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Old 03-11-2003, 01:41 PM   #1
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Please Help Me With This Stupid Computer!(Linux)


I am at the time trying to learn linux. I have a computer downstairs that is dual boot linux + windows xp.

In my room upstairs, I have a very, very old pc like 133Mhz. It used to have windows 98 on it, and ran fine. Now I don't know what is wrong with it. I think I deleted all the partitions it had on it. Now I am tryin to load linux. When I turn it on with the linuc cd in the cd rom drvie it says :
ISOLINUX 1.75 2002-06-14 isolinux: Loading spec packet failed, trying to wing it
isolinux: Extremely broken BIOS detected, last ditch attempt with drive = 81
isolinux: Disk error 80, AX = 42CD, drive 81

Boot failed: press a key to retry...


Thats what it tells me. I am not great with computers, but I think it is something wrong with the HD, or maybe the little batter, as it sometimes tell me the batter is dead. Please, someone tell me what to do. Thanks for your help, Kyle.

Last edited by KyleLC23; 03-11-2003 at 01:44 PM.
Old 03-11-2003, 01:58 PM   #2
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isolinux: Extremely broken BIOS detected, last ditch attempt with drive = 81
Find out what BIOS you have installed and figure out how to "Flash" the bios. Also go into your BIOS and try changing some things around. Your BIOS may be trying to do things that Linux wants to do so if you have any options in your BIOS that say something like 'Allow Operating System to control this' then enable those.

You may want to tinker with your BIOS a lot before you give up.
Old 03-11-2003, 02:14 PM   #3
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How do find what bios I have? I know how to get into he bios, but have no clue what version it is ect.? How do I falsh the bios, and what does that do?
Old 03-11-2003, 02:39 PM   #4
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but have no clue what version it is ect.
You should find manufacturer and version number
once you're there...

Old 03-11-2003, 04:34 PM   #5
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The first thing to check is that whatever hard drive(s) you have are cabled and jumpered correctly.

Next check the BIOS. Make sure that Plug and Play is turned off, then make sure the hard drive(s) is/are referenced correctly. What seems to be happening is that the installer's version of Linux is not finding the primary master IDE device and is then trying to find the next logical drive (081). This sometimes happens when a drive is somehow mapped differently than what would normally be expected from the physical setup of the drives.

If you have any of the manufacturer's documentation for the PC, try to find if there is a way to restore the BIOS settings to the factory defaults. Sometimes this is done with jumper settings, especially on older PCs.
Old 03-11-2003, 05:17 PM   #6
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If you can find the manufacturers website you ought to be able to get some technical support and/or download a replacement (depends how old it is I guess). My housemate was able to fix his broken BIOS that way.
Of course, that still means you need the manufacturer name and version number.
Old 04-15-2003, 10:25 AM   #7
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I got exactly the same message "extremely broken bios..." when installing mandrake.
The problem in my case was the boot sequence, this was set to cdrom, floppy, hard disk.
When I changed it to boot from floppy first, it worked. (with a boot floppy created from the install cd that is)

Old 04-15-2003, 06:12 PM   #8
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Try the boot floppy option. The 80 and the 81 refer to hardware ID's for the primary master and slave drives respectively.

The long and the short of it is that the installer doesn't like your bios. (Or more probably, your BIOS isn't providing a complete enough picture for the installer to determine where the CDROM drive actually lives.)
Old 05-29-2004, 10:44 PM   #9
Steve Cirimele
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I had this "Exremely broken BIOS" message and could not install RH Enterprise Linux ES on an old Compaq machine. I followed the "use the boot floppy" solution suggested here on this forum. It worked for me (BIOS upgrades and other things didn't work, the using the boot floppy did). Thank you very much for posting that suggestion.

Steve Cirimele
Old 08-02-2004, 11:51 AM   #10
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Good solution. Had same problem while trying to install Fedora onto an old machine (TC430HX mobo using a pII 300). After changing the boot sequence from SCSI, C, A to A, C, SCSI, all went fine. (I didnt even have to use a bootflop, it booted right from the CD).

Thx for the answer
Old 09-01-2004, 09:48 AM   #11
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Question extremely broken bios

I have gotten the extremely broken bios message also. Following the suggestions in this tread, I attempted to boot from floppy using a tiny version of Linux (tomsrtbt is the one I used). I mounted the cdrom drive successfully, which has the gentoo liveCD in it. Does anyone what command I use to run the liveCD from the command line?
Old 12-09-2004, 06:02 PM   #12
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"Extremely broken BIOS detected" is coming from ISOLINUX which is probing the hardware on the system during the boot sequence of LINUX. If the CD-ROM can be detected or ran using another bootable operating system CD, then the hardware, and the motherboard BIOS are working fine. If you can boot up using a floppy disk with either a type of DOS or a LINUX bootdisk and access the CD-ROM drive, there is nothing wrong with the hardware setup of your system. You have now worked around the software issue with ISOLINUX if the system boots up to LINUX through the floppy boot disk method.

