The Land of Fernieville

No CD? No Floppy? New HD? Old computer? No problem!

Posted in geek, linux by fernieville on June 21, 2008
So you bought a jallopy (Compaq Armada M300) from eBay a while ago, hoping to use it for a linux box and internet browsing. Ofcourse it came with no CD, and it can’t boot from a USB anything (key or CDROM), and ofcourse it doesn’t have a floppy…you’re lucky it even had a HD.

No problem…here are two ways you can do an install… the least painful:

1) Put the HD in another computer and use it to boot up a CD.

This isn’t for the faint of heart when it comes to opening things up. Most laptops (barring my beloved old macs) have easy ways to remove the old 2.5″ HD…you can use another more modern laptop with a CD to boot say Windows or a Linux distro like (my favorite) Xubuntu ( I really love them!). Ubuntu is finally a linux ready for prime time…bar none.
Anyhow, boot the CD and proceed with the install on that HD.

2) Put the HD in a USB enclosure.
You can either boot up from a CD and begin installing on the USB drive, or like me, use an iso of Ubuntu in vmware to boot the live disk,then do the install.

If it’s a fresh hard drive, then you’ll want to install GRUB or LILO. I used GRUB and make sure you pay attention to the steps so that you can force Ubuntu to install the master boot record on the USB drive. Twice I did the install and coulnd’t figure out why it wasn’t booting when I replaced the drive…it’s because I had not created an MBR. Dumb moment I know…

Once you replace the drive GRUB may complain with this error:
“Grub error 21: Selected disk does not exist”

it’s saying…hey, I know I”m supposed to boot into this OS, but I can’t find the drive(partition)! That’s because when you installed your disk had a designation…say hd1. Now you put it in another computer and it’s designation is say hd0… what is GRUB supposed to do?

Press e for edit, and you’ll see something like: root (hd1,0)
Add a line (command is at the botton) and type root (,0) means you hit the tab key for it to tell you what it did find. For me I changed to hd0 and then I hit ‘b’ and Ubuntu booted up.

Once you’re in Ubuntu open terminal so we can fix this permanently or it’ll keep giving you that error.

type: sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

find where it says “## End Default Options ##”

edit the line where it says root (___,_)
where the blank indecates what you found when you tabbed above.

Voila! brand new install. Feel free to ask questions or ask about your specific situation!

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7 Responses

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  1. Asbjørn Ulsberg said, on June 25, 2008 at 2:23 am

    You know how I did it? I installed Linux from the existing Windows installation through UNetbootin, which over the network downloaded Xubuntu 7.10 and installed it without a hitch. It took a while to find that option, but when I did, the installation was complete in less than an hour. 🙂

  2. fernieville said, on June 25, 2008 at 8:23 am

    nice! I knew about that, except I don’t run windows and I couldn’t get it to work on a linux box…so I gave up 😦 do you need a crossover cable to do it? or just connect to your home network?

  3. Allan said, on August 5, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Can you share or Do you know where i can download the Bios Update for the M300?
    My HD just crashed and i am trying to boot it from an USB drive

    Tks for the help

  4. fernieville said, on September 1, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I didn’t update the BIOS. I couldn’t find the update myself and since I didn’t have the dock, I couldn’t update it using a floppy anyway. I don’t even own a floppy drive anymore!

    I’d love to buy your battery though.

  5. maddy said, on September 23, 2008 at 11:52 am

    do you know a way of installing winows 2000 or xp.

  6. Henrik said, on March 9, 2009 at 4:00 am

    For BIOS update etc, check this link:

  7. Johnson said, on August 5, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Someone please help. I took the fresh hard drive install. In an external enclosure from another computer. Then put back on the Amada, it does not boot up. Please let me know where to get GRUB and where and how to install GRUB. Thanks.

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