A man will die, but not his ideas.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fedora 7 on HP Compaq tc4400 - Part 1

Again, I've been very busy with too many things at once. Attempting to finish my thesis, instructing the summer training sessions at college, supervising two graduation projects for this year, completing an advanced digital design course, and taking a RHCE course. So, as you can see, no time to blog once again.

Between this and that, I tried to find some time to play around with the HP Compaq tc4400 Tablet PCs that came as part of a research grant to our department: 21 tablets along with external DVD-CD/RW optical drives, an HP all-in-one InkJet printer, a 5 MP HP digital camera, a wireless access point, a data show projector, and an educational laptop cart. These little tc4400s are equipped with everything (except a built-in Webcam): bluetooth, WiFi, IrDA, finger print reader, etc.

But since the tc4400 comes with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition installed and since I haven't tried installing a Linux distro on a laptop before, I decided to try to prove to a keen Microsoft colleague of mine that Linux can do whatever the Tablet PC Edition can and a lot more. So, I downloaded the latest Fedora release, Fedora 7, and started an exploratory journey accompanied by Linux and the tc4400.

The tc4400 doesn't come with an internal DVD/CD drive. And although the research grant comes with external drives, it is enough that I managed to get the tablet home with me. So, how in the world will I install Fedora 7 without a drive? Well, the beauty of Linux, as I have mentioned in previous posts, is that it is all about choice. Fedora can be installed from a DVD/CD, over the network, or even from an ISO image that resides locally on an attached hard disk drive. OK, but how will I boot the installer? As it turns out, I can place a boot image on a USB stick and use that stick to boot anaconda, Fedora's installer.

First, I downloaded diskboot.img from the Fedora Project main download server (you can use any other mirror). I then needed to get that image on my old 256 MB USB stick. This is usually achieved using the dd command from any machine having a Linux distro on it. But since currently I only had Windows, there had to be another way. Sure thing, there exists dd for Windows and RawWrite Studio. I used the former to write the diskboot.img to my USB stick after formatting it using HP's DiskFormat tool.

After setting the machine's BIOS to boot from USB, I was now standing at the boot menu for the installer. So now I needed a partition with a file system that Linux can read without problems to put the ISO image on. This turned out to be another challenge since the tc4400 came pre-partitioned into 2 partitions: one NTFS and the other FAT32. Fortunately, my dear friend Blade has brought me an 80 GB external Toshiba hard disk drive that attaches via USB as a gift. I can't thank you enough man. I never liked NTFS. And every time I partition a hard disk, I always use FAT32. And that's what I did with the external hard disk. I created a folder on one of the drive's patitions and placed the DVD ISO image in it.

When faced with the installer menu, I pressed ESC to get to the boot prompt and typed linux askmethod to inform the installer that I want to be asked about the location from which I will install Fedora. From the list of options, I chose Local Hard Drive and selected the partition and folder where the image resides. Presto, the installation was quickly up and running, simple as that. The installation process was straight forward and did not take much time (this depends on the number of packages being installed), nor did require many reboots (only one in fact, compare that to a famous OS we know).

Labels: ,

Posted by A :: 10:34 PM :: 5 Comments:

Post / Read Comments


Creative Commons License
Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by the blog's author and included in the "A man will die, but not his ideas." weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

* Java and the Java Coffee Cup Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems,Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.