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Debian Operating Systems Software Windows Linux

Debian win32-loader Goes Official 246

Posted by kdawson
from the like-a-live-cd-on-steroids dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After a long process of review and polishing, the win32 loader from goodbye-microsoft.com has finally made its way to official Debian CDs. Latest daily builds of lenny (the development version) are including it, making starting Debian Installer as simple as just a few clicks (OGG). The win32-loader version, now based on GRUB 2, includes new features such as detection and pre-seeding of Windows settings, and is translated to 20 languages."
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Debian win32-loader Goes Official

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  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spuke4000 (587845) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @10:45AM (#20588017)
    Since none of the links in the story explain what the win32-loader is, can anyone explain what it does?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ZOMFF (1011277) * on Thursday September 13, 2007 @10:48AM (#20588059) Homepage
      It appears that the win32-loader allows you to begin the install process of Debian from a Windows operating system.
      • by Hatta (162192)
        Why would anyone want to do that? What's wrong with popping a CD in the drive and rebooting?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Why would anyone want to do that? What's wrong with popping a CD in the drive and rebooting?
          Because not all machines are capable of booting from a CD, and, even if it's possible with a given machine, in many BIOSes this capability is not enabled by default. And telling a newbie to go into BIOS setup to change settings is likely to scare the crap out of them.

          • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by joto (134244) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @11:35AM (#20588809)

            And telling a newbie to go into BIOS setup to change settings is likely to scare the crap out of them.

            And the newbie would be right.

            Installing debian on a windows system should also scare the crap out of a newbie. He will loose all his old files (including family photos), even if this "win32-loader" allows him to keep his worthless bookmarks.

            While I have nothing against trying to convince people to try linux, I have something against the people who will try just about anything, including outright lying, in order to make people switch.

            • bad feeling (Score:4, Interesting)

              by d3ac0n (715594) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:05PM (#20589359)
              What I find interesting is the potential for "Linux Phishing" or "Linux Greifing" that this creates. There are already plenty of problems with various viruses loading directly through the browser in Windows, can you imagine what would happen if a "religious Linux fanatic" were to take this, alter it to use a known but unpatched IE vulnerability to auto-install and reboot people's machines into Linux? What would happen if a "religious Microsoft fanatic" did the same thing to try and make Linux look bad?

              I've got a baaaad feeling about this...
            • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Falstius (963333) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:26PM (#20589767)
              I haven't used goodbye-microsoft, but Wubi (which is supposedly based on it) does the same for Ubuntu. It works by installing Ubuntu to a file on the Windows partition. So not only do you not lose your Windows files, you don't even have to perform a relatively risky partitioning. It also leaves the windows boot loader in place and chain-loads grub o you don't have the "Ahh, how do I remove grub!!!!" questions.

              Its not the best way to run Linux, but it is a very safe way and faster and more permanent than a LiveCD.

          • by fm6 (162816)

            And telling a newbie to go into BIOS setup to change settings is likely to scare the crap out of them.
            And suddenly having their OS disappear, along with all their software and data, will make them feel all warm and fuzzy?
        • * forgotton bios password.
          * motherboard that doesn't support CD booting or at least doesn't support it properly.
          * USB or firewire CD drive and a bios that doesn't support booting from it.
          * No cd drive at all (the loader can be used to set off an install from the network).

          • by r3m0t (626466)
            How about not having a CD burner or blank disc, and it's also difficult to find good ISO burning apps?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by westlake (615356)
        It appears that the win32-loader allows you to begin the install process of Debian from a Windows operating system.

        Well, thanks, for the info....

        But what does it say about the Geeks of "Goodbye-Microsoft.com" that no one bothers to explain something as basic as this? "Use of Debian logo does not imply endorsement by the Debian project."

        Well, that is reassuring.

        Who are these guys and why should I trust them?

        In launching the installer are you committing yourself to a total erasure of your Windows OS,

        • by cp.tar (871488)

          In launching the installer are you committing yourself to a total erasure of your Windows OS, partitions, etc?

          Only if you choose to do so from within the installer.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by westlake (615356)
            Only if you choose to do so from within the installer.

