Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

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Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby Keith_Beef » 2017-08-25 07:01

Hello, everybody. I signed up to the forum a few minutes ago, and have an installation problem.

A search of the forum found me 23 matches, but none were relevant to my case (Search found 23 matches: +stretch +install +external +usb).

I recently bought a second hand Thinkpad X220, specifically to install Debian 9 "Stretch", I removed the 4GB of RAM and the 240GB SSD containing Windows 7 from it and then installed two × 8GB and a fresh 250GB SSD. This computer has no internal optical drive, so I connected an external USB DVD drive and in the BIOS set the boot order to boot from USB.

I booted and ran a live version of 9.01 Stretch from a magazine coverdisk (UK magazine Linux Format), but didn't try getting any of the possibly problematic hardware to work (for example, I did not test the camera, WiFi, Bluetooth, fingerprint reader). I also ran the memory test from the coverdisk. Everything looks fine.

Then from my main computer running Ubuntu, I downloaded the standard 9.01 ISO image from the Debian site and burned this to a new CD-ROM, put this into the drive attached to the X220 and rebooted.

I chose the Expert Graphical installation option and got through the first few steps (language, additional locales, keyboard layout, time zone), but then got stuck...

The prompt started asking about extra CD-ROM hardware and drivers. This surprised me, because the installer was already running from the attached USB drive. I don't remember the exact questions, but they were something like "try to install extra firmware for optical drives". I tried answering "no", tried answering "yes", tried skipping the step altogether, but I could not get any further in the process.

I downloaded the non-free ISO image and burned that to another CD-ROM, and ran into exactly the same problem.

Are there known problems and workrounds when using USB optical drives? Or would I be better off just abandoning this route, and installing from a USB stick?

I'm not new to Linux; I first tried Slackware back in 1996, while still using Windows 3.11 for my daily home use and a mixture of NT4, MacOS, IRIX, SunOS, AIX and HP-UX at work. I switched completely to RedHat at home in 1997 and started using RedHat Enterprise at work in around 2000. At home I switched to Mandrake and then Mandriva for a while before adopting Ubuntu in early 2006. I've been using Debian at work for the past 18 months. I also tinker a bit with Raspbian.
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby TonyT » 2017-08-25 10:57

Install via USB thumb drive. It's much faster too.
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby Lysander » 2017-08-25 10:59

Keith_Beef wrote: Or would I be better off just abandoning this route, and installing from a USB stick?


Yes.
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2017-08-25 11:14

There is no reason for installing Debian from an DVD anymore. Most notebooks today come without the optical drive, since USB's and SD cards are the future. Soon we will be having even smaller mobile storage devices. It's good to have an external DVD drive for odd purposes, but it's not required to install Debian, or any other OS anymore.

EDIT: You will most likely need to install non-free firmware in order to get that external DVD drive to work with Debian.
Last edited by Wheelerof4te on 2017-08-25 14:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby Keith_Beef » 2017-08-25 13:06

Wheelerof4te wrote:...It's good to have an external DVD drive for odd purposes, but it's not required to install Debian, or any other OS anymore.

EDIT: You will most likely need to install non-free firmware in order to get that external drive to work with Debian.


Thanks for your advice.

I picked up a USB stick at midday and I'll give it a try when I get home tonight.

I still don't understand why I'll need non-free firmware for a USB optical drive, though, when the pure and free installer manages to start the process and reads data from that drive...
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby pendrachken » 2017-08-25 13:29

Wheelerof4te wrote:There is no reason for installing Debian from an DVD anymore. Most notebooks today come without the optical drive, since USB's and SD cards are the future. Soon we will be having even smaller mobile storage devices. It's good to have an external DVD drive for odd purposes, but it's not required to install Debian, or any other OS anymore.

EDIT: You will most likely need to install non-free firmware in order to get that external drive to work with Debian.



Yeah..... no.

Sure, I will need firmware for my generic USB drive... that is quite obviously working since it is booting and starting the install. Right....


