Install Fedora Core without downloading or burning ISOs at all; from Windows or Linux
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  1. #1
    gen Guest

    Install Fedora Core without downloading or burning ISOs at all; from Windows or Linux

    Note:
    I haven't tried this in a situation where the kernel image is downloaded
    onto an NTFS drive. The problem is that typical windows boot disks don't
    support reading of NTFS partitions by default. I'm pretty sure it's possible
    to create a boot disk that reads NTFS partitions and I'll try to investigate this
    shortly. Here's a website that seems a likely bet but I don't have time to try
    it right now. In short I can't guarentee this works on NTFS partitions right now.
    Thanks to Riggs for bringing this to my attention.

    It's possible to do a HTTP install of Fedora without burning ISOs or having any ISOs period.
    This can be done whether you're starting from Windows or Linux. The only requirements
    are a high-speed Internet connection, and possibly a floppy drive depending on your starting
    setup. This guide is for Core 3, but should work for any version with an option for http install
    in the Anaconda installer.

    Naturally there are situations where you'd want ISOs handy, but...

    this method has benefits:
    You don't need to use up a DVD, several Cd's, or even any hard drive space. Also,
    when a new version of the Core is released, you're not stuck with outdated discs.

    You may not need a CD-ROM or even a floppy drive.

    Another benefit ties into the first. Odds are you won't install every single
    package that comes on the ISOs so downloading the whole thing seems a waste.
    You can download only what you need now and add other stuff later as the need arises.

    Plus the time you spend downloading the ISOs can actually be spent installing
    Fedora.

    In my case all the packages I wanted totaled 1.4 Gigs. The installation
    and downloading of the packages completed in 40 minutes. Pretty swift considering
    the amount of data transferred. The default install is around 2.5 gigs. Open
    Office Internationalization is a huge package FYI.

    ===============================================

    Okay, now on to the how-to...

    To do this you'll need:

    - 1 - The compressed kernel image used by Fedora's installer.

    - 2 - A way to boot the image.

    - 3 - To install via http.

    - 1 -
    You can obtain the kernel image from a mirror on Fedora's site. Do
    this even if you're on windows. Also make sure you write down the URL
    for the kernel image, you'll need to give it to the Anaconda installer later.
    To obtain the kernel image go to Fedora's website:
    http://fedora.redhat.com/

    In the left hand panel click 'Download,' then 'Mirrors.' Choose a mirror
    that's close to you. Try to find a fast one since you'll be transferring a lot
    of data from this same server during the setup. Clicking on the link to
    the mirror and seeing how quickly it responds is a pretty good speed indicator.
    The .edu ones are usually fast.

    For now you just want the kernel image. All the mirrors have the same directory
    structure (hence mirror). The two files you need are in:

    pub/fedora/Linux/core/3/i386/os/isolinux/
    (choose /x86_64 instead of /i386 if you're running a 64-bit processor)

    Download vmlinuz and initrd.img.

    I would rename the files to something like the following for clarity (you can call them anything):
    vmlinuz-FC3Setup
    initrd-FC3Setup.img

    - 2 -
    The next step is booting from the images you downloaded.

    There are a couple of scenarios depending on what you're currently running.

    1) You have a functional Linux install.

    2) You're on some version of windows.

    3) Nothing on the machine.


    1 ) Functional Linux install. This is the simplest scenario if you know
    how to edit your boot loader.

    First copy the downloaded vmlinuz-FC3Setup and initrd-FC3Setup.img files
    into your boot partition where your current kernel image(s) and boot loader are.

    mine is in /boot

    Now just add an entry to your boot loader. Mine is grub so I add an entry to
    /boot/grub/menu.lst. Here's what I add (paths are relative to /boot/:

    title Fedora Core 3 Setup
    kernel /vmilinuz-FC3Setup
    initrd /initrd-FC3Setup

    Save it and you're ready to rock. Reboot and select the new entry from your boot loader.
    This will launch Fedora's installer.

    2) You're on windows...(like I was Gaah!) Fortunately there's a nifty program
    called Loadlin that can be run from DOS to load a kernel...exactly what we need.

    I initially found out about Loadlin from Slackware's site, so that's where I got it
    from. You could also get it from the actual Loadlin site (http://elserv.ffm.fgan.de/~lermen/)
    but they mention something about patching for initrd support. I'll provide the link to the Slack
    site since that version of Loadlin worked for me.

    Go to http://www.slackware.com/. Click on 'Get Slack.' Select a country near you,
    and then pick a mirror. In the mirror download this file:

    pub/slackware/slackware-10.1/kernels/loadlin16c.zip

    Extract the folder to C:\ or whatever drive has windows. Now copy the downloaded
    vmlinuz-FC3Setup and initrd-FC3Setup.img files into the extracted Loadlin directory.

    At this point there are two possibilities. You can either reboot into DOS, or you can't since
    you're running WinMe, XP, 2000 (I think), etc.

    In the first case you're a lucky dog (I was naturally in the second category).
    Reboot into DOS.
    cd into C:\LOADLIN.
    Run this: C:\LOADLIN vmlinuz-FC3Setup initrd=initrd-FC3Setup.img

    Now the Fedora setup program should load and you're in business.

    In the second case you actually need your floppy drive because you need a bootdisk
    to get you into DOS. You have to be careful here because you've got to download the
    right windows boot disk. It doesn't matter if it's for your version of windows but
    with some boot disks the initrd (initialize ramdisk) will fail because there isn't
    enough memory available. I tried a bunch of disks...the one that worked was an XP
    bootdisk. I can't remember exactly where I got it, but I think this is a link to
    the same thing:
    ftp://ftp.fluidlight.com/pub/nospin_files/wxpboot.exe
    I'll test this one out to see if it works with Loadlin. Should work...

