From Adam Sulmicki email@example.com I got this hint: Most but not all harddisks in laptops are removable, but this might be not an easy task. You could just buy one of those cheap 2.5" IDE converters/adapters which allow you to connect this harddisk temporarily to a PC with IDE subsystem, and install Linux as usual using that PC. You may do so using the harddisk as the first IDE drive or besides as the second IDE drive. But than you need to be sure that lilo writes to the right partition. Also you have to make sure that you use the same translation style as your laptop is going to use (i.e. LBA vs. LARGE vs. CHS ). You find additional information in the Hard-Disk-Upgrade-mini-HOWTO. You might copy an existing partition, but it is also possible to achieve a customized installation.