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Old 03-31-2007, 07:51 AM   #1
chantal4
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Registered: Mar 2007
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Syslinux boot floppy: how do I build it ??


Hello from Belgium -and please forgive my mistakes in English!-
I do not have Linux, I am a pure Dos/Windows product but...I work with old machines that cannot boot from CD, only from floppy. On these old PC's (pentium2), sometimes without USB ports, I have added PCI/USB cards so that I can plug USB keys and even external HDD (IDE>USB). All the devices work properly. The problems are the backups and ..the crashes. In those situations it is always interesting to have access to 'everything (i.e. : usb keys, HDD, external hdd etc)' from a boot floppy (and so be able to copy files/directories etc). Dos cannot do that (USB support in DOS is minimal). Syslinux can do that, I have seen it (even USB keys hotplugged were recognized). But I cannot build this bootable syslinux floppy.
I have downloaded the syslinux3.36 zip file (from: syslinux.zytor.com). There is a Win32 directory inside. If I run the syslinux -s a: command then ldlinux.sys is copied on the floppy (and the floppy becomes bootable), and that is all !! And after?? on the site I can read "Copy one or more Linux kernel files ": what does that mean??!!Then some Dos commands are given: "copy vmlinux a: ,copy initrd.gz a: " : where do I find these files? On a French forum somebody told me that it was not vmlinux but vmlinuz. True ?? what about the initrd file? Well, you have understood, I do not understand anything.. But if I could have this marvelous boot floppy having the ability to access all the (USB) drives, this would be great. Thanks everybody.
Chantal/Brussels/Belgium
 
Old 03-31-2007, 09:01 AM   #2
GrapefruiTgirl
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Hi Chantal in Belgium!
I'll try and give a bit of info here about what you describe, though I may definitely miss some details. Hopefully you will be able to fill in the blanks
OK, so you have got a bootable floppy, that's a good start!
Based on your post, it looks like the next thing to do is to copy a linux kernel onto the floppy, as well as the initrd (Initial Ram-disk info) onto the floppy. Also, where you say 'copy one or more linux files to the floppy' I *guess* if you have space on the floppy, you could copy some other tools you might need, but you will definitely need kernel modules to go with the kernel you use, unless the kernel is entirely compiled as one unit, with the modules built in.
Where to find this stuff: I haven't ever used Syslinux, however, on MOST if not ALL distributions, you will find the vmlinuz and initrd.gz files in the /boot directory of the linux system.
The kernel is typically named vmlinux, vmlinuz, zimage, or bzimage, and is located in /boot.
As for kernel modules, they are *usually* located in /lib/modules/<kernel-name> so for example, if your kernel is 2.6.13, then the modules, if any, will be in /lib/modules/linux-2.6.13/<HERE>.
You will especially want the modules for USB devices, by the sounds of things, as well as maybe a few more, depending on what exactly you need to do with the boot disk.

I hope this gets you started but please ask for more info if you run into problems.
Best of luck!

Last edited by GrapefruiTgirl; 03-31-2007 at 09:03 AM.
 
Old 03-31-2007, 01:56 PM   #3
chantal4
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Hello and thanks for answering,
I am afraid you have forgotten that I am in the newbie department and that I do not have Linux at all I have two so-called "live CD": Damn small Linux and Slax. Shall I find what is needed inside these cd's?? I really do not know. I will have a look tomorrow. Thks again, Chantal
 
Old 03-31-2007, 02:13 PM   #4
GrapefruiTgirl
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OK, I am going to leave this to someone far more expert than I am for the time being, as I really don't know how to go about advising you on making this disk from what you have available for Live-CD's. I see a few others here checking into your situation, and hope that one of them will have better information for you about making this diskette
I will check back and offer assistance if I can though
 
Old 03-31-2007, 03:16 PM   #5
2damncommon
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Quote:
I work with old machines that cannot boot from CD, only from floppy. On these old PC's (pentium2), sometimes without USB ports, I have added PCI/USB cards so that I can plug USB keys and even external HDD (IDE>USB). All the devices work properly. The problems are the backups and ..the crashes. In those situations it is always interesting to have access to 'everything (i.e. : usb keys, HDD, external hdd etc)' from a boot floppy (and so be able to copy files/directories etc). Dos cannot do that (USB support in DOS is minimal). Syslinux can do that, I have seen it (even USB keys hotplugged were recognized). But I cannot build this bootable syslinux floppy.
I think you may be on a wild goose chase.
Was it with one of the live-CDs that you were able to access your USB devices? And you want to be able to do that on PCs without bootable CD drives?
Syslinux is a bootloader. You probably saw the name when starting Linux.

EDIT: Slax has instructions for booting from a DOS floppy.
You can also run it from DOS (in the case your bios cannot boot from CD), just start X:\dos\linux.bat from the DOS prompt.

EDIT 2: And DSL instructions for floppy boot.

Last edited by 2damncommon; 03-31-2007 at 04:15 PM.
 
Old 04-01-2007, 04:12 AM   #6
chantal4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2damncommon
I think you may be on a wild goose chase.
Was it with one of the live-CDs that you were able to access your USB devices? And you want to be able to do that on PCs without bootable CD drives?
Syslinux is a bootloader. You probably saw the name when starting Linux.
Well, do not you believe me ?! Right, I saw Syslinux while the floppy was booting (and it was a floppy, not a CD). And yes, with this floppy (and without CD at all) I was able to access all the USB drives present on the machine (and I could copy files and directories from one drive to another). Do I need syslinux or not ??, it is not the real problem for me! I need the floppy !
I will, of course have a look at the Slack and DSL floppies, but I would like more than boot floppies..as I said in my first post.
Thanks everybody
C.
 
Old 04-01-2007, 10:59 AM   #7
2damncommon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chantal4
Well, do not you believe me ?! Right, I saw Syslinux while the floppy was booting (and it was a floppy, not a CD). And yes, with this floppy (and without CD at all) I was able to access all the USB drives present on the machine (and I could copy files and directories from one drive to another). Do I need syslinux or not ??, it is not the real problem for me! I need the floppy !
I will, of course have a look at the Slack and DSL floppies, but I would like more than boot floppies..as I said in my first post.
Thanks everybody
C.
Creating a boot floppy with a Linux kernel is not necessarily going to give you what you want. To be useful you would need a command shell and utilities. Since the kernel is so large now it is quite a trick to get it all on one floppy. Creating your own is not so simple and I was not sure this is a route you really want to take.
I do not know if the Linux utility floppy I know about does USB.
 
  


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