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Debian Software Linux

Debian Gets Win32 Installer 232

Posted by kdawson
from the no-CD-no-USB-no-problem dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Debian hacker Robert Millan has just announced the availability of a Debian-Installer Loader for win32. The program, inspired by Ubuntu's similar project, features 64-bit CPU auto-detection, download of linux/initrd netboot images, and chainloading into Debian-Installer via grub4dos. The frontend site goodbye-microsoft.com/ has been set up for advocacy purposes. Here are some screenshots."
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Debian Gets Win32 Installer

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  • Almost Too Easy? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by P(0)(!P(k)+P(k+1)) (1012109) <math.induction@gmail.com> on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:11AM (#17788252) Homepage Journal

    The ease with which someone could blow away their Windows install (and apposite data) is hilarious, actually; the frontpage is slick, and the Debian logo has a nice, clean svg -> png feel.

    The one thing I always felt FOSS had going for it were pious, minimalist interfaces;* goodbye-microsoft.com [goodbye-microsoft.com] is no exception.

    _____________
    * And dangerous ones, like fdisk.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Well, it doesn't look like new users can "blow away their windows install." I read the site that was linked, and although it doesn't describe the actual process or show screenshots of terminals, it does make a huge point of (and so does the ubuntu link) showing large messages clearly stating that your hard drive will NOT be formatted.

      I was kind of disappointed though, because without reading the documents on the site, the average user would not know what the installer is actually doing. They show a screen
      • Re:Almost Too Easy? (Score:5, Informative)

        by NekoXP (67564) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @07:12AM (#17788898) Homepage
        It's a loop-mounted ext3 "hard file" like you get in an emulator.

        The process is, basically - GRUB loads a kernel+initrd from the Windows filesystem. Kernel loads, mounts / from the initrd, mounts the NTFS or FAT filesystem from the Windows box, and finds the hardfile and initrd - then it swivels root to use the image via the loopback filesystem (so you can mount files as disks).

        Not sure how this bodes for expandability of the disk image though. I guess the idea is the Ubuntu install just works, and you can put the data back onto your Windows disk..?
        • by makomk (752139)
          Older versions of Mandrake Linux used to have a somewhat similar feature - you ran a Windows program, and it created files to use for the Linux filesystem and swap, added an autoexec.bat menu to boot Linux from, then used a DOS program called (IIRC) something like lin4win to boot into Linux and fire up the install CD.
          • by makomk (752139)
            Ah, sorry. The program used to boot Linux was loadlin [wikipedia.org]. I think lin4win may have been Mandrake's name for the scheme.
          • by NekoXP (67564)
            That kind of system didn't work so well on Windows 2000 though. I am really surprised it took so long for the distros to work something up for 2K/XP/Vista, I guess the stumbling block is loop-mounting a file as disk space requires write access to the underlying filesystem and they were waiting on something like ntfs-3g - although ntfs write support in the kernel was always just fine and dandy.. I guess it is a matter of quality assurance and safety of data and not technical ability..

            I'd be impressed to see
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @04:29AM (#17788442)
      ... oh, wait....
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ash-Fox (726320)
        I can run Wine under Windows just fine. I used to-do it to get Windows XP only applications running under Windows 2000.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:15AM (#17788260)
    yes, it DOES run linux
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      yes, it DOES run linux


      It may run Linux, but it doesn't run under Linux in Wine! Just complains about missing c:\boot.ini and that my version of Windows might be too old. So where's the Linux port?

  • Has that site been slashdotted? And if so, is there a mirror?
  • Goodbye (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:19AM (#17788284)
    goodbye-webserver.com
  • IE exploit? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Qwell (684661) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:22AM (#17788286)
    What would be funny, is if somebody managed to automate this, and used an IE exploit to force it to run.

    Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible if somebody actually does this.
    • by JoshJ (1009085)
      It'd be fairly hard to put it into practice (would require the person to download a LOT without interrupting the download, say, by turning the computer off- though in theory that's able to be worked around) and would end up damaging the public perception of linux. Right now, most people don't know what linux is or have a vague idea that it's something that goes on computers and think it's for tech nerds.
      A "linux virus" would be just the thing Microsoft needs to completely vanquish any and all hope of peop
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joebert (946227)
      Funny maybe, but it would kill PR for Debian.
      If there's one thing people hate more than holes in Windows, it's the software that exploits thoose holes.
      • by mark-t (151149)
        Hmm... and what if a Windows fanboy were to build it with that very purpose in mind?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Joebert (946227)
          Microsoft would likely be willing to pay said fanboy big bucks.
        • by jZnat (793348) *
          You think a Windows fanboy could actually create a Debian-installing worm? XD
    • by noz (253073)

      I cannot be held responsible if somebody actually does this.
      That's what you think. :P
    • by Oopsz (127422) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:57AM (#17788376) Homepage
      you mean tuxissa [lwn.net]?
    • by the_womble (580291) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @08:02AM (#17789030) Homepage Journal
      Most people would probably think "Windows looks a bit different after that update".

