Installing from other computer
The other day someone donated an old laptop to me. I like it because it is pretty tiny, quite handy and has a nice keyboard :), the exact model is a DELL C400. It has 500 MB of RAM and 700 or 900 Mhz of CPU if I'm not mistaken. The first thing that I have wanted to do is to put Elive on it, of course :) what else would I will do with it without Elive on it ? Ok... Hands on: the first problem comes when the laptop doesn't have a CDROM and can't boot from USB. How will I do it then? Well, extracting the hard disk and putting it on a different computer, installing Elive under it and then put back the disk to this laptop. This sounds like the only alternative, altought it is not the correct way at all ! If im able to solve all the possible problems that i will find by doing this there are many other tricks needed that i will even not notice. So, the only correct way to install Elive on this laptop is by installing it FROM IT. Ok, let me explain then what I have done and what is the most easy way to do this :)
First of all, install Elive on this hard disk, in any way, because in reality we only need to have to boot from grub and the kernel (+ initrd) on it. Extract the disk and install Elive on it with any options, it is recommended to set in no the question about the framebuffer videomode, also, maybe you will need to retouch the configuration of grub (the file /boot/grub/menu.lst in the installed partition) so that it will point to the correct partition to boot from; If this is the only hard disk for the laptop destination and it is installed on the first partition, the bios address name is hd0,0, if the root partition installed will be the second, the value is hd0,1, etc... in other words, change the second line of your Elive entry section, to something like root (hd0,0) but in most cases you don't need to change it. Ok, your disk is ready to boot on the destination laptop.
Now you have a draft system installed on this disk that is able to boot Elive from it, this is very nice :), the next thing that you need is to put the same version of Elive on a USB stick (not to install it, just put it in order to use the USB like the livecd, see this FAQ entry where it is explained how to put it). Maybe you are thinking that your laptop is unable to boot from the USB, ok, your BIOS is unable, but Elive is :). It is very possible that you even not need to have this USB stick bootable, maybe by having just the contents of the ISO copied to a fat32 partition is perfectly sufficient, the only thing really required is that the versiono of Elive needs to be the same (same kernel revision build)
When you have the USB stick ready with a Elive system on it to boot from, put the USB stick on the laptop, boot it normally, you will see the boot menu of Elive, then you need to say that you want to boot in eli (elive live initramfs) mode, for that just write boot=eli and you will see that you have added this parameter to the boot options. Then your hard disk will boot normally, loading the kernel, and running in the ELI mode, thanks to ELI, all your devices will be scanned in order to boot in live mode, searching the live system, it will found directly your USB without problems, and then starting to boot in live mode. Note: If you try to do this on the future, be sure that you are booting the same kernels
Perfect! You have succesfully booted a Live session from this computer :) Now you can (re)install Elive on this hard disk like you will do it on any computer, but now with all the correct detections/configurations and optimizations perfectly made and adapted for this computer.
Note: if you need the installer-module be sure to have another computer (if you dont have internet on this one) near so that you will copy the downloaded installer-module to an USB (or the same one) so that you will insert this installer-module when the installer will require it.
When you want to reinstall future versions of Elive on this computer, instead of extracting again to the hard disk, you need to copy to the /boot folder of your installed system, the vmlinuz and initrd files from the new ISO that you want to use, they are found under the boot directory of the ISO contents if you open it, then just edit the file /boot/grub/menu.lst of your installed system and add a new entry similar to your default one. For this entry you need to put the address of these new kernel and initrd files, remember to set a different title for this entry. Now, just copy the rest of the contents of the ISO to a fat32 partition of a USB stick, boot your computer again and put the parameter boot=elive. You can even copy the contents of the ISO to a partition of your hard disk instead of a usb stick! The Elive possibilites are unlimited :)
And now Go to enjoy your Elive on this strong computer ! :)