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Re: installing debian 10 without a cd and without usb but could use ethernet

On 2021-01-20 20:31, Dan Hitt wrote:
I have a machine that currently has linux mint 16.04 on it.

I would like to install debian 10 on it, but the installer really wants access to a cd drive, and one just isn't available.

However, the linux mint 16.04 system does have grub2 on it.

So it is possible for me to boot from an iso image stored in the filesystem just like a regular file. It's just a matter of writing
a menu entry in /etc/grub/40_custom.

I know this works because i've booted into a live cd image of linux mint 20.1 (using the filesystem, not a cdrom), and started an installation process. I backed out of it, because i would like to install debian 10, not just a later version of mint.

When i do the same thing with debian, it starts off ok, doing some simple things like setting the language and the keyboard layout, but then it complains that it cannot find a cd rom. This is true with both the netinst image, as well as with a jigdo xfce image which i think should have everything necessary and not need a cd rom. For reference, my debian menu entry is

menuentry "debian-10-iso" { set isofile="/USER/iso/debian-10.7.0-amd64-xfce-CD-1.iso" loopback loop (hd0,gptNN)$isofile linux (loop)/install.amd/vmlinuz boot=install.amd iso-scan/filename=$isofile noprompt noeject initrd (loop)/install.amd/initrd.gz }

Here, USER is the user name in whose account the iso image is, and gptNN stands for the particular partition where home is mounted for the user USER.

So my first question is whether there's a better iso image i can
use, or if i can fix this up by giving more arguments to the linux invocation line or something else in the menu entry.

The second question is whether there's a way, from grub (grub2, actually), of dropping down to the bios. I imagine this is quite impossible, but if i'm wrong, please let me know. The reason i
would like to do this is that it is very hard for me to interrupt the
boot process fast enough to get to the bios, and i've only managed to
do it once or twice after many tries. If i were in the bios, i might
be able to figure out if it could boot from usb, and i could set the boot order to do this, and make a bootable usb version of netinst (perhaps).

Or perhaps there's some other way to approach the problem? For example, i've already created a partition to hold the debian system
i want to put on the machine.  Is there some way of hand-populating
it? I do have a running debian 10 system on another machine, and i suppose i could tar it up and unpack it into the new partition on the mint machine. But i'm not sure if there's something outside the filesystem but inside the partition which is necessary for it to be bootable.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

On 2021-01-21 13:06, Dan Hitt wrote:
I didn't mean to imply that linux mint 16.04 was the only OS on the machine, or that there was only one partition.

There are 30 partitions, although not all of them have an OS on
them; i have a partition for users so that when i update the box with
a new OS, i can have access to all the previous user accounts.
That's what i> intend to do this time as well.

I haven't put a new OS on the box in the last 5 years, but i would like to update it to debian 10 now; my general procedure in such cases is to add a new partition for the OS, but not discard what i have already installed. The only disadvantage to this is that operations that scan the entire disk looking for OSes take longer.

The challenges i face this time are that the CD is not available, so that everything has to be done through the hd. Further, i only have access to the bios with great difficulty. If i could get into the bios, i could change the boot order, and possibly boot from usb. However, it is very difficult to interrupt the boot process successfully (by pressing F2), because it is so fast. (I could conceivably even get a usb

But the hd is big, and i can make more partitions as needed and populate them as desired.

On 2021-01-21 13:20, Dan Hitt wrote:
he problem with pxeboot, is that i would have to get into the bios to
change the boot order. The bios does have an option for pxe boot, but i cannot reliably get into the bios: after many tries i was only able to get into it a couple of times.

So if i had a way to reliably force my way into the bios, it would
be very valuable, whether for pxe boot or just anything else.

Providing more information will allow readers to provide better answers:

- The make and model of the computer. If homebrew, the make and model of the chassis and motherboard. Please provide URL's.

- How many drive bays the chassis has.

- Makes and models of drives in the computer, and which bay each is in. Please provide URL's.

- How many and type of drive interfaces on the motherboard and/or HBA(s), and which drive is connected to which interface.

- The purpose of each drive, what it contains (e.g. partitioning scheme, slices/ partitions, LVM, dm, ZFS, LUKS, filesystems, etc.), and which one you want to put Debian on.

- The *.iso filename of the Debian Installer you want to install from.


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