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i have tried booting with bare.i and old_cd.i
in the windows world, we have used the old reliable win98 system disk with generic cdrom support from oak technologies. worked with just about everything.
is there a similar thing in the linux/slackware world
While your media might have worked before I happen to lean towards Samac. I have had media work then suddenly decide it didn’t wont to. If you have the means burn another cd/dvd and see if that works before trying delving into a hardware issues.
For Dell check what motherboard chip is used for ide drives. If you only have ide drives there should be no problem. Maybe test26.s install kernel or newer kernel will work. If you have sata and ide drives that's another kettle of fish.
For old ibm PS check if one of the boot disks from slackware install page is needed to use that cd drive.Or check the BIOS to boot from cd. Happy slacking!