HD Install on OLD IBM laptop from inside Windows?

Forum: HD Install
Topic: HD Install on OLD IBM laptop from inside Windows?
started by: tobydeemer

Posted by tobydeemer on Jan. 26 2008,17:29
Hi everyone-

I've been reading with interest the topics about HD installs, frugal installs, etc. I have a quandary-

I have an old IBM 765L Thinkpad, with a 3GB HD, 48MB of RAM, no floppy, no internet card, and this particular Thinkpad can't be configured to boot from a CD-ROM.

So I followed some tips to install Grub4DOS, which I have. It works and I can access the functions, including one that says "find and boot Linux with kernel installed". When I select it though, it times out and gives back that a kernel must be loaded first. How do I do that?

I have the DSL files copied to the HD C:\ directory off of a CD, so my question is, using Grub4DOS, how should I have the DSL files arranged? I already updated the config.sys file which is how I got Grub4DOS to work. How do I get it to recognize the kernel and start up the DSL installation?

Any and all help would be GREATLY appreciated, and as I'm a relative newb to Linux (I've had Ubuntu 7.10 on my main computer for about five months now) "he-must-be-stupid" spelled-out directions/walk-throughs would help me most.

Thanks for reading, and for any suggestions.


(Edit* I also already got as far as I could using this article: < http://marc.herbert.free.fr/linux/win2linstall.html#loadlin > just fyi. Thanks.)

Posted by curaga on Jan. 26 2008,19:15

The wiki is a great place to start with :)

Posted by tobydeemer on Jan. 26 2008,19:58
I did try to follow the loadlin steps, but I always get a "server not found" when I try to get loadlin from any of the links I've found. From what I understand, loadlin and Grub4DOS do pretty much the same thing, I just don't know how to make the DSL files that are in C:\ recognizable to the boot loader.
Posted by u2musicmike on Jan. 27 2008,13:12
I was reading another post about someone trying to boot from a usb because the machine didn't have a good HD.  Anyway some of the suggestions may work for booting a CD.  

Maybe you could get the boot floppy copied to a directory on your HD.

Then have Grub look for the directory.  

If it works the boot image would look for the CD.

Posted by danielp on Jan. 29 2008,08:24

Try to get access to another laptop that can boot from a CD. Then you take out the Hard Disk from the IBM, put it into that other working laptop, install DSL and switch the HD back into the IBM.

Quite klunky, but it works because DSL autoconfigures itself depending on the hardware.

Posted by tobydeemer on Jan. 29 2008,20:45
These are all good suggestions, and I've been tinkering with it. I've been trying to configure the Windows config.sys file that Grub launches from in the C:\ directory, and I've been able to have it look for the menu.lst file, but I'm not sure how to type the configuration line in the sys file to make Grub look at menu.lst correctly, so I either get a kickback saying "file not found" after a few minutes, or I get one more quickly that says "filename must be an absolute path or block-something" (I can't remember exactly and I'm at work...)

The switching HD idea is pretty interesting and I'm going to try to find another laptop that has a compatible HD connector. If in the meantime anyone realizes what I'm doing wrong on the config.sys file, let me know.

Thanks again for the input and ideas. It's a little taxing, but a fun hack-away-at-it project...

Posted by danielp on Jan. 30 2008,14:48
Usually laptops use 2.5" hard disks which are all standard and interchangeable (if you can get to it that is!).
You may have to look for the service manual of that laptop in order to find out how to open it easily, but I'm sure you can find that somewhere on the net.

Posted by tobydeemer on Jan. 30 2008,20:41
Yeah, the IBM internals are actually easy to get to. I kinda found it by accident the other day. I was fiddling with the screen latches that you pull forward to open the top, and I pushed against them and they slid backward past the stop, at which point the keyboard popped up and I got instant access to the CDROM, the HD, and the battery. There's a tab attached to the HD with a little "pull here" icon...

So I have to find one that has a compatible push-down socket. Maybe a newer IBM or something.

Posted by NoobieDoobieDo on Feb. 04 2008,17:57
Hi, I was in the same situation.  Buy what's called a (I think) 3.5" to 2.5" converter for your laptop HD.  This will let you boot your laptop HD via your desktop PC.  It sounds complicated but it's pretty easy.  

1. Plugin the laptop HD -> converter -> desktop
2. Boot the desktop with DSL
3. HD install
4. Put HD back in laptop.

I spent many hours trying to install DSL/Puppy from inside Win2k using qemu but it never worked.  I'd highly suggest getting the converter.  I've only had it for one day and I've used it at least 10 times already, it's been a big life saver.

The converter I got cost about $7 dollars at Frys electronics.

Posted by tobydeemer on Feb. 04 2008,20:25
Yeah, I've spent quite a while tinkering with it to no avail...
So I'm still trying to find a laptop that has a compatible HD bay, or I might try to find a converter like you suggest after a while. Hopefully I'll get it done soon- I'm anxious to report back how my old machine runs with DSL. Windows 98 is awful on it.

