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I have a laptop with no OS installed in its HDD. The BIOS doesn't support USB booting and the CDROM drive doesn't work.

Would it be possible to burn a 32bit installation ISO preferably Arch Linux into the HDD by attaching it to another machine via USB and then do a self hosted installation by transferring it back to the original laptop?

If so would dd command suffice or do I need any specific tool for this? I am fine with wiping my HDD.

Alternatively, what about installing the complete OS into the HDD from another machine via USB ( like say Arch Linux on a USB Key) and attaching it back to the original laptop?

  • No, probably not. the boot indicators are different between the iso (ISO-9660), MBR, and GPT "partition" types, so I would not expect an internal disk to attempt to read a hard disk as though it were an optical, so that it could see the boot flags. – Frank Thomas Nov 29 '16 at 18:19
  • Optical is out of picture here. I am installing OS to the HDD from another machine. – Nishant Nov 29 '16 at 18:48
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Option 1: If the other PC is running Linux: GRUB can boot Linux iso images directly. See here: Grub2/ISOBoot - Ubuntu Community Help Wiki

Option 2: If the other PC is running Windows: EasyBCD's BIOS Extender feature can have your computer boot from USB. Of course it uses BCD, but you can definitely remove the BCD once you loaded Linux. Simply use EasyBCD to install BCD onto your HDD, and then add a BIOS Extender entry.

Option 3: Without any other PC: By borrowing a USB CD-ROM. I've seen them getting detected as a CD-ROM and being booted on systems who don't support booting from USB.

  • What about my alternative option. These are good ideas btw! – Nishant Nov 29 '16 at 18:55
  • I updated the answer with a decent linux option. @Nishant: About your alternative option of installing Linux from another machine, I think it's definitely possible, given Linux's flexible nature, but I don't know how. I'm not much into Linux. – Small Boy Nov 29 '16 at 23:17
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I did this approach and it worked fine.

  1. Removed the Hard Disk from the Laptop and put into a IDE USB Case.
  2. Used another Arch Machine and installed OS using steps mentioned in Installing_Arch_Linux_on_a_USB_key.
  3. Generated the fstab with -L option and edited sdb1 to sda1 as that would be the right device in the target machine.
  4. Fixed the problem mentioned in "Unable to find root device" on a fresh ArchLinux install

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