Installation Program for Windows

David Bain david.bain at
Tue Jul 12 22:24:38 CDT 2005

Other things to consider:
1. We need someone with the knowledge on the windows side to give us a
few pointers.
2. Perhaps we should have the first version be targeted at XP.
3. It is usually important to defrag the drive first.

On Tue, 2005-07-12 at 21:03 -0500, David Bain wrote:
> 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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