There could be a way around it if there's currently a dos partition on the machine. There's a dos linux loader (loadlin) that should be able to get you started at least. I don't know enough about loadlin or hacking code to be able to help you there, but I'm pretty sure some healthy searching would provide you a solution to replace the boot floppy with a hdd alternative.The Mandrake CD's have the "option" to install over a network but offer little instruction. It requires a boot disk????? Why?? Is there a way around this?? How do you install Linux Mandrake on a lap top that has no floppy nor CD-ROM??? Yes, no floppy drive. One of the users I support managed to break the floppy drive and then lightning took out the docking station that contained the CD ROM. It is now too expensive to fix the aging P2 lap top but it would make a great dual boot system. I've copied the CD's to the hard drive via NICs but I'm forced to make a boot floopy to begin the install. I've even shared out my CD ROM on the host and tried to install over the network but without a boot floppy I can't get the install to initiate. Any advice or wakeup call is welcomed ;D.
From there you'd need the NIC drivers from the network boot floppy, and your supported NIC installed on the machine. You'll have to give it an IP, hostmask, and provide some gateway info(if necessary), or you'll have a DHCP option.
Once you've got all that set, you can setup FTP on another machine on your network, pointing to your cd rom, and install from there. It will take a little longer, but does work really well. I've installed Redhat via FTP several times now. Fortunately for me, I had a working floppy drive to get the install initiated.
I'd really be interested in what you come up with for the initiliazation problem if you do indeed get a solution.