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Linux, Unix, and *nix like Operating Systems Forum

How can you install on an old win machine if no CD or USB boot

 12:40 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

I am trying to get Linux on an old XP PC. However, the CD is not working and I can't get the machine to boot from a USB stick.

Is there any way to install linux by pulling the HD and putting it in a USB enclosure? I saw some references but it looks like the process is complicated (Some type of bootloader).

I was thinking about pulling the HD and putting it in another machine to install linux, then putting it back into the original machine.

I'd appreciate any thoughts.





 1:09 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

can you load files from a usb stick?

do you have a second partition, or can you make one?


 1:31 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

You need a bootloader cause you have to boot with something. A bootloader is a relatively very simple program and will be the only way to go if you have nothing else to use. Even Windows uses a bootloader to load Windows.


 1:51 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Creeking - It won't load from a usb stick. I did pull the drive and use minitools to create a second partition.

Drhowardf - OK, I'll give that a shot.

thanks folks...


 2:48 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

when I asked if you could load files from a usb stick, I was just wondering if you could move files from the stick onto the hard drive. "load" was probably the wrong term to use.


 4:03 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

I can't get the machine to boot from a USB stick

You may need to configure the BIOS to enable this function.



 7:02 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Would it help to install a USB DVD player/recorder? Relatively cheap and quite useful.


 9:59 am on Jun 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Did you solve this? If you are *sure* that the BIOS cannot be persuaded to boot from USB, and if the machine is the desktop, then the simplicity of installing a DVD drive (fit an old DVD drive internally) probably makes that the best approach.


 6:37 pm on Jun 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

I am trying to get Linux on an old XP PC.

By XP you mean like old Windows XP?

Hard drives can be removed and installed on a computer with more options like DVD, CD, USB, another HD, etc. And you could install linux there and once finished reinstall it on your original computer. I've been doing this because it saves time using a powerful computer instead of old devices attached.

Is your hard drive SATA? IDE? mini ide? there are cheap connectors like US$15 allowing you to install your internal drive and turn it into an external drive.

Actually the options are:

- Remove drive & place it on another computer
- Remove & plug it on a USB device to make it external
- Install an old DVD / CD drive to your computer
- Attach ANOTHER internal HDD with linux to your old computer so you can install from there (if it has ubiquity).

- Attach any external USB DVD or CD and try to boot. Some computers won't boot from USB sticks but will boot from optical devices.


 6:38 pm on Jun 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Mmm there is another option but not sure how could this go: boot from network? some computers allow this, perhaps yours can.


 8:52 pm on Jun 5, 2014 (gmt 0)


First of all, thanks everyone for all the suggestions and information. I really appreciate it.

At this point, I'm probably going to call it quits on this particular project. I don't like giving up but it's not cost effective to continue. Here is a wrap up:

* The machine is an older IBM
* When I look at the bios settings, I don't see anything that could be used to boot from a USB
* The CD that was in the machine was not opening even with the pin in the hole trick. The cd had power. There were no bios settings for the hardware. I swapped the CD out with another on the shelf and had the same behaviour.
* The only available windows user was a limited user. The owner had no idea what the admin passwords were. Without a CD or USB boot, I wasn't able to get to the admin. There was one trick I didn't try which was to copy the SAM file from the backup folder.
* The other day, my son noticed a high pitched whine coming from the box. There is a possibility it could be a capacitor in the power supply or just a fan that is starting to go.

The goal was to get a linux machine together for a friend's grandchild. I have another machine in the basement that is sitting around so I'll try that.

Again, I appreciate the effort from everyone regarding this. I'm probably going to just strip this machine and scrap it. As I'm thinking about it, the machine in the basement might actually be a bit newer.



 6:53 pm on Jun 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

Watch olut for the CPU version. It must include SSE2 capability or some things (including Flash on Firefox) will not work. If the CPU does not include SSE2 then don't bother.


 7:00 pm on Jun 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

@dstiles - Thanks for that info. You probably saved me a good bit of time and frustration in the future...



 8:52 pm on Jun 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Took me ages to discover that. My brother's linux machine worked perfectly, first ubuntu then mint, then FF stopped after a standard update. We reinstalled, poked around... Very little info about it unless you already KNOW what the problem is.

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