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I have an old Compaq Armada M700 laptop with 256MB of RAM and an 800MHz Pentium III CPU. I would like to install Linux on the machine for web browsing and use as an SSH client.

Unfortunately the CD-ROM drive is broken and this laptop can't boot from USB.

Right now I have a working copy of Windows XP onboard.

One thing I tried was putting two Linux installers on a USB stick, and running them from Windows:

  • Linux Mint Installator - installation completes on Windows but shows errors when booting.
  • WUBI with Ubuntu 9.10 and 11.04 - both install okay in Windows, but hang when booting.

Perhaps someone could recommend how I can install any other small Linux distributions from Windows?

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The laptop might be able to boot from network (PXE). There are numerous tutorials out there how to set up the server environment to run a PXE server. In fact the most easy way (if you own another machine) is to run tftpd32 on a machine in a dedicated LAN (do not connect it to your home router as it will conflict with the DHCP server running on the router).

The setup of PXE boot environment and configuration of kernels depend on the distribution you would like to use. Doing a quick google I have found this which describes how to set up tftpd32 on Windows in order to install Ubuntu on a remote machine.

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