    Now reboot into DOS using the boot disk and run Loadlin using the command above.

    Now the setup program should run.

    3) You got nothing on there. This is still doable. I haven't figured out the specifics yet
    but you can use a mini-distro that fits on a floppy to boot the computer. Then wget
    the files you need (vmlinuz and initrd)...some even have graphical browsers. The key
    is to boot from the compressed kernel image you download. Unfortunately it's too large
    too fit on a floppy or all this craziness wouldn't be necessary. There are
    some more intricacies I'm not going to get into right now depending on whether the partitions
    are setup and formatted properly beforehand. I'll update this when I get a chance.

    - 3 -

    This is the easy part. Anaconda will start and present you with the Choose Language,
    and Keyboard Type menus followed by the Installation Method. Choose HTTP. Now you
    have to choose your Networking Device, probably eth0 or whatever's highlighted.
    In the Configure TCP/IP menu choose the dynamic IP configuration (press the TAB key to
    get to the OK button). It should be highlighted by default.

    Finally enter the URL of the server you want to download from. If you wrote down
    the mirror from part one put that here. Here's what I put for the two parts:

    download.fedora.redhat.com
    pub/fedora/linux/core/3/i386/os/

    Hit enter and you're GOLDEN.
    you should see a message informing you that stage2.img is being retrieved.
    The rest of the install carries on as you'd expect with the GUI interface.

    This seems like a lot of work, but it's really convenient once you get used to it.
    I can get setup started in about 5 minutes. I hope this helps people out.
    Feedback is appreciated.
    Last edited by gen; 7th April 2005 at 02:28 AM.

  2. #2
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    thank you gen.
    I will try this when FC4 is avalaible.

  3. #3
    gen Guest
    Sure thing ilja.

    I should note that this works with the test releases too. I just did this with Fedora Core 4 test 1, which
    is under pub/fedora/linux/core/test/3.90/i386/os/ on the mirrors.

    Also, to clarify the time this process takes. I just checked, and it seems most of the mirrors aren't
    nearly as fast Fedora's main server which is what I used. From that server I got a steady downstream
    of 400KB/s. From some other mirrors I got around 40-50 KB/s, so this process has the potential
    to take a couple hours unless you download from fedora's main servers or find a mirror that is
    as fast.

  4. #4
    ann0yedcamel Guest
    Nice info. I knew how to do it with linux installed, but never knew about the DOS method. I'm saving this info. Thanks.

  5. #5
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    man, i should have looked here before i did what i did earlier on...
    I am installing FC3 on my roommate's PC tomorrow (at his request!), i will do this instead of installing FC1 and then updating through the ISO's locally...

    thanks!

  6. #6
    Riggs Guest
    I'm not sure if they removed the files in step 1, but I can't find them on any mirror. I went through a couple, and they aren't there. I used this one last:

    http://mirror.eas.muohio.edu/fedora/...ore/3/i386/os/

  7. #7
    gen Guest
    Ah my mistake Riggs!
    There's a folder inside that one called 'isolinux'
    and the files are in there. Thanks for the catch, I've gone back and fixed the error.


    Solo.Dev hope this works for ya.
    Last edited by gen; 5th April 2005 at 01:18 PM.

  8. #8
    pdk001 Guest
    thanks for good information
    i will try this when FC4 is released
    i tried to install it thogut internet(FTP) without ISO's cds, i failed
    its not easy for me because of my english broken

  9. #9
    Riggs Guest
    Thanks for updating the article. Did you happen to test out that XP Boot Disk? When I use it, it's not letting me see my HD. I see that it loads my CD ROM drives on drive R: and S:, but when I go to C:\ it says invalid drive specification.

    [Edit] Nevermind - - I know why this part isn't working for me. My hard drive is formatted in NTFS. If your drive is NTFS, it will not be able to be read by DOS [/Edit]
    Last edited by Riggs; 5th April 2005 at 04:46 PM.

  10. #10
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    yeah, everything went cool, but i could not help but noatice that all that we got was the text baised installer, not the graphical installer.... need to figure out how to do that next ...

    Thanks again!

  11. #11
    teknokool Guest
    love the instructions so far...anyone know where I can get a bootdisk for this process? The site listed in the instructions is not coming up...any help would be great!!!

    Thanks

    Jeff

  12. #12
    Vinneh Guest
    I tested this with FC4.
    use
    pub/fedora/linux/core/development/i386
    and your system will be completely updated upon install.
    (but firstboot messes up so you will have to use the Users and Groups menu to make a new user and delete the one that firstboot makes)

  13. #13
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    Would be cool if a bootstrap file could be made and have it even boot from the Internet needing only one mini-CD.

  14. #14
    vishnumrao Guest
    Does this method help upgrade or does it do a direct fresh install. In one of my queries (to ghaefb),asking him the best method to upgrade from FC3-->FC4, he replied that I could burn FC4 cds and choose upgrade option while installing.

    My question is : In case I decide to use this method for FC4 will this do a complete fresh install or will it upgrade from FC3, which I now use, to FC4?

    This method seems very useful, love to try it while moving to FC4.
    Thanking you in advance.
    Vishnu Murahari Rao.

  15. #15
    vishnumrao Guest
    Does this method help upgrade or does it do a direct fresh install. In one of my queries (to ghaefb),asking him the best method to upgrade from FC3-->FC4, he replied that I could burn FC4 cds and choose upgrade option while installing.

    My question is : In case I decide to use this method for FC4 will this method do a complete fresh install or will it upgrade from FC3, which I now use, to FC4?

    This method seems very useful, love to try it while moving to FC4.
    Thanking you in advance.
    Vishnu Murahari Rao.

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