@OP:

It may be a bug in the graphical installer. You could try to switch to VT2 where the installer log is to see why it is hanging. Either that or you could try to install wither without the graphical installer, or without using the expert installer. Expert installs are rarely needed unless you have some really problematic hardware.
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2017-08-25 14:05

pendrachken wrote:Sure, I will need firmware for my generic USB drive... that is quite obviously working since it is booting and starting the install. Right....


so I connected an external USB DVD drive


The prompt started asking about extra CD-ROM hardware and drivers. This surprised me, because the installer was already running from the attached USB drive. I don't remember the exact questions, but they were something like "try to install extra firmware for optical drives".

I was talking about OP's external optical DVD drive, not generic USB thumbdrives. And no, it's not working since the installer says so. If it can read from the drive, it doesn't mean it can write, which in this example it clearly can't.

Not reading the entire thread makes you misunderstand a lot, you know. But I'll fix it so I don't have to deal with people misquoting me all the time...
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby Keith_Beef » 2017-08-25 16:50

No luck so far…

I followed a link from https://www.debian.org/releases/stretch ... installer/ to https://www.debian.org/releases/stretch ... images-usb where I read:

It's also possible to install from removable USB storage devices. For example a USB keychain can make a handy Debian install medium that you can take with you anywhere.

The easiest way to prepare your USB memory stick is to download any Debian CD or DVD image that will fit on it, and write the CD image directly to the memory stick. Of course this will destroy anything already on the memory stick. This works because Debian CD images are "isohybrid" images that can boot both from CD and from USB drives.

There are other, more flexible ways to set up a memory stick to use the debian-installer, and it's possible to get it to work with smaller memory sticks. For details, see Section 4.3, “Preparing Files for USB Memory Stick Booting”.


So I follow a link to https://www.debian.org/releases/stretch ... n#usb-boot where I read:

If your computer will boot from USB, this will probably be the easiest route for installation. Assuming you have prepared everything from Section 3.6.2, “Boot Device Selection” and Section 4.3, “Preparing Files for USB Memory Stick Booting”, just plug your USB stick into some free USB connector and reboot the computer. The system should boot up, and unless you have used the flexible way to build the stick and not enabled it, you should be presented with a graphical boot menu (on hardware that supports it). Here you can select various installer options, or just hit Enter.


So I follow that link, too, to https://www.debian.org/releases/stretch ... 03.html.en where I read:

The CD or DVD image you choose should be written directly to the USB stick, overwriting its current contents. For example, when using an existing GNU/Linux system, the CD or DVD image file can be written to a USB stick as follows, after having made sure that the stick is unmounted:

Code: Select all
# cp debian.iso /dev/sdX
# sync



OK, at last, after following three links I finally have the two lines that purport to be the method for preparing a USB stick for a Debian installation. So I do that,
Code: Select all
$ sudo cp firmware-9.1.0-amd64-netinst.iso /dev/sdi1
$ sudo sync


And then I unmount the stick and plug it into the X220 and power on.

And I get an error "Invalid partition table". :(

Oh, well…

The instructions I have found so far don't mention any need to format the USB stick. Maybe the BIOS expects there to be a FAT32 filesystem on the stick. I'll give that a try.

I'll try the other image, debian-9.1.0-amd64-netinst.iso, and if that doesn't work then I'll try unmounting the USB stick's filesystem and then using dd to copy the image. Maybe I'll hit on the magic method that works.
Last edited by Keith_Beef on 2017-08-26 05:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby pendrachken » 2017-08-25 17:31

Wheelerof4te wrote:I was talking about OP's external optical DVD drive, not generic USB thumbdrives. And no, it's not working since the installer says so. If it can read from the drive, it doesn't mean it can write, which in this example it clearly can't.

Not reading the entire thread makes you misunderstand a lot, you know. But I'll fix it so I don't have to deal with people misquoting me all the time...



Optical USB drives, unless older than dirt, all work as generic mass storage passthoughs these days.

