I have a very old PC that currently has no functioning HDD and only a CD-ROM drive (no DVD-ROM).

There is no way to boot it from a USB drive.

Can I still get a Ubuntu Live CD image that could be used to boot the computer? The DVD images are all too large to fit on a CD-R.

There is no network connection.

The reason I am using this machine is because it is the only one I could find with a floppy drive. I need to copy the contents of a floppy disk onto, say, a USB drive. Therefore the distro should include drivers for the floppy drive and USB drive too.

Sure, I could just buy a USB floppy drive instead, but where's the fun in that?

As some commenters said, this machine is almost certainly 32 bit architecture. So, a 64 bit .iso will not work.

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    Depending on your system, another problem could be, 32 bit isn't well supported anymore. A 64 bit medium won't work on a 32 bit architecture -- A smaller version of the live medium is often used as 'Netinstall' (cdimage.ubuntu.com/netboot/19.10) and there are some older versions (LTE) linked on releases.ubuntu.com ... But if you'd like to use the system longer without HDD, you should consider to use an USB drive (DVD or thumbdrive) or replace the HDD. Or switch to another linux, which is specialized for minimum hardware requirements and will still support 32 bit (if needed). – LupusE Jan 16 at 16:10
  • 1) What do you want that old PC to run once Ubuntu boots? 2) How much RAM does it have? 3) What processor does it have? If you provide the model number from the serial number sticker, and the manufacturer, we can look up the specs. Please click edit and provide the make and model, as well as an explanation of what you want it to do for you. Please do not use Add Comment; instead, use edit. – K7AAY Jan 16 at 17:42
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    Does this answer your question? Bootable USB of Ubuntu Minimal CD – karel Jan 16 at 17:42
  • @karel, USB doesn't boot on his PC, so USB answers could be confusing. – K7AAY Jan 16 at 17:58
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    They don't call it the Ubuntu Minimal CD for nothing. – karel Jan 16 at 17:59

There is a Network Booting CD image you can download and burn to CDR. That gets you booted, but not much else.

As an alternative, https://help.ubuntu.com/community/ThinClients introduces how to boot a diskless PC from a Ubuntu server set up to host Thin Clients, and refers you to https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuLTSP and the Linux Terminal Server Project for information on how to set up an Ubuntu Server for this task.

It uses PXE to boot a machine with no drive at all, uses dnsmasq or isc dhcp to get an IP address for the old machine, sends a compressed image to the old PC to be extracted into memory to run from, and boots faster than booting from CD on most networks.

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  • In this case I think it is easiest to try a very small linux distro outside the Ubuntu family, for example Tiny Core or Puppy Linux.

  • An alternative, if there is USB, is to boot via a PloP CD disk, that provides a driver to chainboot via USB and that way be able to boot into a modern full-size 32-bit linux distro, for example Lubuntu 18.04.1 LTS or Debian live version 10.2.

    There is also a problem with RAM. If there is not enough RAM to run a modern full-size 32-bit linux distro, again, I think the best alternative is to try a very small linux distro outside the Ubuntu family, for example Tiny Core or Puppy Linux.

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