            --- and only if the installer does what you tell it to do.

            I see a zealot's website with two sparse pages of text, some crappy screen shots, and links that lead nowhere in particular.

            Nothing that inspires trust in a program that can do unlimited damage to my system and files.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by cp.tar (871488)

              Unilke the Windows installer, at least you can download the source code and see for yourself exactly what it does.

      • by pclminion (145572)

        Uh... How is that supposed to be impressive? This is exactly how we all used to install Linux before the age of bootable CD-ROMS. You'd make a root floppy, boot into Windows, and run LOADLIN.

        So yeah, I truly congratulate them on achieving what we already had in 1995.

        • by hawk (1151)
          "we all" ???

          No, some of us (most? nearly all?) made some floppies and installed. About 6 for debian, iirc. FreeBSD grew from one to two (assuming you had a network).

          hawk
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Achoi77 (669484) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @10:51AM (#20588089)

      I'm assuming based on the screenshots [goodbye-microsoft.com], it's a little windows app that begins the debian install process. Functionally the Debian ISO it would be analagous to a 'windows upgrade' CD.

      But that's my guess

      • by gardyloo (512791)

        Functionally the Debian ISO it would be analagous to a 'windows upgrade' CD.
        Blasphemer!
      • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2007 @11:07AM (#20588329)
        It goes much further than just starting the installer. win32-loader is a boot loader that can start a Linux distro from a few files on your (Windows) partition, so Windows users can enjoy the benefits of a fully functional Linux installation without having to repartition their drives, or being unable to boot Windows. So it's really a very easy way to install Linux for dedicated Windows users.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by JesterXXV (680142)
      Seriously, what the hell is the point of editors if this shit doesn't get explained? Ten percent of the summaries simply invoke confusion on my part because nobody bothers to give any background, or even just link to an explanation.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by asphaltjesus (978804) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @11:01AM (#20588217)
      The Win32 loader is a new feature in the Debian installation CD. It makes it even easier to install Debian.

      The installation of Debian may be a challenge for some who are afraid of changing the disk boot order in bios. Since bios menus vary, it's practically impossible to make good documentation about getting a CD to boot when it doesn't by default. More subtly, it addresses that weird fear that windows really isn't going away when you install Debian. Personally, I think the distro will be more popular now that the installation cd stops dropping you on a command line where you had to figure out what to type to start the installation process.

      FYI: Debian's graphical installer is way, way ahead of the ubuntu installer u-bug-quity in terms of features and functionality. This is one of the many great things going on in Debian right now.
      • by gardyloo (512791)

        More subtly, it addresses that weird fear that windows really isn't going away when you install Debian.
        I love that wording.
      • I think this installer isn't so much about the fear of changing BIOS settings as it is about the fear of changing BIOS settings, repartitioning, and installing a boot loader. So it basically makes installing Linux about as painless as installing other Windows apps. Since one of the biggest complaints (after hardware compatibility and software availability) about Linux is difficult installations, this can potentially go a long way towards introducing people to Linux.

        It's probably not the way someone sho
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Isn't that what LiveCDs are for? So people can test out Linux before they have to install it? Optionally, couldn't they include QEMU and have Linux boot up from within Windows, so they don't have to touch the machine at all? If this thing actually ends up installing Linux to the hard drive, whether in a file or whatever, then it's going to have to mess with the boot sequence, which is probably a lot more dangerous than having somebody change a single setting so their computer will boot off CD.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rbochan (827946)
      See an explanation here [slashdot.org].

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @10:52AM (#20588113) Journal

    Since none of the links in the story explain what the win32-loader is, can anyone explain what it does?

