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In my case, the hard drive failed and the MBR was lost. I had to re-install.
If you could create a boot disk from some other machine, and thne boot from that floppy, you may be able to see if indeed the HD failed...if only the MBR is hosed (in which case you can retrive your personal data (if you have a device to dump it off to).
Wait for any other post for a possible salvage solution.
If your machine is some kind of netPC, it might have support for PXE, and you could boot from another PC as if you have a floppy disk (see options ion your BIOS).
You could also try to install first another OS like FreeDOS, and use a bootmanager (like Vamos), and then install your Linux version and install your bootmanager in the first part of your boot-partition (not in the MBR).
If that doesn't work, I would try to change the harddisk to another machine which has a floppy. If that still doesn't work, I would try another bootmanager and/or another Linux distribution or a lower version of the same distribution.
By the way, are you sure your hard disk has no bad clusters ? you could try to change it....
There must be at least another dozen methods of getting Linux to work on a PC..... Good luck and keep on trying. Remember, it is always easier to get a Linux installed succesfully than a Microsoft OS that doesn't want to from the first time.
If it really doesn't work, just dump your PC. Yesterday I prefered to smash my portable rather than installing an unstable viruslike software from Microsoft on it !
I'm not sure if peterg said this, but do check your boot sequence options in your bios. If you not familiar with this, it is the option that tells your system in whcih order to go thru the drive in your system to boot from. For example: a, c, cdrom - this would check your floppy drive first for a bootable disk, then if not found, go to your harddisk for to see if thats bootable, if not, go to your cdrom.
(I'm sure you know all this)
BUT in some bios, you can actually, DISABLE the harddisk from the boot sequence all together.
Apathy, I had the exact same problem but I didnt choose the MBR for Lilo, the option in Slackware 8.0
setup that says (possibly unsafe) underneath it.
I know you said you installed in the MBR but just double check before you do anything else..
In Lilo, how far Lilo gets in printing the word "LILO" has specific meaning as to what's wrong. LI, unfortunately means a bunch of things. The first thing I would try would be to boot the machine using the Slack 8 cdrom. After the kernel boots, it will prompt you with the option to mount the hard drive. You'll have to type something like: "root = /dev/hda1 (rw)". Make sure to give it the option (rw), when you get logged in, first look at /etc/lilo.conf and make sure lilo is looking for a vmlinuz in the right place, then no matter what, re-run lilo and see if that fixes it.