Talk:Installation on ThinkPads without CD-ROM drive

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I created this article by putting together pieces of information from other sources, accompanied by what i remember from my various installation experiences. But i don't really have experience in any of the proposed procedures myself. So feel free to correct anything that's wrong or extend the article.

Thanks, Wyrfel 17:36, 9 Jul 2005 (CEST).

No CD drive, no floppy, no network card

Hi I have ThinkPad 560z that has no CDrom, no floppy and no network card. I tried to install over the network with 3Com PCMCIA card but it didn't work. Laptop has an USB but easy-setup doesn't support booting from it. Any suggestions how to install a system onto it, without removing HDD?


I have a 365X and a friend of mine has a 365XD. He doesn't have a floppy drive, so we made his HDD bootable in my machine. I don't have a CD-ROM drive so I had to install over network. While browsing Easy Setup we noticed that both the 365X and 365XD can boot from PCMCIA. I think your 560z should also support PCMCIA boot. Get a CompactFlash card and a PCMCIA CF reader. (It should be a simple plug adapter that fits a Type II slot.)

I can think about two ways from here. One is to transfer the installation system of your favourite distro (I used Debian Woody) and install via NFS. I think you should load a module to support the 3Com PCMCIA Ethernet card. If you can't get it to work, you can use SLIP or PLIP to make a link between the notebook and your other computer. This method is much slower than an Ethernet card, but you only need a serial or parallel cable. (Since I don't have USB nor network card, I had to install using this method.)

The other idea is to use your CF card to make the system boot from an USB stick. I managed to boot a Damn Small Linux image from my 1 GB Transcend and Kingston sticks without problems on a desktop Pentium with 64 MB RAM with the DSL USB boot floppy. Booting the floppy image from CF shouldn't be much harder. Then you have a running system that can install to your HDD by itself. (The DSL homepage says it "installs to HD as Debian".)

Whichever method you choose, even a 16 MB CF card should do, since for example the minimal Woody installer consists of 5 floppies and the DSL USB boot floppy is of course 1,44 MB.

I hope the above information helps you. --Roci 17:48, 1 July 2007 (UTC)


For PXE to work, you need to have a ThinkPad with integrated ethernet. I think PXE is supported on all such ThinkPads, but am not 100% sure.
If you have Ethernet without PXE, you could use an Etherboot or nbgrub floppy to network boot.

For USB, you could also use a USB attached CD-ROM drive, or possibly even a USB memorykey, assuming the machine is recent enough that it has USB.

Thanks for the hints. Added some statements that i hope can avoid some misunderstandings (USB). About PXE we'll have to find out. ;-) Also I'd like to get some definitive information about PCMCIA boot support in ThinkPads. It seems my TransNote supports this in general, but not with the HP burner i connected, while neither my X20 nor my T41p showed any option to boot from a CF card in a CF-to-PCMCIA converter.

i still have problem with ntldr, anyway if i put harddrive from my HP laptop with preinstalled Windows XP, system boots up perfectly.

Did you read How to setup boot loaders? What exactly is your problem? Wyrfel 21:14, 30 Oct 2005 (CET)

I added a segment on installing via PXE, using Windows as a server, based on my recent experience doing just that on my Transnote. I hope it's helpful; it's my first-ever Wiki submission, I tried to make it fit with the rest of the page.

YakkoWarner 17:53, 16 Nov 2005 (CET)

My 750P has a setting to boot from the network in EZSetup. This is a very old machine, with a 486 CPU. If I had a 16-bit network card that supported PXE, I'd be happy to test it. Anyone got one to lend out? --Whizkid 15:56, 24 April 2006 (CEST)

Which models allow booting from a USB Stick

Especially which X41 models? Thanks Oub 17:15, 28 March 2006 (CEST):

See Supported Boot Devices for that info.

Wyrfel 10:28, 29 March 2006 (CEST)