    Your wish is google's command
    http://packages.debian.org/unstable/utils/win32-loader [debian.org]
    • by frinkacheese (790787) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @11:02AM (#20588235) Journal
      Now it just needs to be intergrated into a virus/worm the the whole windows world will be converted!
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @11:31AM (#20588723) Homepage
      So in practical terms, does this mean that they can install Debian on a Windows box without having to burn a CD? That could be useful on systems that don't have a CD burner, and could also be easier in terms of cutting down on the number of steps, and eliminating the need to own CD-writing software. It would be totally cool to have an Ubuntu installer that you could download and double-click on, and that would automatically resize your partitions and leave you with a double-boot system; I think there would be a *lot* of people I could convince to try Linux if it was that easy. Although the normal Ubuntu install CD (not the alternate install) already has a live CD feature so you can run Linux without installing it, I've always hesitated to suggest to people that they try Linux from a live CD, because the performance is so horrible that I'm afraid they'll get a bad impression. Of course a live CD can be useful if you want to find out how much of your hardware is supported. Realistically, I think the main obstacle these days for someone wanting to install Linux isn't the need to burn a CD and boot from it, it's issues with (a) printing, wifi, and winmodems, and (b) being committed to file formats that are only supported on Windows.
      • by BESTouff (531293)
        Not only does it work exactely like you wish, but you wan also try Wubi which does the same thing for Ubuntu without even repartitioning your drive ! The linux system simply lives on your NTFS partition. Isn't life wonderful ?
  • EULA (Score:5, Funny)

    by thegnu (557446) <thegnu AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 13, 2007 @10:57AM (#20588151) Journal
    Everyone remember to click right through the EULA like they do in the instructional video, or it won't work. :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It always annoyed me that everyone seems to leaves these details out when comparing software.

      If you include the time needed to read, study and understand the EULA, then installing binary software on Windows takes way longer than installing from GPL source in Gentoo.
      There are only a couple of open source licenses, and they are usually short and easy to understand, while every little piece of closed software comes with a different license that usually changes on every update, or even without notice.

      Having a (
  • by kwabbles (259554) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @10:58AM (#20588173)
    I don't have any Windows machines to test it out on.

    Will this work in Wine? :)

    Seriously though - nice work, guys.
  • by ZOMFF (1011277) * on Thursday September 13, 2007 @11:01AM (#20588225) Homepage
    Ran the win32 loader on a test-VM here at work. Pretty quick and painless, 4-5 prompts, 45 seconds of downloading, a reboot and debian was installing. However it was interesting to note that administrative privileges on the Win32 OS are not required. Not that big of a deal for most users, but could prove troublesome in some environments (Corporate, etc).
    • Ran the win32 loader on a test-VM here at work. Pretty quick and painless, 4-5 prompts, 45 seconds of downloading, a reboot and debian was installing.

      Maybe I don't get it, but isn't that what you'd get out of a typical PXE boot/NFS install?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by r3m0t (626466)
        Yes, if your motherboard supports network boot and you have a computer to store the boot image and you are able to change the boot order of your computer.

        None of which is required for this.
        • Yes, if your motherboard supports network boot and you have a computer to store the boot image and you are able to change the boot order of your computer.

          First, motherboards don't need to support anything other than a NIC. Second, many NICs support PXE boot (I've never encountered a non-off-brand that doesn't going back more years than I count). And changing the "boot order of your computer" (which I assume means "selecting the device order from which to boot") is a function that's part of every BIOS. An
      • Yes, once it's rebooted it's basically equivalent to the businesscard/netboot install images as I understand it. This is just one step lazier for those converting Windows systems. Not everyone has a netboot-capable environment set up at home and double-click is easier than download/burn/reboot/{boot menu,change bios settings}
      • Several times on debian-user we've referred people to the beta of this system because they've got some esoteric hardware that prevents them from installing from CD. An example would be one of those (warning technical crap follows!!) PATA cd-rom thingies hooked up through some SATA backed fake IDE doo-hickey. The result is that after the OS takes over form the bios, it can't see the cd and thus can't mount it to continue the installation. The win32 loader is perfect for this situation as there are no other h
        • by cHiphead (17854)
          Toshiba Tablet laptops with no cd or floppy is a perfect example, I had to resort to cludging up a bootable SD card to get ubuntu on the damn thing.

          Cheers.
    • maybe there is something wrong with your windows install, this method relies on changing boot.ini which on a properly set up system should not be possible for non admins.

      If your system drive is fat32 or was fat32 at install time and was converted then windows security is basically nonexistant.