This issue has now become a software problem with ISOLINUX if this is the case. You can try the install again using isolinux-debug.bin and send the codes to the SYSLINUX mailing list by joining the list at and the coders of ISOLINUX will attempt to resolve your issue.

You can also surf through the previous mailing list archives (SYSLINUX Archives) at which are archived by month and year.

You can also check the "hardware" link at for compatibility that are known issues.

Inherently there are some default configuration options that must be set in all BIOSes with motherboards that have disk/CD-ROM controllers that have the "El Torrito" bootable CD-ROM option. That setting for Adaptec SCSI controllers can be located under the CTRL-A configuration utility during the POST (Power-on Self Test) operation when the system first comes up. The setting "BIOS Support for bootable CD-ROM" must be enabled in "Configure/View Host Adapter Settings"/"Advanced Configuration Options". The enter key and arrow keys of the keyboard is how you navigate and set options with Adaptec controllers. If you have no SCSI hard disks or SCSI removable disks, another setting to change would be "BIOS translation for Int13 Extensions" to disable as ISOLINUX has been known to have problems with Interrupt 13 according to their website.

For systems that have the option in the BIOS to change the boot options, they should be CD, A, Hard Disk or as some BIOSes have it, "C". Then there are the BIOSes that have "SCSI" as an option. So the boot order would be SCSI, A, HDD-0 or C. Even if the BIOS is set to CD and not SCSI for systems that have their CD-ROM drive on the SCSI controller, the system or motherboard BIOS will be bypassed because the SCSI adapter itself has the "El Torrito" bootable CD-ROM option in it's own BIOS. There are yet other systems that need to have the BIOS set to choose "slotted devices first" so the PCI card is looked at before the onboard controllers. That is if there is a PCI adapter with the CD-ROM on it with either IDE/UDMA, S-ATA or embedded SCSI controllers on the motherboard.

This test was run on a system that has a working SCSI controller that boots a Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition CD fine for the install plus the system boots to a floppy which can access the SCSI CD-ROM drive yet all LINUX installs failed with nearly the same error messages which points to the hardware detection method of ISOLINUX and not the hardware. Here are the errors:

Yoper 2.1
ISOLINUX 2.11 2004-08-16 isolinux: Loading spec packet failed, trying
to wing it...
isolinux: Extremely broken BIOS detected, last ditch attempt with drive = 9F
isolinux: Disk error 01, AX = 4209, drive 9F
Boot failed: press a key to retry...

Helix 1.5
ISOLINUX 2.04 (Debian, 2003-06-06) isolinux: Loading spec packet
failed, trying to wing it...
isolinux: Extremely broken BIOS detected, last ditch attempt with drive = 9F
isolinux: Disk error 01, AX = 42BD, drive 9F
Boot failed: press a key to retry...

Fedora Core 3
ISOLINUX 2.11 2004-08-16 isolinux: isolinux: Loading spec packet
failed, trying to wing it...
isolinux: Extremely broken BIOS detected, last ditch attempt with drive = 9F
isolinux: Disk error 01, AX = 426F, drive 9F
Boot failed: press a key to retry...

Knoppix 3.6
ISOLINUX 2.04 (Debian, 2003-06-06) isolinux: isolinux: Loading spec
packet failed, trying to wing it...
isolinux: Extremely broken BIOS detected, last ditch attempt with drive = 9F
isolinux: Disk error 01, AX = 4231, drive 9F
Boot failed: press a key to retry...

SuSE 9.1 Personal
ISOLINUX 2.08 0x4072248c isolinux: Disk error 01, AX = 4240, drive 9F

I've been told to make boot floppies as workaround which defeats the purpose of having bootable CD-ROM images from the various LINUX distributions that have issues with ISOLINUX. This issue wouldn't be resolved if I have a new system that has a card reader for the various memory cards and just a CD-ROM with hard disks on the onboard controllers.

I've also been told to update ths sytem or motherboard BIOS which is slightly crazy since the hardware is obviously working. The jury is still out for a resolution from SYSLINUX, so before you go updating your BIOS, try the floppy boot disk option with both a FreeDOS and LINUX boot disk.

There are some neat BIOS utilities at this site if you wish to investigate the motherboard as the problem further:


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