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Is there a way to install debian wheezy on a i386 computer with efi bios using an USB pendrive and the debian iso? What steps should I follow?

I searched the internet and have not found any clear answers.


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migrated from Jan 3 '13 at 18:28

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This doesn't directly answer your question, but -- I would suggest performing the install on a more modern computer then transplanting the hard drive into the 386 when that's done. It'll take you less than a metric eon to complete the installation and will save you a lot of unnecessary headaches with e.g. USB issues. I've done this with many other slow/limited systems, though never anything quite as old as a 386. – asmecher Jan 9 '13 at 21:01
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It's possible, but tricky, and filled with pitfalls. I don't recall the precise steps, but it's something along these lines:

  1. Prepare a USB flash drive using the installation image as if you were setting up on a BIOS-based computer.
  2. Mount the FAT filesystem from the USB drive to some convenient location -- say, /mnt/usb.
  3. Create an EFI/BOOT directory on the installation medium (so, /mnt/usb/EFI/BOOT).
  4. Store the EFI boot loader of your choice in /mnt/usb/EFI/BOOT/bootia32.efi.
  5. Configure your EFI boot loader to launch the kernel and initrd image that will get the installation process going.

I realize this is a very skeletal description; but it's been a while since I've done this, and there are many options and possible variants, so I can't be more precise without putting in at least an hour or two of testing. Also, the last time I tried this, the EFI installation process in Debian was bug-ridden. I hear that it now supports EFI-mode installation on x86-64 systems, so perhaps the current version is better, but you should be wary. The worst of the bugs I encountered was that the installer wiped the EFI System Partition (ESP), thus rendering any previously-installed OS unbootable. Thus, as a precaution, I recommend backing up your ESP before you install Debian in this way.

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