Installing Linux on a Locked Down PC

I work for the man… I have a laptop that is provided by the man but it’s running a very slow customized version of XP. I wanted to partition the drive and install Linux but, seeing as the BIOS is locked down, I can’t boot off anything except the internal drive. Here’s how I got around it.

First, I installed GRUB while logged into Windows. There are great instructions here on how to do that. In summary:

  • Download GRUB
  • Append C:\grldr="Start GRUB" to C:\boot.ini
  • Create a GRUB menu file C:\menu.lst

Create the following two boot blocks in the above menu.lst file.
title Boot GParted CDROM
cdrom --init
map --hook
chainloader (cd0)
root (cd0)
kernel (cd0)/boot/gparted root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc real_root=/dev/loop0 looptype=squashfs loop=/gparted.dat udev dokeymap scandelay=6 cdroot dodmraid nosound docache
initrd (cd0)/boot/gparted.igz

title Install Feisty
root (hd0,0)
kernel (hd0,0)/boot/linux append vga=normal

The first boot block is for booting off a live GParted CD. GParted is a great open source live CD for re-sizing your partitions. Download it and burn it to a CD.

The second boot block is to boot of a Linux installer. I used Ubuntu Feisty here but you can use any distribution. For Ubuntu, you need to download the ‘linux’ and ‘initrd.gz’ files and put them on your windows drive at C:\boot\. See here for more info about other distributions.

Now reboot and, when GRUB comes up, select GParted and partition your drives however you like. After that, reboot and choose the Linux installer in GRUB. Install, reboot and you should have yourself a shinny new distro on your work PC.


1 comment so far

  1. Tommy on

    Very nice. Thanks for the tip. I’ll try it when I upgrade my XP work laptop’s hard drive and get a little more breathing room.

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