HOWTO: Upgrade to Fedora on a Laptop with no Floppy or CD Drive

by Chris Colohan on February 10, 2004

If you are currently running RedHat Linux on your laptop, and don't have a bootable CD drive or floppy drive handy, then you might feel kind of stumped after reading the directions in the RedHat install guide. Don't worry, if you happen to have a network connection, there is a way.

This guide assumes the following:

First, download the ISO images onto your laptop. Write down the name of the directory where you put them on a piece of paper. (If you want to do an NFS, http or ftp install, this step is not needed.)

Next, set up your laptop to boot the "boot CD" from your hard drive. You do this as follows:

  1. Make a directory called /boot/isolinux.
  2. Copy the isolinux/ directory from your Fedora media into /boot/isolinux. You can either download this directory from elsewhere, or mount your ISO images using the following commands:
    computername> mkdir /mnt/iso
    computername> mount -o loop <iso image filename>.iso /mnt/iso
    computername> cd /mnt/iso
    computername> tar cf - isolinux | ( cd /boot; tar xf - )
  3. Edit the file /etc/grub.conf, adding the following lines to the end of the file:
    title Upgrade to Fedora
        root (hd0,0)
        kernel /boot/isolinux/vmlinuz root=LABEL=/
        initrd /boot/isolinux/initrd.img
    NOTE: You should change the (hd0,0) statement to match the entry which you currently use to boot Linux earlier in the grub.conf file. This assumes that you currently boot from the / partition. If you have a separate boot partition mounted at /boot, you will need to change this to the following:
    title Upgrade to Fedora
        root (hd0,0)
        kernel /isolinux/vmlinuz root=LABEL=/
        initrd /isolinux/initrd.img

You can then reboot your computer, and select "Upgrade to Fedora" from the grub boot menu. This will boot you into the normal Anaconda installer. When asked, say you want to install from the local disk. Point it at the directory you put the ISO images in earlier. (Or tell the installer about the NFS server, http server, or ftp server where it can find the Fedora media.)

After you are finished your installation you can remove the /boot/isolinux directory and remove the "Upgrade to Fedora" entry you just added to your /etc/grub.conf file.

Thank you to Stuart Shapiro, Gavin Henry, Kumoro Wisnu Wibowo and Carsten Clasohm for their comments, which are incorporated into this updated howto.