      I told a neighbour recently that I did not use Windows. The reply was "What do use instead? Excel?"

      Most people do not know what a PC is, or that it is a switchable component.
      • "I told a neighbour recently that I did not use Windows. The reply was "What do use instead? Excel?"

        That made my day.
        • by init100 (915886)

          "I told a neighbour recently that I did not use Windows. The reply was "What do use instead? Excel?"

          That made my day.

          Unfortunately, it is probably true.

    • by iangoldby (552781)
      The really alarming thing is that the front page invites the user to download and run a Windows .exe file directly from a web site that he probably knows almost nothing about.

      What should Windows users (or anyone else for that matter) never, ever, do? Repeat after me...
  • They spelled "responsibility" wrong in one of those screenshots:

    http://goodbye-microsoft.com/screenshots/3.png [goodbye-microsoft.com]
    • by chris_sawtell (10326) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @04:06AM (#17788388) Journal
      Your patch would, I'm sure be very welcome.

      You have sent it in havn't you?

      • Logic failure at line 2: Assumption that because someone is willing to take a few seconds to be helpful by pointing out a mistake that is trivial to fix, they are also willing to take a few minutes/hours to identify and follow convoluted procedures for filing fault reports using obscure, over-complicated interfaces that would make professionals weep.

        Would you like to:
        (T)hank them for their help, fix the trivial bug and make life a little better
        (S)implify the "approved" error-reporting process so trivia

    • by stinerman (812158)
      Nothing better to do at 2:31 EST?
  • by exley (221867) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:39AM (#17788352) Homepage
    From the announcement:

    This has a few interesting applications:
    ...
    - Migrating to Debian for users who have no idea how to burn an ISO and/or how to configure their BIOS for CD boot.


    Uhhhh, if someone doesn't know how to burn an ISO or tinker with their BIOS, is this installer really something they should be screwing around with?
    • by twitter (104583) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @04:08AM (#17788392) Homepage Journal

      Uhhhh, if someone doesn't know how to burn an ISO or tinker with their BIOS, is this installer really something they should be screwing around with?

      I understand that it's dangerous to "screw around" with your computer when it's running Windows, but I did not know that writing a file was one of those dangerous things now.

      You would be amazed at how difficult some vendors make it to do what should be very easy. Though burning an ISO image should be the easiest thing a program could do with a blank CD, most burning programs either lack the option or hide it. Telling your computer what device to boot off should also be easy, but the larger vendors don't display the keystroke required to get into the BIOS configuration utility. What should take five minutes can easily take hours and could take a trip to the store to buy burning software. People are usually put off but these types of guessing game, especially when the results are uncertain.

      All of it backfires eventually. A user who's insulted enough will do something about it. Sooner or later, they all learn.

      • Yeah, some CD burners come with decent software, but I was amazed when the Sonic junk that came with my laptop wanted me to pay for some "full version". On the Linux partition it's as simple as right-clicking on the .iso and selecting "burn to CD". On the other, Linux must have the most confusing and insane directory structure ever...
      • by jimicus (737525)
        All of it backfires eventually. A user who's insulted enough will do something about it. Sooner or later, they all learn.

        "The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who, by peddling second-rate technology, led them into it in the first place." - Douglas Adams, 1995.

        That was almost 12 years ago, and Adams was talking about Windows '95. Yet with the release of Vista just around the cor
    • by zlogic (892404)
      About eight years ago I knew nothing about computing except how to install a new game. But I wanted to experiment, so I installed OS/2 (pirated), then Linux. Of course I borked my whole system several times but since there was nothing valuable it was a Good Thing because I learned a lot. Oh, and after a Windows-basher-zealot spends the whole weekend configuring Xorg he'll probably be a little less biased against Windows.
      This distro should focus not on the stereotypical granny or joe-sixpack users but rather
    • very bad idea,IMO (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CdBee (742846)
      I always feel that different operating systems should be on different parttions so as to gve better redundancy and the ability to remove one without wiping the others. It was a bad idea when MS allowed Windows 2000 and 98 to coexist on a single FAT32 partition and this is a bad idea now..

      If the Debian people want to make migration easier, they should built a Win32 app that exports outlook express email to mbx and installs it into Thunderbird, copies over address books, favourites and wallpaper. THATs th
    • by westlake (615356)
      Uhhhh, if someone doesn't know how to burn an ISO or tinker with their BIOS, is this installer really something they should be screwing around with?

      Why not begin with a simpler question?

      The frontend site goodbye-microsoft.com/ has been set up for advocacy purposes

      Why does the Linux zealot come across like a fourteen year old kid scribbling his first obscenites on a bathroom wall? What did we do to deserve a site like BadVista.org?

