Computer without operating system

symbolipoint

Homework Helper
Education Advisor
Gold Member
5,706
963
Already tried an internet search; apparantly some mention of Dell selling computers without operating systems in case a customer wants a computer this way. Any other sources of buying computers without operating systems so that someone could install whatever operating system which he desires. Seemingly to have to buy a computer with pre-installed system and then to uninstall it in order to install a different system seems like a waste.

One reason for getting a computer without an operating system might be so to install Windows XP instead of just accepting Vista; another reason would be for trying some form of Linux or other.
 

Dr Transport

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,232
393
The Dell auction site sells used computers without an operating system, these computers are used and refurbished but can be a decent machine.
 
397
0
Theres plenty of used computers out there that you could do this with. This is probably a dumb suggestion, but farely large hard drives aren't very expensive now. You could just throw a new one in. When I wiped the various hdds on my computers, I ran the program overnight so it wasnt a huge hassle. Just a thought.
 
The only setback with having an OS preinstalled is any extra cost. In many cases, there may not be an extra cost involved at all. Ordering in a special "empty" machine could in fact be more difficult. If you want to go ahead and put a new OS on it, then you wipe the old one. I don't see the problem.
 
44
0
an another reason for buying a pc without an os is so you dont have to pay for the os :D
 
397
0
an another reason for buying a pc without an os is so you dont have to pay for the os :D
Not really... I bought a used IBM, an older one, for 40$ and it has Windows Professional on it.
 
397
0
The only setback with having an OS preinstalled is any extra cost. In many cases, there may not be an extra cost involved at all. Ordering in a special "empty" machine could in fact be more difficult. If you want to go ahead and put a new OS on it, then you wipe the old one. I don't see the problem.
The problem is that he may not be as computer savvy. Chances are Symbolipoint doesn't want to take a chance ruining a computer, although wiping isnt the hardest thing to do. But in any event, if he doesn't feel comfortable wiping the hdd, there no point it trying it if you aren't confident.
 
4
0
Honestly, if his goal is to get a different operating system on his computer then there really isn't a way to actually ruin the computer. The only way that I can think of this happening is to try a low level format and this option is certainly not offered in the installers for your common operating systems. Windows <= 95 and modern Linux distro's will easily handle the actually repartitioning and formatting with little to no user input.
 
397
0
In my past few experiences with Linux it has taken 3 installs before it is fully functional and working correctly. Also I had weird problems with the auto partition built into the OS.
 
4
0
Well, unless you're multi booting, then you can easily delete all of the partitions and tell it to use the unallocated space.
 

Chris Hillman

Science Advisor
2,337
8
Mention live CD option

One reason for getting a computer without an operating system might be so to install Windows XP instead of just accepting Vista; another reason would be for trying some form of Linux or other.
For most Windows users, an easier mode of experimenting with linux would probably be to obtain a live CD so that one can run linux without installing anything on the hard drive. I've never used Windows (and am perenially amazed that such a product became so widely used), so I am not in a position to judge how easy the average Windows user would find this, but I frequently use live CDs and live memory sticks. They are ideal for certain maintainance and security tasks.

You can't really "ruin a computer" repartitioning drives, but you can render it temporarily unusable. In that case, repairing a partition table is one of the tasks a live CD distro like Knoppix is ideally suited for. Another is securely deleting all files and installing a fresh OS before donating and old computer to charity. And ditto Erudite, except that I'd use Knoppix to securely delete all files before the final step.

See Kyle Rankin, Knoppix Hacks, O'Reilly, 2005.
 
Last edited:

ranger

Gold Member
1,654
1
Chris, are you a Mac guy?
 

Chris Hillman

Science Advisor
2,337
8
Just curious

In my past few experiences with Linux it has taken 3 installs before it is fully functional and working correctly. Also I had weird problems with the auto partition built into the OS.
I've installed many a linux system and I've never had any problems (so far). Maybe that's because I've generally used fairly modern computers and generally avoided doing anything fancy in the initial installation. Which linux distro did you use? Were you installing from a live CD? If not, you should really try that sometime--- everyone I know has been very impressed the first time they see a live CD!
 

