Install Mint with no cd/usb

  11 years ago

For those of you with no cd drive (or disks) and no spare usb stick. Installing Linux Mint can be a battle. This tutorial aims to make it easy and painless to install Mint to any pc, even if all you have is a hard disk that is owned by windows.


ISO of your desired mint edition (e.g. mint 9 main)

Parted Magic ISO

Unetbootin Installer

recommended minimum 1Gb Ram

Step 1 - Editing partitions

First, some background on partitions. A Hard disk may be split into partitions. each one acts like its own individual hard disk. Each operating system you install requires a partition. So far so simple. The problem is that windows will probably already have used the whole disk for its partition, and partitions (normally) can't be resized when they're in use. Unetbootin, however, can cheat and have two operating systems on one partition. How it does this is beyond the scope of this tutorial, it's enough to know that it is functional but not an optimal way of doing things.

Run the unetbootin installer. choose your parted magic iso and choose frugal install. Install it to your windows partition (normally C:) when it tells you it's done you can reboot. When you reboot into your unetbootin installation you should be able to choose to load Parted Magic entirely into RAM. This means that, once running, it will not actually be using the hard disk at all - leaving you free to resize the partitions.

Once Parted Magic has booted, select the gparted application. It's fairly easy to use. simply select your windows partition, click edit, and shrink it by about 8Gb. Make sure you leave the empty space to the right of the partition (yes it is important). Then click apply.

Step 2 - Installing the system

Reboot into Windows. Unetbootin may prompt you to remove the installation. If not running the unetbootin installer again should remove it. (If neither happens then control panel and add/remove programs on XP or Programs and features on vista/7 and remove it there).

Run the Unetbootin installer again and this time, select your linux mint iso to use for the frugal install. Reboot into this new installation.

Once in mint, run gparted (yes again). In the spare space create a new partition, and format it as ext4 (often you'll be told to create a swap partition; you can if you want; I don't normally; google will tell you more). Click the install icon on the desktop. When it gets to partitioning, click specify manually. Choose your new partition and pick use as: ext4, mount point: /

Let the installer do its job. now you have a choice. Left like this the system will allow you to dual-boot (i.e. choose between linux and Windows when yu switch on the pc). However, you may want to get rid of windows completely. Which leads to...

Step 3 - Removing Windows

Reboot to Windows. Remove Unetbootin (you'll want to do this even if you're dual-booting). Reinstall Parted Magic as we did in step 1. Reboot to parted magic (loading it to RAM again).

Open up gparted (isn't it useful). First, delete the Windows partitions. Then (and this is very important), move the linux partition to the left, then grow it to the right. Do not try to grow it to the left. (This is the time to create your swap partition if you want one). Reboot

Finally, you may notice that when you reboot you still have an entry for windows in your menu. This can be fixed by reinstalling grub when you get to your linux installation. (by going to the terminal and typing: sudo apt-get reinstall grub-pc).

Note: Although this tutorial deals specifically with Mint and Parted Magic, it is possible to apply the same idea to any combination of distros, provided that the one you use to replace parted magic can load to ram and has a partitioning tool on it.

xenopeek 8 years ago

!!! WARNING !!!

Proceed with extreme caution on this tutorial as it may contain outdated information: a user on the forums followed step 1 and ended up with an unbootable computer (bricked).

The above is better achieved by using Plop Boot Manager; a safe way to enable booting from USB on computers that (no longer) support booting from USB. Plop can be put on a CD or installed to your MBR from Windows or Linux. See documentation at

longbowz 9 years ago

I was trying to boot multiple distributions, like Ubuntu 12.04 (32 & 64 bits), Linux Mint 12 & 13(Gnome & Cinnamon), from a single 8GB flash drive and find MultiBootUSB does exactly what I want.

The post below explains it a bit more.

sdam 10 years ago

I have used this tutorial to install LMDE Xfce 32-bit on a laptop (Toshiba Satellite Pro 4290) which has a broken CD drive and which cannot boot from USB.

Thanks a lot james.

mockturtl 11 years ago

New version available:

I'm thrilled this old paperweight can be a laptop again, but I can't get into PartedMagic. Selecting UNetbootin from GRUB gives:

Try (hd0,0): NTFS5: 3
Try (hd0,1): invalid or null
Try (hd0,2): invalid or null
Try (hd0,3): invalid or null
Try (fd0): invalid or null
Error: Cannot find GRLDR in all devices. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart.

Any ideas?

dorus43 11 years ago

Very interesting, I surely give it a try .thanks for sharing it.


grey1960envoy 11 years ago

very informative I think I may try this install on my next computer !!!

jessie0514 11 years ago

This is a good one just like other said "few screenshots might help".

remoulder 11 years ago

Good post though a few screenshots might help.