Howto boot Quantian from a Windows partition

The most recent Quantian release came in at 1.1gb, or clearly too much for a cdrom with a typical capacity of 700mb. As removing packages will invariably upset someone who liked Quantian just because of those just-removed packages, and as there is always something else to add, and as even future release of a constant set of packages will likely exceed current levels, we feel that sticking to the 700mb constraint is a losing proposition. Moreover, dvd writers now cost less than $100, and for those unwilling or unable to burn their own, vendors are available to provide these for a nominal fee. For example, started offering dvds only two days after the initial release of this version.

But there is an another easy solution for a very common situation: a machine with with an exiting Windows partition can boot a dvd-size iso image from hard disk without requiring any bootloaders to be installed. That's right -- no need to mix lilo or grub and the 'other' bootloader.

This method uses the bootfrom option that appeared in Knoppix 3.4. By simply copying the iso image onto a windows partition, and pointing the boot process to this iso image, we can load an image irrespective of its size limitations.

But this gets really neat once we combine it with the current clusterKnoppix cdrom image from which Quantian is derived. This ensures that the same kernel is used on the cdrom -- which we use as an oversize boot floppy, really -- and the actual iso image that is loaded. To recap, the following the required steps:

  1. Download the desired iso image onto the windows pc or laptop and place it into a file, say, c:/quantian.iso. We will assume that c: corresponds to the first partition on the first disk drive, or /dev/hda1 in Linux parlance.
  2. Download the current clusterKnoppix cdrim iso image and burn it to a cdrom.
  3. Boot that cdrom, and at the bootprompt type
       knoppix bootfrom=/dev/hda1/quantian.iso
  4. Enjoy the full Quantian iso image of more than 1gb size, booted with the help of the regular clusterKnoppix cdrom.
Note though that the 'C:\' partitiona could also be mapped to/dev/hda2 if a vendor-installated special partition takes up /dev/hda1 -- so if it fails with /dev/hda1, try /dev/hda2. The best test would be to boot off the clusterKnoppix cdrom and to start a root shell and run the 'cfdisk' utility to see where the 'normal' NTFS partition resides. This worked for me on my work laptop -- a standard IBM Thinkpad T23 running a Windows 2000 installation. Comments and feedback welcome!

Last modified: Sat Jun 26 21:01:40 CDT 2004