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I tried searching for info on this, if you know of a current thread please redirect.

Here is the thing:

I have a really old computer. It is from a school and running Windows NT. The plan is to remove Windows and put a very lightweight Linux distro.

The problem is as follows: (I am using a Ubuntu live disk) I go to the boot manager and have the option to use Floppy, PXE, Hard drive. I put the hard drive last, the CD drive is not accessed since Ubuntu live CD isn't launched.

Further, the problem is that, when I get into Windows NT it has everything disabled, cannot use command prompt, cannot access CD drive etc... all permissions taken away.

I need some advice on what do to as far as getting around this. Further, I was wondering of a very small Linux distro that has little to no GUI. just terminal would be best.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Nov 9 '09 at 0:43

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2  
oh dear, HOW old? if CDROM is not an option in the BIOS the CDROM drive is possibly connected to an ATA interface on the sound card. –  Molly7244 Nov 9 '09 at 0:59
    
@Molly: he did say "running WinNT" not "running Win2000" or "running WinXP"... we can only pray he means NT 4, and not ... NT 3.5... –  quack quixote Nov 9 '09 at 1:31

2 Answers 2

I've used PXE to boot the Debian installer before on machines which didn't seem able to boot from CD or USB. Details here. You'll need another LAN machine to host a tftp and DCHP server. Once you've got a few installs via PXE under your belt you'll start thinking it's actually easier than burning a CD, since it can be done entirely online (download images, untar to tftp server, config DHCP, power-up client...).

You don't necessarily need a special lightweight distro (unless you have a truly pitiful amount of memory or a fossil of a processor); Debian can be a good fit to old hardware if you don't select the installer's desktop profile (all of Gnome and KDE). Post-install, just manually install xorg and (say) fluxbox and whatever apps you think are lightweight enough.

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1  
You may want to give Tiny Core Linux a shot. I have been very happy with the performance of it, and it has a lot of the modern niceties that sometimes get dropped from micro distros. tinycorelinux.com –  Goyuix Nov 9 '09 at 2:42
    
Or try Haiku -- haiku-os.org –  JoelFan Nov 9 '09 at 5:06

One way to fix this is to use: SmartBootManager. You use a Windows utility that has been floating around ~~forever, called rawrite, to write a sbm.bin to the floppy. It can then handle booting the CD. Or, just use a random Linux system and dd(1) sbm to the floppy.

See the Ubuntu SmartBootManager page.

Alternatively, you could install a system like NetBSD that still has a floppy-based installer, but it isn't that much easier.

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