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Old 07-19-2004, 02:49 AM   #1
Registered: Jul 2004
Distribution: Slackware 10.2
Posts: 159

Rep: Reputation: 30
Trying to install Linux...Old System won't boot/install from disk.

I'm trying to install linux on an old computer cobbled together from old parts, a Celeron 433 w/ 130 (yes, 130 lol wtf?) megs of RAM, 6g HD.

Anyway, It boots fine into windows, I can cancel by the 98se login (the hard drive was from a school computer, so it has certain protocols (the login) anyway, I can logon, and windows recognizes the CD rom and the floppy drives, but I can't seem to get it to recognize any media put in either. I usually get a "drive not ready" abort retry message.

hmm what's all that?

anyway, I put the Linux boot disk in and try to boot from the disks, either a floppy or CD bootdisk, and I get 'Invalid System Disk' AbortRetryFail.

Any suggestions.....?

Bios was altered to boot from A:\ or C:\ depending.

The CD-ROM is relatively new, 48x; maybe a couple years old, but new enough that it should brook no problems, the Floppy drive is older, pulled out of a similar system, I have 3 of them, and while it reads some disks, most give only a general failure... it seems to be the same, no matter which drive is being used.

I can no longer boot into Windows, my own fault, I got tired of waiting for it to load and simply turned the machine off, so it corrupted certain system files. What I'd really like to do is to format the sucker, then install Linux, but w/o being able to boot from media, or into an OS, I'm out of luck.

I've tried:
Slackware Boot CD
Windows 98se Boot CD
Various Slackware Boot floppies
Various Slackware Install floppies

The only ones that I could access (by trying to boot into C:\ and when it failed typing cd a:\ at the command prompt)
are the Slackware Install floppies, but it reads them as Gibberish...various ASCII2 characters that cannot be duplicated w/o the help of alt-code.

Anyway, any insight anyone could give would be appreciated, this is extremely frustrating.

hmm I tried to post this before, so no dice... I apologize if it turns out to be a double post... most profusely in fact.
Old 07-19-2004, 03:06 AM   #2
Registered: Mar 2004
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Distribution: FreeBSD, Suse
Posts: 103

Rep: Reputation: 15
You should be able to boot from a floppy, I would give up trying from the cdrom a lot of older machines dont support this and floppy should be fine.

Invalid system disk means it can't find an OS on the floppy, so it could be a couple of things...

1. The image wasnt copied to the floppy properly. When making a boot floppy you cant just copy the files, you need to use dd in linux, in windows there is a tool I am not sure what it is.

2. The floppies are busted. Try brand new ones.

3. The floppy drives are busted. Very common for old floppy drives to build up a magnetic charge on the heads, buy a new one real cheap

4. The bios is screwed and wont load the floppy - very unlikely!!
Old 07-19-2004, 10:41 PM   #3
Registered: Jul 2004
Distribution: Slackware 10.2
Posts: 159

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 30
Well...I've been working on this all day.

There is Windows98 and 95 installed on 2 different HDD's in the system, (I intend to format them before I install Slack) and so I've booted into both of them at one time or another, and neither can read any kind of floppy, and the CDROM isn't even recognized...It's as if one doesn't even exist. I have tried floppies that aren't bootable, well, one anyway, with just various files I thought I'd need for the install; applications mainly, and no dice with those, either.

1. I did use a imaging utility, I can't recall the name, but as it was directly from the Bootdisk directory of the Slack10 CD ISO, I"m confident this is not the problem.

2. I've tried 8+ floppies, so again, I don't believe the problem lies here.

3. Very possible, but I've tried 2 different drives, and have had the same, I'm not thinking this is the trouble...but it's possible.

4. I'm sort of out of maybe this one....? The bios detects it, but can't boot from any of the 4-5 boot disks I have, ranging from various Slack disks to a Win98boot disk. Maybe if I can figure out how to flash this old school bios I can fix it? Also, In Windows, or even at the command prompt, since I messed up Windows, and it no longer boots to the GUI I can't read the A:\ at all....., which IS the floppy FYI.

5. I have swapped all the cables for brand new ones. (I know not a point of yours, but also a possiblity.)

I'm fresh out of ideas, though, and I've tried everything.
The board is fairly old, a PII Slot 1 board, but it's no Pentium pro, so I'm thinking this Should work.

I apologize, for now I realize this thread should probably be in General.

Last edited by Diademed; 07-19-2004 at 10:52 PM.
Old 07-20-2004, 01:34 AM   #4
Registered: Mar 2004
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Distribution: FreeBSD, Suse
Posts: 103

Rep: Reputation: 15
This will work, dont know how well
1. Install linux on another machine

2. Take the hard disk out of your P2 and put it in the other machine as a slave

3 Partition the P2 disk with whatever setup you want using fdisk

4 Copy all the files over from the fresh install to the P2 disk

5 Install a bootloader on the P2 disk

6. Put it back in the machine and boot.

I would prob stick to a simple distro in this case.

The alternative which I cant guarantee to work, I am only theorising here...

1. Take the hard disk out of your P2 and put it in the other machine as a slave

2. Use dd to copy a bootable image to it... dd if=/home/mybootdisk.img of=/dev/hdb

3. Put it back in the machine and boot.

That might make the hard disk bootable so you can install a distro of the cdrom. This would be the preferable option but i dont know if it will work so its a chance youll have to take I guess. It seems you have exhausted all other possibilities, let me know how you get on.

Edit: I think that flashing old bios's requires an EEPROM programmer, should be able to buy one from dick smith/radio shack type stores. This would be a major pain in the arse to do though and I doubt it would pay off

Last edited by kinasz; 07-20-2004 at 01:36 AM.
Old 07-25-2004, 01:51 AM   #5
Registered: Jul 2004
Distribution: Slackware 10.2
Posts: 159

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 30
Well, I feel foolish now.

What happened was I had the floppy cable upside down, and had a faulty CD-ROM.

I fixed the cable and switched out the CDROM and everything went fine.

Thanks, all.


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