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Re: Debian box building - advice

On Wed, 07 May 2003, Ben Hartshorne wrote:

> On Mon, May 05, 2003 at 08:05:38PM +0800, Brian Walker wrote:
> > When it comes to the part where I fire up the new computer for the first 
> > time, IIUC, the motherboard BIOS will send the usual messages, then stop 
> > in dismay. The next step is to format the hard disk. In the absence of a 
> > CD of the installation, how should I proceed? I downloaded 
> > byld-1_0_3.tgz, which gives a mini-distribution on one floppy (I suppose 
> > I could use tomsrtbt as well?) - will that suffice enough to
> There have been a couple of good suggestions so far (with my prefered 
> method being mentioned - get a friend to burn a CD and go from there), 
> but if you are feeling particularly massochistic, I've got one more for 
> you.
> This is NOT the easiest way.  However, there's a good bit of throwing
> oneself into the fire that aides learning.  I assume from your
> mentioning rebuilding a kernel that you have another box available.  You
> could put the new HD in your old box and format it.  You then use the
> old box to download the base system .tgz.  Expand it onto the new drive.
> You have to run Lilo on the new drive (this takes some fanciness
> involving chroot).  At this point, the new drive is bootable.  Take it
> out of the old machine, drop it in the new one, and continue your
> installation using apt-get.

Well, I keep upgrading laptops and hdds without reinstalling, since I'm 

My method is to mount the old hdd read-only, partition the new hdd and 
format the partitions, mount the new hdd read-write, then use pax with
the -p e option to copy everything over.  tomsrtbt works fine if you
don't have a spare system with linux to put the hdds in.  Oh, before you 
reboot, chroot the new hdd and rerun lilo.  You might want to check 
/etc/fstab if you changed some of the partitions around.

My method might not give a refresher course in reconfiguring debian, 
but it does teach the syntax of 'pax', as well as how to partition and 
format by hand (don't forget mkswap), which is a valuable skill.  More 
importantly, it shows how to upgrade a system without reinstalling the

Of course, modconf will probably need to be run to reconfigure the new

        ...crying "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"... ~ HPL
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