Integral

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,185
55
What am I missing? I have been doing this for something like 15yrs. You buy a case, a motherboard, a cpu, memory, video card, mouse, keyboard and a hard drive. but it all together. It is called build your own and is the ONLY reasonable way to buy a computer. Stay as far away from Dell, Gateway, HP/Compaq as you can. You do need to do a bit of research to get a compatiable motherboard/cpu/memory combination.
 
397
0
I've installed many a linux system and I've never had any problems (so far). Maybe that's because I've generally used fairly modern computers and generally avoided doing anything fancy in the initial installation. Which linux distro did you use? Were you installing from a live CD? If not, you should really try that sometime--- everyone I know has been very impressed the first time they see a live CD!
Yes, all of the computers were new. I used Ubuntu CD's and Fedora CD's right from the distro website. I've used both types. I also had problems trying to install with the disc after the third try. It was as if the disc became useless to the point of being a frisbee. There weren't any scratches on the disc considering I just left the disc in the CD/DVD drive. Maybe I just have bad luck.:cry:
 

ranger

Gold Member
1,654
1
Yes, all of the computers were new. I used Ubuntu CD's and Fedora CD's right from the distro website. I've used both types. I also had problems trying to install with the disc after the third try. It was as if the disc became useless to the point of being a frisbee. There weren't any scratches on the disc considering I just left the disc in the CD/DVD drive. Maybe I just have bad luck.:cry:
Not bad luck. You just need to:
a) Check the md5 check sums for each ISO.
b) Use fdisk/cfdisk to make your partitions. Ubuntu for example has a horrible partitioner.
c) Or mayby you need to use something other than the default kernel or modules to support your "newer" hardware.
 
397
0
Not bad luck. You just need to:
a) Check the md5 check sums for each ISO.
b) Use fdisk/cfdisk to make your partitions. Ubuntu for example has a horrible partitioner.
c) Or mayby you need to use something other than the default kernel or modules to support your "newer" hardware.
Thanks ranger! I never thought about that. I also learned that Ubuntu has a horrible partitioner the hard way. :cry: When referring to "newer" hardware, what is the time frame to relate to "newer"?

-Steve
 

ranger

Gold Member
1,654
1
I can't give a range exactly. But I mean configurations like SATA and SATA based RAID. I've seen a bunch of problems with installing on SATA hard disks because there weren't any modules (drivers are referred to as modules in the Unix/Linux world) for the particular SATA controller.
 
397
0
I was running it on a laptop when I tried. It may be helpful to note that it was IDE based. That may have been a bottleneck for the system. If so, ill just set up a dual boot on my new computer (new as in bought all the parts off newegg last month) and see how that goes. The trial I had that lasted was awesome with Linux, I just had major problems with it a few days after the install.
 

Chris Hillman

Science Advisor
2,337
8
Steve, learning something different from what you are used to is often daunting at first. Ubuntu's installer actually has the reputation of being excellent, so I'm a bit surprised to hear that your experience was disappointing. I am told that installing on laptops is often trickier than installing on desktop machines.

What "major problems" did you experience? (If I understand you correctly, that comment refers to a different linux installation experience, no?)
 

ranger

Gold Member
1,654
1
Steve, learning something different from what you are used to is often daunting at first. Ubuntu's installer actually has the reputation of being excellent, so I'm a bit surprised to hear that your experience was disappointing. I am told that installing on laptops is often trickier than installing on desktop machines.
Hey Chris, I've installed Ubuntu on about 15 machines (fairly up-to-date). Just under 50% of the installations failed on the first try. Because it was insisted that I use separate partitions for /home, /usr, and so on. I had to partition each drive individually. This is where gparted (ubuntu's partitioner) failed miserably. I ended up doing everything with fdisk/cfdisk.
Thats not all, the bootloader installation failed half of time! I've definitely learned my lesson here. LiveCD installation are horrible.
 