    • >quote>However it was interesting to note that administrative privileges on the Win32 OS are not required. Not that big of a deal for most users, but could prove troublesome in some environments (Corporate, etc). Then your system is broken or otherwise incorrectly set up. The default permissions on boot.ini don't allow non-admins to modify it, so the installer should have failed at that point. Perhaps you're using FAT32 which doesn't support permissions and thus is completely unsuitable to run any N
  • - Linux on vmware or equivalent
    - wubi style installations on a windows partition http://wubi-installer.org/ [wubi-installer.org]
    - USB bootable stick
    - this new debian installer
    - live cds and cd installers
    - network

    One might find the debian installer useful in those cases where the keyboard is locked on startup of the live cd, which prevents to choose one grub option. I guess it's an OS vs. BIOS issue at reboot, sometime it helps to reboot after a brief disconnection of the pc from power/battery.

    Oh wait
    - floppies

    I recently had to
  • by boudie2 (1134233) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @11:18AM (#20588493)
    Mr. Windows partition, meet Mr. fdisk.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gnuman99 (746007)
      You're too kind. I just use,

      Mr. Windows partition, meet Mr. dd and Mr. /dev/zero

  • and the link to goodbye-microsoft.com offers to download... an exe.

    (Yes, I am being super paranoid and I know it's a bit of promotion for Debian but I can see someone clicking on that and then wondering where Clippy has gone).
  • by ACMENEWSLLC (940904) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @11:29AM (#20588683) Homepage
    My first thought following the link is that this is a virus. When I follow a link that says "Good bye Windows" which wants to launch an .EXE with no explanation, what else would I think?

    I run Ubuntu in VMware. I thought from the article that perhaps I could run Windows programs inside Linux with this. Another WINE.
    • by Reziac (43301) *
      That's what I thought too, from the summary -- Oh boy, now I can run my WinApps on linux without needing to muck about with Wine, VMs, etc. .... aw phooey, just an installer :(

      But yeah, what is the average Windows user going to think, when his antivirus pipes up with "debian.exe is a destructive program" -- which most AV apps will (rightfully) say of ANY program that messes with the boot sector.

      Well, I guess it's one way to teach people not to click on random download links..!! :)

      But as to what it really is
  • If somebody created a virus or a worm to automate running this, it would only spell disaster for Linux PR. Let's hope that the Debian crew have some sort of checks to help minimize this possibility.
  • Great, another win for Microsoft, when do we poor linux people get our version?

    *****JOKE*****
    *****JOKE*****
  • Jeez people, when you give us a story, please bear in mind that many of us have never heard of the stuff you're talking about. I had to puzzle for 5 minutes to figure out that a "win32-loader" is Linux installer that runs under Windows. ("Loader" is a really stupid [wikipedia.org] choice of words, but that's another issue.) Yeah, yeah, if my time is that valuable, I shouldn't be wasting it on Slashdot. But damn it Rob, can't you find some editors with some basic communication skills?
  • Remember the badly-named product called "OS/2 for Windows" ?? After IBM's rights to Win16 code expired, they released this product -- it basically installed OS/2 on top of Windows, but it kept enough of Windows intact that not only was your data preserved, but your license to Microsoft's code on that machine remained intact.

    It would be interesting to see whether installing a Linux on top of an existing Windows machine could leverage that same type of method. Installing on top of an existing Windows syst
  • Not new? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @02:42PM (#20592267)
    My first linux experience was booting to it from windows, using slackware, to install into a directory on my drive. Didn't require any partitioning as it used fat and ran on top of that with various hacks to make everything work in a linux friendly fasion. You could start windows, then just run an exe to switch to linux. Of course switching back required a normal reboot, but it certainly made 'trying' linux a easy thing to do. If you didn't like it you just deleted the directory you installed linux into. This was in 1995, give or take a year or so.

    Why is this suddenly supposed to be impressive or new? Surely there was a reason that this sort of thing went away, why is it coming back now if it didn't work then?
  • I'm not a n00b but the installer is damn useful in and of itself. I installed debian on an old laptop where trying more conventional methods would have failed badly. Namely because the CD-ROM on the laptop was fucked and it would not boot from a USB key.

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