Sign up ×
Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free.

So my computer is not working - the disk is totally cleared, I've deleted GRUB and PLOP which I used to install new system, because CD-Rom is broken and BIOS is old (whole computer is old, it's Sony Vaio PCG-GR250) so it won't allow me to do it via USB and I got no floppy drive :) the only way is to PXE boot PLOP and install Linux from USB after PLOP has been opened. (I'm not a specialist but that's how I see it) I'm using Mac OS X 10.9 and I followed number of tutorials how to set up TFTP and DHCP server and I got PLOP here, but when I boot up with PXE it says that it found DHCP but TFTP timed out. Any help or alternative way of rescuing old laptop? Thanks in advance!

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

I had an old laptop with a touchscreen, which I wanted to use for a project. It had a small (2GB) harddisk with Debian on it, which was missing some features I needed (missing drivers for the graphics adapter and no touch calibration tools)

The BIOS only supported booting from a floppy drive (with a special connector) or a CD-ROM drive (PCMCIA), neither of which i have, and finally, PXE boot.

Not being able to boot from USB, and not having access to the proper hardware, what to do, when I wanted to install Ubuntu?

To solve this, I began searching for PXE articles. I ran across this article on PXE on Ubuntu 15.04 (note that articles for previous versions deviated very much from 15.04 configuration files, etc.)

I decided to experiment, so i created a Virtual machine running with bridged networking, with a plain Ubuntu 15.04 server, configuring the server as stated, with apache2, tftpd-hpa, inetutils-inetd. I also made sure that I had the server-i386 flavor of the ISO, since the netboot file needed was not avaiable on the other ISOs.

An extra issue was that I have a router with DHCP already, and since the machine being installed on needs an IP from the server I had set up in order to get the required settings for the tftp server. My solution was to unplug my switch from my router, start up the laptop, let it get the ip address, and boot ubuntu load screen, and then replug the router, and pause the virtual machine running my PXE server. This is definitely an approach I would use in the future when installing Ubuntu on ancient hardware.

share|improve this answer

You can move its HDD to another machine, install full system or just grub, then move it back. Linux have all drivers, so in most cases it will boot without any problem.

Another way, by using USB/IDE adapter, if you can't mount in the other machine or not allowed.

With Grub2 and enough RAM, you can setup Grub ISO Boot. So you can install new system without need of any external device. See Grub2/ISOBoot/Examples

Advice, better to make a separate /boot partition. If new system installation failed, you have a grub boot at least.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.