Chris Hillman

Science Advisor
2,337
8
Install from a live CD?

Hey Chris, I've installed Ubuntu on about 15 machines (fairly up-to-date). Just under 50% of the installations failed on the first try. Because it was insisted that I use separate partitions for /home, /usr, and so on. I had to partition each drive individually. This is where gparted (ubuntu's partitioner) failed miserably. I ended up doing everything with fdisk/cfdisk.
Thats not all, the bootloader installation failed half of time! I've definitely learned my lesson here. LiveCD installation are horrible.
I've had entirely the opposite experience (so far, I'm just about to try another one, as a matter of fact). Turning things around, I suspect that your insistence on not letting Ubuntu partition its region of your hard disk in the manner it prefers might be the problem. gparted has an excellent rep in my world, BTW. I suspect the steep learning curve might be the problem--- if I went insane and wanted to install Windows I'd probably have trouble using Partition Magic or whatever it's called :wink:

[EDIT: I just timed the installation of a RHEL derivative from a live CD: it took half an hour (but many other installations take literally five minutes) and it worked flawlessly. Then I decided to experiment thoughtlessly and broke something (easy to do if you enabled SELinux). There's a lesson here--- experiment, why not? You can always reinstall a fresh system if trying to figure out what you did seems like too much trouble, which applies to me after 15 minutes of uninspired fiddling around. After all I have no files on this system yet, so simply reinstalling while sticking closer to the defaults seems like a reasonable idea.]

Advice to anyone curious about trying a live CD: again, the miracle is that these allow you to experiment with linux (and also to repair Windows boxes) without actually changing anything on your hard drive (unless you want to do so, that is). If you like what you see and want to experiment further, I'd advise giving the installation its head, i.e. don't wander too far from the default choices. If you are unhappy with the results, you can always use Knoppix to wipe them and start over with different choices. Since as Ranger noted distros like Ubuntu or Mepis install in five minutes, this need not be as time consuming as it might sound. Just remember: steep learning curve means the ratio of results to effort is initially frustratingly modest, but soon begins to turn sharply upwards.
 
Last edited:
397
0
Steve, learning something different from what you are used to is often daunting at first. Ubuntu's installer actually has the reputation of being excellent, so I'm a bit surprised to hear that your experience was disappointing. I am told that installing on laptops is often trickier than installing on desktop machines.

What "major problems" did you experience? (If I understand you correctly, that comment refers to a different linux installation experience, no?)
Yes, major linux problems. I tried Fedora first, and that failed to boot the first 5 times I installed it. It just wouldn't boot at all. Ubuntu would just keep saying that there was no OS installed even though I went throught the complete install. I then wiped the hard drive clean and tried to reinstall, except this time it froze. I have no idea what is going on :cry:
 

Chris Hillman

Science Advisor
2,337
8
Bizzare. I have no idea what could be causing that, Steve. Re the second attempt, are you sure that Ubuntu was "saying there was no OS installed" and not the BIOS for that machine? Maybe the problem was that you somehow failed to install the bootloader?

[EDIT: Ubuntu install took much longer than expected (since I selected a particular langauge, why does Ubuntu bother to fuss over dozens of other locales?), but it worked flawlessly and now you can color me brown! At least until I switch back to one of my other machines.... or reboot using another OS on this one... Again, the key may be that I gave the installer its head, and chose default for most options.]

[EDIT: Ubuntu thinks a shell is an "accessory"!:rolleyes: Anyway, fdisk isn't a bad idea. Some installers might work better if you have already prepared the way, so I'll play with that now.]
 
Last edited:

Related Threads for: Computer without operating system

Replies
21
Views
2K
Replies
18
Views
4K
Replies
8
Views
15K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
4K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
35
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
5K
Top