notebook where the CDROM drive also doesn’t work.

    Could someone help me out with the steps.


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