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(?) Installing Linux without cdrom

From Berry Vos

Answered By Ben Okopnik


The other day I bought a second-hand computer. I already had a laptop-computer with SuSE linux installed, which is running perfectly. I bought the new pc to install linux to experiment a bit without messing up my primary computer in case I do something wrong. The problem is that the new pc has no cdrom. Also, neither the new pc, nor my laptop has a network card. I wonder if it is possible to connect the laptop with the pc with a null-modem cable and install linux off of the laptop on the pc. Is this possible? If so, how?

I hope you can help me.

(!) [Ben] The process is thoroughly described on the last page of the PPP-HOWTO under "Using PPP across a null modem (direct serial) connection". You will need an actual null modem cable ("LapLink cable"), detailed in the Hardware Book (see the "hwb" package), in "ca_Nullmodem9to9.html". Don't just buy a regular "9-to-9 serial cable" from Radio Shack; it won't work. A lot of what are called "null modem cables" won't either. Buy a LapLink, or build one; if you can handle a soldering iron, it takes about 15 minutes.
The one thing you want to be aware of is that, at best, you'll be pumping the data across at just over 11kB/s. To put that in perspective, copying the installation CD to your laptop (this is not necessary for the installation, but it'll give you an idea) will take approximately 16 hours. I've done a Debian installation by pumping across the base install files (24MB, about 40 minutes) and running them, then setting up 'apt' to FTP the individual files from the source machine via the serial link. I let it run overnight; by the time I woke up the next morning, it was all done.
Not that this is a big deal - it wasn't to me, anyway - but you want to be aware of the time scale involved. <grin> I do love my serial link. It lets me get out of buying a PCMCIA NIC for a laptop that's on its last legs anyway, and 99% of the files are small enough that speed isn't really an issue.

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