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I've got this laptop with a completely nicked display. It runs WinXP. It has an external monitor attached to it but nothing is displayed until WinXP is booting. That means I can't change any BIOS settings to boot from USB (it's a netbook - no CD) or anything like that. Can you think of a way to install Linux in it?

Thanks, G

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Often times, if you disconnect the primary display, the BIOS will recognize that and default to what is attached. Although, that does mean you might need to open it up. Does spamming the BIOS trigger get it loaded? Sometimes bios will mirror if 2 displays exist (hit <kbd>DEL</kbd> or <kbd>F1</kdb> repeatedly on start up to try). –  nerdwaller Nov 25 '12 at 19:42
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If you have access to another netbook (doesn't have to be the same make), you could swap your disk into it, install on the good netbook and then swap the disk back into yours, Linux is very tolerant of H/W changes –  Tog Nov 25 '12 at 19:53
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Or if you have another very similar laptop you could go through the steps on that one and record very precisely what you do. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 25 '12 at 19:56
    
Does hitting the hotkey that cycles between internal, external and both displays work at the early bootup stage or is that software driven? –  Matt H Nov 25 '12 at 20:19
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4 Answers

I think you should connect external monitor/TV via hdmi/VGA. This would be the easiest way to change bios settings.

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Hi, thanks for your reply. I edited the question, sorry. It already has an external monitor but it doesn't display anything until Windows is booting. –  Ger Nov 25 '12 at 19:25
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Provided that it doesn’t help to keep Delete or F1 or some such key pressed to eventually get to the BIOS even though the display needs some time to initialise, you could try http://www.goodbye-windows.com/ as it allows you to install a special boot-loader from within Windows which then loads the installer on the next reboot.

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If the laptop has a serial port then you can use a serial console. You will need to select this at the boot prompt (LILO, GRUB, ...) with something similar to linux console=ttyS0,9600n8. You will also need another computer with a serial port.

Alternatively you can temporarily move the harddisk to another computer. Linux adapts quite well to changing hardware. Unless you do something exotic you can just move the drive over from the installation computer to the new computer.

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I think your best bet is to use the Ubuntu Wubi installer, which you can launch once you are inside Windows. I know it doesn't exactly answer your question but I suppose it gets you pretty close.

Clearly, you asked for a way to install Linux and I am suggesting installing Ubuntu and also, I am not telling you a way to be able to see the BIOS while booting up on an external screen, but short of physically opening up the netbook and detaching the display connectors, I think this is your best bet. Once you are set up with Ubuntu, maybe you can switch to a different flavor of Linux from within Ubuntu.

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