Debian netinstall-usb for x200s

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This tutorial explains how to create an usb-stick with the debian netinstaller on it.

If you have a model containing the "Intel WiFi Link 5100" network card, then a standard Debian Lenny net install works fine and is entirely straightforward. However if you have the "Intel WiFi Link 5300" network card then the 2.6.26.x kernel used will not recognise it so you have to do extra work to get a later kernel used for the install.

The x200s is an amd64 machine, so that is the natural architecture to install. However you may choose to install the i386 architecture instead for better compatibility with proprietary plugins (if you use such things), which sometimes aren't available in amd64 format.

USB stick

Partition and format the stick


foo:~# fdisk -l

to look which device name your stick has. I will use /dev/sdb in this tutorial. Use fdisk oder cfdisk to create a partition of at least 200MB and format it in FAT16 like this:

foo:~# mkdosfs -F 16 /dev/sdb1

Don't forget to make the partition bootable. What looks like this if you use fdisk

foo:~# fdisk /dev/sdb

Command (m for help): a
Partition number (1-4): 1

Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered!

Install MBR

You need the syslinux packet to do this

foo:~# aptitude install syslinux


foo:~# dd if=/usr/lib/syslinux/mbr.bin of=/dev/sdb
404 bytes (404 B) copied, 0.0275888 s, 14.6 kB/s

Get and copy Files

You will need following files:
For standard install (5100 card)
(AMD64 install)
(i386 install)

For updated-kernel install (5300 card)
as you can see i use the i368 architecture, download the appropriate files if you want to use amd64 instead. Sadly there is no guarantee that the daily-image you pick will work properly - some will, some won't.

and here is a self compiled vanilla kernel:

unzip the vmlinuz.bz2-file:

foo:~# bunzip2 vmlinuz.bz2

If you don't trust me compile your own kernel ^^ Get the sources from, untar them, cd into the kernel-source-directory and execute make (assuming you have a machine of the same architecture as the x200s handy), easy huh?

mount the usb stick

foo:~# mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/usb

then create a directory named syslinux on it

foo:~# mkdir /mnt/usb/syslinux

copy all three files into the directory

foo:~# cp vmlinuz initrd.gz debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso /mnt/usb/syslinux

Now create a file named syslinux.cfg

foo:~# vim /mnt/usb/syslinux/syslinux.cfg

and paste following two lines into it

default vmlinuz
append initrd=initrd.gz ramdisk_size=12000 root=/dev/ram rw

unmount the usb-stick

foo:~# cd && umount /mnt/usb

and install the syslinux boot loader

foo:~# syslinux -d /syslinux /dev/sdb1

Finished \o/
Press F12 during boot to select the usb-stick as boot device.


It is not possible to install the 2.6.27.x kernel with the debian installer but you can copy the kernel from the usb-device afterwards ^^