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I have an old Toshiba Portege 3505 "ultralight" laptop, meaning it doesn't have any kind of disk drive on it at all, that I'd like to completely reformat and install Linux on.

However, it won't boot from any drive (and I don't have any on hand), so I'll have to install it from a USB drive (which I doubt it boots from either). (I'm not sure how to change the settings in my BIOS to get my computer to boot from a USB stick. Any ideas for this?)

How do you recommend I do this? I want to note that I don't want to run Linux off a LiveUSB, I want to actually install it on the machine.

I was thinking about Damn Small Linux, it's tiny and all I need. Any advice or suggestions for something else though?

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most Linux distros start off as a Live OS with the option to install to HDD –  Molly7244 Aug 29 '09 at 19:45
    
Great suggestions, I think I'm going to go through the options from easiest to hardest and see which is the first to work. I'll post an answer back here when I have the results. Thanks for the suggestions, keep 'em coming! –  7777 Aug 29 '09 at 22:54
    
Is there currently an other operating system installed on the machine that you can boot from? –  Will Sep 5 '09 at 17:54
    
Yep Windows is still on it, and I'm in the process of trying to wipe that partition and then merge everything. –  7777 Sep 5 '09 at 21:56
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6 Answers

UNetbootin allows you to create bootable Live USB drives for a variety of Linux distributions from Windows or Linux, without requiring you to burn a CD, or it can make a "frugal install" on your local hard disk if you don't have a USB drive.

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+1 for UNetbootin. I've used it many times and it's always worked great. If you can boot from a USB drive this is the way I would recommend you accomplish what you're trying to do. –  Richard Marquez Aug 29 '09 at 21:58
    
sure is great, but Col is right, the Tosh 3505 doesn't boot from USB. –  Molly7244 Aug 29 '09 at 22:06
    
I'm trying to use UNetbootin first. It hangs on "Scanning for Harddisk partitions and creating /etc/fstab." Is it supposed to take a long time or am I missing something? –  7777 Sep 2 '09 at 5:53
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netboot.me is a tiny bootload that allows booting from USB, CD, floppy, tftp.netboot.me and DHCP with your own tftp server. You can use it to boot installers for BSD (FreeBSD) or Linux distributions (Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu) or to boot Linux live OSes or to start diag or rescue tools. All you need is a network connection.

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From what I can see on the net it looks like you may have a problem since it seems the Tosh 3505 doesn't boot from USB. This may have been fixed in a later bios so it's worth having a look in the boot device section to see if it mentions USB. If not you'll need to do a pxe boot over a network. I found these instructions useful when I was trying to do the same job on a Tosh R100 http://hugi.to/blog/archive/2006/12/23/ubuntu-pxe-install-via-windows

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booting seems to be a problem indeed, it's only a USB 1.0 controller. –  Molly7244 Aug 29 '09 at 20:17
    
+1 Thanks for confirming the problem, I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. –  7777 Sep 4 '09 at 2:26
    
+1 for PXE install –  user7963 Sep 4 '09 at 13:30
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How about to use a usb based cd/dvd? Those where the first to get bios support on many systems.

Or if that work, set up a environment so you can netboot the computer (that is a little bit tricky thou)...

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I got it!

I tried using UNetbootin for Damn Small Linux but it hung up at "Scanning for Harddisk partitions and creating /etc/fstab".

Then I tried UNetbootin with Ubuntu but it wouldn't detect any partitions for some reason.

But the last thread led me to Wubi which worked perfectly.

I will have more information when I can finally reformat the whole machine and have Linux as the only OS.

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And I just suggested Wubi. Try using gparted after install to muck about with your partitions. Palimpsest (aka "Disk Utility") might also be of use here. –  Broam Mar 26 '10 at 15:43
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Try Wubi from within Windows. Depends on the Windows version, though and won't completely wipe your Windows (although a little work would probably allow you to do that).

Or alternately, pull the drive out and put it in something that can boot from USB.

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