  • by skiflyer (716312) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:46AM (#17788360)
    I just tried it, it said everything went fine, I chose the Debian Installer at reboot, and I got a grub menu with 3 choices, expert, standard and auto. All three resulted in a "file not found message", so I booted back to XP.
  • Just in time! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday January 28, 2007 @04:40AM (#17788474) Homepage

    For the release of Vista in two days, which will make this installer break! Vista no longer uses boot.ini or the NTLDR loader.

    In fact, I'm using the Vista RC2 bootloader to boot Windows XP. The Debian installer would fail horribly because the boot process would not be altered atall.

    • by joey (315)
      I'm sure that someone will figure out a way to boot linux from vista eventually. In the meantime, I understand that vista has fairly extreme system requirements, so there's a whole load of machines that won't be able to run it, and the installer seems like a nice advocacy move to switch those away from the obsolete version of windows they're stuck with, and over to linux.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kestasjk (933987) *
      Err people aren't going to get Vista on their new computer only to immediately head to goodbye-microsoft.com to install Debian.

      Oh wait.. On second thought that was a bit short sighted of them.
    • by inquisitor (88155)

      You can in fact do the same stuff with Vista's bootloader - if you install Vista after XP, it'll migrate all the menu options across; you could just do a bit of creative googling on "bcdedit" (the procedure is the same as this one [profit42.com] for chainloading a hacked MacOS X boot sector - look at step 13) or you could use a graphical tool like VistaBootPRO [vistabootpro.org].

      I don't particularly like the publicity stunt nature of this installer, but it does at least make Debian easier to install and that's a good thing for them. (Shame

  • By most standards (although perhaps not those of /.ers) I'm no newbie - I used to write assembly on the Z80 and x86. I run a number of Linux servers and am fairly confident with a degree of admin on them via ssh. However, my only attempts at running desktop Linux (without destroying Windows, which I dislike but need) have been abject failures. Sure, I believe it's probably not too hard - but life's too short for the endless pages of details I have to read. Still, I want to do my bit for the cause. The
    • You already seem to know more than me, and I've exclusively run different Linux distros, all Debian-based, for about 6 months. My WinXP install was about a year old and I didn't want to go through the pain of reinstalling all those dozens of programs. Apt-get is much faster in that regard, and with the default install I get a much more usable system than I do with the default install of Windows Anything. I like Kile, Synaptic, the terminal, and Knoppix. When things work, they work better than Windows.
    • by smoker2 (750216)
      Well, lets see how many pages we need.

      First download vmware player [vmware.com].
      Then download an Linux image [vmware.com]
      Unzip the image (if necessary)
      Point the installed vmware player at the image you downloaded.
      Enjoy.

  • Worms (Score:4, Informative)

    by skinfitz (564041) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @06:51AM (#17788832) Journal
    I am loving this 'click here to install Linux' trend - I am wondering how long it is going to be before we see a worm exploiting this to install Linux on vulnerable machines.

    All it would take is a silent installer with a built in bit torrent client to download the files and an XP theme for Gnome or KDE.

    They could even advertise - don't like Windows? Want Linux? No problem - just plug your Windows machine into the net, turn off your firewall and go out for a few hours.
  • by massysett (910130) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @08:49AM (#17789164) Homepage
    I think it's better to promote Linux because of what it does well, rather than promoting Linux by saying MS is no good.
  • by robosmurf (33876) * on Sunday January 28, 2007 @10:35AM (#17789602)
    The windows based installer is an interesting idea, and the Ubuntu version looks pretty good.

    However, the goodbye-microsoft.com front end site is a complete disaster.

    It just contains a link to an executable file. The 'More details about it link' says NOTHING about what it does. It doesn't say what it will install, what it is for, or what it will do to your existing OS.

    I really hope that few people would be stupid enough to run the executable. Getting people to run random files from sites with names that suggest that they will trash your OS is not something to be encouraged.
    • by westlake (615356)
      However, the goodbye-microsoft.com front end site is a complete disaster

      You were expecting something better from a site that calls itself "goodbye-microsoft.com" or "BadVista.org?"

    • by init100 (915886)

      Getting people to run random files from sites with names that suggest that they will trash your OS is not something to be encouraged.

      You should be glad that the domain name suggests what will happen to Windows. Malware does not advertise as such. :) So I'd rather say that running random files from the internet is not something that should be encouraged, regardless of domain name.

    • The site is slashdotted hard. Joe Q. Public isn't going there for a while.

      Now, we just wait 24 hours or thereabouts for the dupe and we'll do it again! Rinse, lather, repeat.

  • I RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frAme57 (145879) <snakefeet@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:19PM (#17790176) Homepage
    and I have one question. Now, I am all for expanding the GNU/Linux/FOSS/BSD userbase, and I am certainly no l33t user but is this

    - Migrating to Debian for users who have no idea how to burn an ISO
    and/or how to configure their BIOS for CD boot.

    really the people we want to invite to the party?

  • Hmm, a total POS - I tried to install it using Wine and it wouldn't work...

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