[CentOS] Installing Cent OS from a usb flash drive

Tue Mar 31 12:51:08 UTC 2009
Robert Heller <heller at deepsoft.com>

At Mon, 30 Mar 2009 20:50:06 -0500 CentOS mailing list <centos at centos.org> wrote:

>       I recently acquired a Fujitsu Lifebook 1610. Unfortunately, the
> machine was missing a lot of the stuff that would've come with it brand
> new, mainly the usb cdrom drive.
>       Currently, I'm running Fedora on it, and I installed it using a
> usb flash drive with the help of a program called unetbootin(Probably
> not spelled right). to load the ISO onto the USB drive. I've
> successfully used the same program to load the Cent OS live cd onto a
> flash drive, and I've run it on the machine.
>       Now, is there a way that I can install cent os onto the machine by
> way of the usb flash drive? I've tried the network install route, and
> didn't have any luck.

I have installed Linux (assorted versions) on various Laptops/notbooks
without CD-ROM drives.  Since you now have some flavor of Linux already
on the machine, you are already over major hurdle.

Almost all modern (RedHat flavored anyway) include the PXEboot images
and will install from CD ISOs parked on a local hard drive, you can do
the following:

1) make sure you have a partitioned off space for the CD ISOs (CentOS 5
is 6 CDs at about 650mb each).  This needs to be fs that is not part of
the install (such as /home).  Copy the CDs (Over the net, from USB
sticks, whatever) to a directory there.

2) from the first CD copy the installer kernel and initrd from the
PXEBOOT directory to /boot (on your Fedora system).  Edit lilo.conf or
grub.conf to include this kernel + initrd (look at the config file in
the PXEBOOT directory for kernel params, etc.  This will allow you to
boot from your local HDD directly into the installer.  Do whatever is
needed to get this installed (eg re-run lilo -- grub just needs to the
grub.conf file edited).

Now you can reboot, select the installer's kernel/initrd from the
bootloader menu and off you go.  Oh don't forget the partition device
name for the file system where the CD images are and remember to strip
off the mount point --- if you put the CD images in /home/CentOS52 and
/dev/hda5 is mounted as /home, your CDs are on /dev/hda5 in /CentOS52
-- you need to tell this to the installer when asked. 

The OTHER trick I've done:

get a 3.5" IDE to 2.5" IDE disk adapter and put the laptop's disk into a
desktop machine.  I suppose there are now laptop to desktop SATA
adapters available these days.  That should also work, but I suspect
there is the trickness to make sure the driver for the laptop's sata
controller is also listed as a SCSI_ADAPTER in the modules.conf file and
a proper initrd is built.  I've not messed with SATA disks in my own
systems.  I have moved an installed system from from one SCSI controller
(AHA-1542) to another (AHA-2940) -- the trick is having both SCSI
controller drivers in the initrd and the initrd re-built *before* the
disk transplant.  I would suspect the same is true for SATA controllers.

> Thanks
> Jim 
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Robert Heller             -- 978-544-6933
Deepwoods Software        -- Download the Model Railroad System
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