Installation Program for Windows

David Bain david.bain at
Tue Jul 12 21:03:09 CDT 2005

This sounds really good.
I recently had occasion to do something similar.
There's a guy at our office who we could put on this project tomorrow
(if you're interested).

On Tue, 2005-07-12 at 16:45 -0700, michael wrote:
> For a while, I've thought that if Windows users could install Linux as 
> easily as they can install any Windows program, they might be more 
> likely to give Linux a try. When found out that WINGRUB allows a 
> computer to boot linux from a Windows partition, I realized that it 
> could be fairly simple to create such an installation program using 
> existing tools. I've created a wiki page at 
> describing 
> how to do the process manually. Here's a rough sketch of how such an 
> installer might work.
> intro explanation
> automatic (or guided) installation?
> determine (confirm) language
> determine time, date, timezone, keyboard layout
> guess (confirm) good amount of space for linux partition
> create installation script based on previous information
> prompt to close programs, eject media, click restart
> determine whether windows=NT or =9x
> if NT
> append WINGRUB to boot.ini, set as default boot option
> copy kernel, initrd, linux.iso, boot.lst to \boot
> if 9x
> something similar with GRUB4DOS , never done it myself
> reboot
> user selects or defaults to WINGRUB/GRUB4DOS
> linux boots and autodetects hardware (logged)
> script removes WINGRUB/GRUB4DOS from boot.ini (if installation fails, 
> computer will not keep booting into linux)
> installation program runs using install script, auto-detected hardware 
> settings, installs GRUB to MBR (all logged)
> reboot
> next boot (windows or linux)
> check installation log
> ask to send results to database
> delete \boot
> first linux boot
> set up user
> Let me explain the installation process in plain English. In the first 
> step, I imagine that the installer will give the user the choice between 
> accepting all of the installer's guesses or having a chance to modify 
> those choices. The installer would then examine the registry to 
> determine the user's language, the system time/date/timezone, and the 
> keyboard layout. It would then determine the amount of free space on the 
> hard drive and, based on the amount of space needed for an installation 
> and the amount of free space remaining, make a guess as to the proper 
> amount of space to partition away for linux. Based on all this 
> information, the installer would then create an installation sript for 
> anaconda or the debian-installer or whatever the distro uses. It would 
> place this script, the kernel, initrd, and installation program, the 
> distro's base installation packages, and either WINGRUB or GRUB4DOS 
> (depending on what version of Windows the user is running) in the \boot 
> directory, and modify the user's startup files to boot into linux. On 
> reboot, the computer would start up into linux and run the installation 
> program using the installation script. In case something goes wrong and 
> the installation cannot finish, the installer should set the computer to 
> boot into Windows on the next boot as soon as possible. The installer 
> would then partition the disk, install the base packages, install GRUB 
> to the master boot record, and reboot. At startup, GRUB would greet the 
> user and ask whether to boot into Windows or linux. Regardless of which 
> OS the user boots, a program would run that would check the installation 
> log to see if everything went well with the installation. With the 
> user's permission, it would send a copy of the log to a database that 
> would allow the distro to better assess it's installer. The program 
> would then delete the installation program and the supporting files 
> (like the kernel, initrd, and packages that were still on the windows 
> partition). On the first linux boot, the user would be prompted to 
> create a user. At this point, the user would have a workable linux 
> distribution that would dual-boot with windows, all without having to so 
> much as burn a CD.
> Unfortunately, although I am computer literate, I have only the most 
> basic programming skills and do not have the knowledge necessary to 
> create this system. Obviously a lot of the work is already done: WINGRUB 
> and GRUB4DOS can facilitate a diskless installation, the Nullsoft 
> Scriptable Install System could serve as the base for the Windows part 
> of the installer, and debian-installer linux part of the installer 
> (perhaps the work being done for an OEM installer will help) . The only 
> thing left to do is to put these pieces together. If anybody actually 
> reads this far, what do you think? Is this even a good idea? Would you 
> be willing to work on this? Do you have any suggestions on other places 
> to post this message (so far, I've only posted it to the Ubuntu users 
> list and Breezy Forum)? Is there an install team for Ubuntu that I could 
> propose this idea to? Thank you for taking the time to read and consider 
> this idea.
> Best, Michael
David Bain <david.bain at>
Alteroo Consulting Group
Suite 8, Technology Innovation Centre
University of Technology 


Alteroo - code for change
Linux . Web . Zope . Intranets
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