Yes, the drive "that the installer says isn't working" that started the installer is obviously at fault. Not the installer itself, which I might add has had quite a few known issues this release. Also it couldn't be due to using expert mode installation as mentioned in the OP, and addressed in my reply. Not to mention the actual non-paraphrased error message isn't available, also addressed in my reply RE: check the damn error log on VT2 / not using expert mode / not using graphic mode installations.

Somebody might want to go over reading comprehension a bit before trying ( and failing ) to call someone else out.


Ohhhh, lets add in that a standard burned DVD is Read Only Media, and the installer doesn't write anything to to the install media it is booted from, only to target writeable disks. It has been this way since the first available CDROM install media. Not sure why you would seem to think you even COULD write to the media from the installer.

@OP:

What is needed is to figure out the exact error message from the installer, NOT use the expert mode unless it is absolutely required, and then possibly look into known issues with the installer ( or check the checksums on the DVD / CD you are using ).
Last but not least, you could try skipping over the step in the installer that is failing, sometimes this works if it isn't a critical step. You should be able to get to the installation step menu by pressing escape ( unless the installer has changed in the last few years ) and skipping that step. If the way to the menu has changed, you will need to search how to get to it again.
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2017-08-25 17:46

pendrachken wrote:Not the installer itself, which I might add has had quite a few known issues this release.


Yes, that could be the problem.

pendrachken wrote:Ohhhh, lets add in that a standard burned DVD is Read Only Media, and the installer doesn't write anything to to the install media it is booted from, only to target writeable disks


Absolutely correct, my bad. I am guilty of pretending to know something I really don't.

pendrachken wrote:Somebody might want to go over reading comprehension a bit before trying ( and failing ) to call someone else out.


Yes, I'm sorry. I'm very bad at that, thank you for pointing it out.
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby TonyT » 2017-08-25 19:02

I've only ever used dd to make a bootable usb stick.

1. download the iso
2. connect usb stick
3. sudo fdisk –l
to find out the device name of usb stick, e.g. sdb
4. unmount the usb stick umount /dev/sdb
5. dd if=/path-to-downloaded-iso-image.iso of=/dev/sdb
6. wait a few minutes & when complete reboot.
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby sunrat » 2017-08-25 23:42

Keith_Beef wrote:...
The CD or DVD image you choose should be written directly to the USB stick, overwriting its current contents. For example, when using an existing GNU/Linux system, the CD or DVD image file can be written to a USB stick as follows, after having made sure that the stick is unmounted:

Code: Select all
# cp debian.iso /dev/sdX
# sync



OK, at last, after following three links I finally have the two lines that purport to be the method for preparing a USB stick for a Debian installation. So I do that,
Code: Select all
$ sudo cp firmware-9.1.0-amd64-netinst.iso /dev/sdi1
$ sudo sync


And then I unmount the stick and plug it into the X220 and power on.

And I get an error about it being an incorrect or unbootable image. :(

There is an important difference between the instructions and what you did. You need to write to the whole device, not a partition. Assuming your device is /dev/sdi, the command should be :
Code: Select all
$ sudo cp firmware-9.1.0-amd64-netinst.iso /dev/sdi
$ sudo sync

Or better to do it in one line:
Code: Select all
$ sudo cp firmware-9.1.0-amd64-netinst.iso /dev/sdi && sync
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Re: Problem installing Stretch from external USB CD

Postby Keith_Beef » 2017-08-26 05:26

Ah, that could be it, then. Before, I plugged the stick into my main computer, used df to see the mounted filesystems and wrote sdi1one corresponding to the stick.

Following your advice, I wrote to the whole device, not to the filesystem on that device.
Keith_Beef wrote:
Code: Select all
$ sudo cp firmware-9.1.0-amd64-netinst.iso /dev/[b]sdi[/b]
$ sudo sync


That worked; yesterday afternoon I managed to get the system set up.

This morning I've been able to read from that external USB optical drive, connect to my house WiFi network, connect through USB to an external DAC and amp, install Clementine and update my music library; right now I'm listening to Prime Audio Soup. Compared to the old Sony Vaio that it has replaced, this X220 is a greyhound.

Thanks to all of you for your help.
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