Just for grins though, the other day I booted up my good laptop with the Live CD. It was ridiculous. It has 1GB or ram, and a 2ghz 64bit processor. (Although I don't think the 64bit would make much difference here.) Anyway, it was like having 8GB of ram in a regular box. Crazy.

Posted by curaga on Feb. 05 2008,06:55
Did you boot toram? If you didn't, do! It makes a 128mb box go faster than thought.
Posted by tobydeemer on April 10 2008,13:13
Hi guys-

Long time no update. But here's the latest scoop- I finally went and bought a hard drive adapter and yanked the HD out of the IBM. I booted from CD on my good laptop, installed DSL to the old IBM hard drive and selected Lilo as the boot loader. I tried to use GRUB on the first attempt, but upon reinstalling the HD it wouldn't initialize. So when I used Lilo, it initializes the HD and begins to load the kernel.

Partway into the load process, there are a bunch of errors that look like
/modules/usb-storage.o: unresolved symbol usb_root_hub_string
etc, etc. They all have the same front end with different items after "symbol"

And then after lots of this, I get

kmod: failed to exec /sbin/modprobe -s -k block-major-8, errno = 2
VFS: Cannot open root device "801" or 08:01
Please append a correct "root=" boot option
Kernel panic: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on 08:01

So... what I'd do wrong? I'm thinking it may have something to do with the fact that I loaded DSL onto the HD over a USB connection (though I don't know why it would matter.) Since the old laptop doesn't have USB, are those errors just the kernel looking for USB devices?

Anyway, any pointers would be great. Thanks for the help previously too.

Posted by curaga on April 10 2008,13:29
Since you installed via usb, it tries to boot DSL from a usb stick :p
08:01 is the first partition on sda (first usb stick, usually).

The fix is to change root=/dev/sda1 to root=/dev/hda1 in lilo.conf in the HD install and reinstall lilo (manually), then it will try to boot from the HD. Perhaps add in "nousb" to skip the usb probe from slowing your boot down.

Posted by tobydeemer on April 10 2008,13:42
Awesome. Thanks for the quick reply. Ok, so I pull the HD from the old LT again, and fix the lilo.conf. Correct?

Then I reinstall lilo manually. How do I do that? (I'm "ok" in the command line, but as detailed instructions as you want to give wouldn't be a bad thing for me... :) )

As always, thanks again.

Posted by Juanito on April 10 2008,14:06
Ah - I got caught out like this with booting from usb to make a hd install with lilo (in my case what was sdc3 became sdb3 when I first tried to boot directly from the hd)

You can edit lilo.conf using beaver or whatever but after that you need to do:
Code Sample
$ sudo chmod 644 /mnt/sdb3/boot/lilo.conf
$ sudo ln -sf /mnt/sdb3/boot /
$ sudo lilo -C /mnt/sdb3/boot/lilo.conf

for lilo to accept the changes (substituting /mnt/sdb3/boot/ for whereever your lilo.conf happens to be).

Posted by tobydeemer on April 10 2008,14:32
Ok- another update. I hooked the hard drive up to my good laptop again, and edited /etc/lilo.conf, changing sda1 to hda1 in both boot=sda1 and root=sda1. I also added nousb as a line in lilo.conf.

But upon reinstall into the old laptop, I get the same errors including the usb error lines. When it's installed and I get the kernel panic error, I can't even go to a command line. It's locked up. Rrrg. I'm so close.

Posted by Juanito on April 10 2008,14:35
Did you do the "sudo lilo -C" thing - see previous post
Posted by tobydeemer on April 10 2008,14:43
I can't run any commands from the actual install. I have to work on the files from the other laptop, since it goes into the kernel panic without giving me an option for a command line, and once it's there, I have to do a hard reset.
Posted by Juanito on April 10 2008,15:05
OK, but can you do the "sudo lilo -C" thing from the other laptop without re-doing the install to hd?
Posted by tobydeemer on April 10 2008,15:08
I tried that, but sudo on the other laptop gave me "sudo: lilo: command not found"
Posted by tobydeemer on April 10 2008,15:09
I was thinking of maybe just installing the HD to the other laptop, bypassing the usb hookup altogether, and installing that way. Might that work?
Posted by Juanito on April 10 2008,15:14
I think the usb hookup is OK, you just need to boot the other laptop from the cd again then issue the commands I mentioned
Posted by tobydeemer on April 10 2008,15:24
Oh. I get you now. Sorry.

I'll give that a try. Thanks again. And in any event, I just looked at the HD in the new laptop, and it's so much newer than the other one, that the HD bay is too shallow and I couldn't install it anyway. :p

Posted by tobydeemer on April 10 2008,22:33
No dice. I think I'm having issues with the file path. Whenever I try to run the command to modify lilo.conf, it says "no such file or directory", and I've tried several file path combos, using sda, sda1, hda, hda1, /dev/media, etc. So I'm missing something, somewhere...
Posted by Juanito on April 11 2008,03:53
Can you use the emelFM file manager to navigate to lilo.conf? Or maybe you could use the "find" application on the right-click menu?
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