Re: installation through Fedora

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On Thursday 26 November 2009 19:45:16 Jerry Ro wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 26, 2009 at 2:08 PM, Mick M. <off_by_1@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > > I want to install Windows XP on a computer that currently
> > > has only fedora installed. It does not have a CD-ROM (not
> > > working) and I cannot boot from disk on key, though I can
> > > access a disk on key on fedora. I have no internet
> > > connection on that computer, but I can still copy files from
> > > another computer through the disk on key.
> >
> > Put the drive into another computer - install - swap it back.
> >
> My other computer is a laptop, so I can't plug in the drive into it...
> I don't have other computers.

Please avoid top-posting on this list. You might want to read the wikipedia 
article and list guidelines:

As for your question, the easiest method is to use a friend's computer to do 
the installation, or borrow a working CD drive. That would save you from much 
pain, if possible.

If not, there are several things you should consider prior to trying anything 

1) Running XP inside a virtual machine, instead on native hardware. The upside 
is that you can use both OSes simultaneously and there is no hassle with 
repartitioning the drive and booting. The downside is that you probably need 
at least 2GB of RAM for this to be smooth enough, 1GB to be just possible. And 
no serious 3D graphics support under XP --- no games and such.

2) Back up all your data. Dual boot setup is always a risky procedure, 
especially if done the wrong way around (the right way is XP first, Fedora 

3) If your hardware is old, and I have a feeling that it is, your BIOS might 
not support booting beyond the 1024th cylinder on the hard drive. This means 
that you need to squeeze both the XP's C: partition and Fedora's /boot 
partition in this space. This might not be doable without a complete wipe and 
repartitioning of the drive.

4) XP installation will not ask you where you want to put the bootloader --- 
it will go on and overwrite the MBR and GRUB on it. After XP install, Fedora 
will become inaccessible until you set up GRUB again from a repair CD or 
something. This is the reason why the install order is "XP first, Fedora 
second". And given that you do not have a CD drive, this can be a big problem.

5) Repartitioning the live and mounted drive is impossible if you are not 
running LVM on it. If you are, somebody else might instruct you how to free up 
space for XP, as I am not familiar with LVM.

Now, given all that, the installation is pretty much impossible without a 
working CD drive. Or at least a working floppy drive, if you are adventurous 
enough. You need to be able to boot the machine off *something* *other* than 
hard drive in order to perform an OS install on it. Also, you'll most probably 
going to need a CD drive later in regular work, so it would be a good idea to 
buy it.

Or buy more memory and go virtual.

Or try out the famous IFBP (the "Insane Floppy Bootstrap Procedure"), if you 
can boot off a floppy drive. The IFBP goes roughly as follows:

* backup all data using the usb key to the laptop (the hard drive is going to 
be wiped out)
* find several usable floppy disks
* while still in Fedora, download images of Win98 bootdisk and DamnSmallLinux 
(or equivalents), and copy them all to floppies; double-check and tripple-check 
that they work ok
* boot the machine off the Win98 bootdisk; use fdisk to delete current 
partition table; create partition to be used for XP later on; leave space for 
Fedora; format the partition as fat32
* boot off the DamnSmallLinux floppy; hopefully it has support for USB
* copy the XP installation on the newly-created partition using the USB drive
* boot off the Win98 bootdisk, go to the appropriate directory and start XP 
installation (by typing "setup" in the dos prompt, I guess); this should 
install XP on the drive
* boot the XP; transfer the Fedora install image to the hard drive using USB 
* download and install VirtualBox to XP
* create small Linux virtual guest in VirtualBox; point it to use physical 
hard drive for its partitions
* install minimal Fedora as a virtual guest on the rest of the hard drive; try 
to put GRUB in the MBR, if possible --- if not, put it on the first sector of 
the /boot partition
* boot DamnSmallLinux off a floppy, reinstall GRUB to MBR, configure it to 
chainload XP
* boot XP to see if it still works
* boot Fedora to see if it works at all
* adapt Fedora to run on native hardware; clean up the VirtualBox mess
* return the data from the backup

Now, if this procedure fails at any step (and I can bet it will), your 
computer is hosed up, and don't expect anyone to help you pick up the pieces.

All in all, I would really consider buying a DVD drive, or going virtual with 
XP, or just using Fedora as is (ditch the whole idea of XP). The IFBP method 
given above should just discourage you from trying out anything so insane, 
except maybe as a proof of concept that it can be done.

HTH, :-)

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