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Debian Software Linux

Debian Gets Win32 Installer 232

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 has been set up for advocacy purposes. Here are some screenshots."
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Debian Gets Win32 Installer

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  • Re:Almost Too Easy? (Score:3, Informative)

    by greginterrupted ( 1025818 ) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:27AM (#17788302)
    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 of the Windows XP bootloader, the one we are familiar with that lets you boot into Windows or Win with safe mode. It's the bootloader that you get when you hit F8 during startup. However, now it's got a "Ubuntu operating system" listed under "Windows XP professional." How did that get there? I'm not sure. The screenshot that precluded the bootloader screenshot only showed a message asking the user if he/she wanted to reboot. It's the ?????? step between steal underpants and profit.

    I'm actually pretty happy with my windows xp pro install, and have been so for about three years. I'm not going to switch back over to any other OS anytime soon, even after owning a mac for six months. The point of this comment is to make sure that people know that users will NOT BE FORMATTING THEIR HARD DRIVES by using the installer. I believe they're only modifying the bootloader and installing a small linux on the ntfs or fat32 drive right alongside winxp or 2k. I could easily be wrong, but the images and the guide on the site didn't do anything to explain the process so it's all speculation.
  • Re:questions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:32AM (#17788324) Homepage Journal

    anyone know if this does:
    1) resizes the windows partition so you can still access it from debian?
    2) scans windows for your settings and replicates similar ones in debian?
    Anything else, and why not just use the damn CD?
    I was curious about this too. The site itself doesn't carry much information, but the related Ubuntu project [] has more detail. The idea is that the linux disk image gets saved as a file (in C:\ubuntu apparently) which gets loopmounted and booted into via grub4dos. Thus Windows gets to stay exactly as it is, and there isn't even any disk repartitioning done - linux just sits as a disk image file on the C:\ drive. The Ubuntu project also talk about gleaning some info from the Windows registry for installation - though it only mentions locale and timezone data (presumably more can be managed).

    It is, at least, quite different from a CD install in that your Windows install (presuming this works the same as the Ubuntu version) remains untouched (aside from getting a new directory and a couple of extra files) with no risk of data loss via repartioning etc. Certainly an interesting idea.
  • Re:questions (Score:4, Informative)

    by joey ( 315 ) <> on Sunday January 28, 2007 @05:13AM (#17788552) Homepage
    The current implementation for Debian is different than what Ubuntu is working on. just downloads the two files (kernel, initrd) that let the completely standard Debian installer [] boot, installs a grub bootloader and uses it to convince windows to boot linux. Thereafter it's identical to what would happen if you netboot the Debian Installer.

    d-i does allow optional resizing of the windows partition and setting up a dual-boot system. It does not scan windows for settings or the like.

    Oh BTW, while it's slashdotted, you can see it at 885ff7a49228380/index.html []

  • Re:questions (Score:2, Informative)

    by at2000 ( 715252 ) * on Sunday January 28, 2007 @05:26AM (#17788578)
    1. No
    2. No

    You only avoided the need for burning a CD, but not the d-i. That's why the Ubuntu one is much easier to use.
  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @05:37AM (#17788600) Journal
    For the curious...

    Here is a link to the ISO Burner Power Toy for Windows XP. This will allow you to record a CD or DVD .iso image under WinXP without having to go out and purchase a full version of Nero or Roxio. This is a very handy tool. []

  • Re:questions (Score:2, Informative)

    by keitosama ( 990483 ) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @06:30AM (#17788752)
    You had to launch BeOS as an application within Windows, while this method still makes you fire up Debian in the bootloader before entering Windows, apparently.
  • by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @06:43AM (#17788806) Journal
    Microsoft do provide a program to burn ISO images - it's in the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit [] and it's called 'cdburn.exe'.

    WHY they can't simply distribute a mission critical tool like this along with the OS I have no idea.
  • 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.
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 28, 2007 @09:10AM (#17789226)
    Not shipping their OS with a tool used mainly to burn iso-images of slipstreamed, updated Microsoft OSes, so your brand new installation doesn't get rooted while you attempt to download the patches. This makes no sense!
  • Re:Because... (Score:2, Informative)

    by iangoldby ( 552781 ) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @10:50AM (#17789656) Homepage

    Especially Mac users have trouble because they have to do this as root user, which often is a concept unknown to them.
    Huh? I'm sitting at my MacBook Pro right now. If I drag a file from the desktop into my /usr/local/lib finder window it just says "The item <whatever> could not be moved because "lib" cannot be modified." Then there are two buttons: Authenticate, and OK. If I then click Authenticate, it asks me to type an Administrator's name and password. Nothing here about a 'root user'. Furthermore, any Mac user who had no idea what an Administrator was would either already be one (its the default, sadly) or had his account created by someone who doesn't allow him to make alterations to /usr/local/lib anyway!

    (By the way, you do know about shift-command-G in the Finder, don't you? I take it this is how you are directing the user to open /usr/local/lib.)
  • Re:Almost Too Easy? (Score:2, Informative)

    by rapidweather ( 567364 ) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @11:00AM (#17789714) Homepage
    I do recommend using a livecd linux to see how it goes. Detecting your hardware, coming up with a decent "X", sound, network, and so forth.
    Installing linux to the hard drive is not a safe option for those who do not know how to do this, here I recommend trying it on a spare machine. Spare machines are hard to come up with, since XP, and now Vista are more or less married to the machine. Who would want to experiment with your nicely set up XP box?
    I tried FC6 dual boot with XP and had to give up, took hours to restore XP, since I did hose the ntldr. Did use my livecd linux [] to look around in the filesystem and see what I needed to do with the Dell restore CD.
    On my older PC's I do use Windows 98, or preferrably MSDOS 6.21 to do a poor man's install of my live cd linux with some loadlin batch files, and a MSDOS menu to select.
    On boxes with small monitors, I have an additional choice, 800x600, instead of 1024x768. I use QTParted to partition the drive, and usually put the main filesystem knoppix folder in a 1 GB partition, have a swap partition, and put a 1 GB "persistent home directory" image in the Windows or DOS partition.
    So, with XP, or Vista, I would just run the livecd linux with the "toram" knoppix cheatcode boot option, that would work well on boxes with a GB of RAM.
    I notice in today's paper, Office Depot and others have tons of new Vista laptops and desktops for sale, in their flyer. A lot have only 512 MB of RAM, that might result in a "slow" Vista, I suppose.

    -- Rapidweather

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin