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Old 12-07-2006, 11:06 AM   #1
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Problem with Boot Manager

I recently installed Linux on my computer's second hard drive. My goal is to use the GAG Boot Manager to boot Linux from a bootable floppy disk instead of booting with GRUB on the master boot record, so I used the option of installing GRUB in the Linux root directory instead of in the MBR. This particular distro (MEPIS) doesn’t seem to offer the option during installation of creating a floppy for booting MEPIS.

My problem is with GAG. When I start the computer from the GAG floppy disk, the word "GAG" briefly appears in the upper left corner of the screen after the BIOS checks are complete. Then a green "error reading disk" message appears and the computer hangs.

I created the GAG bootable floppy by copying GAG from an image file using rawwrite in Windows 2000. I tried copying GAG onto 3 separate floppy disks and had the same result with each floppy disk. I also tried using an earlier version of GAG (V4.6). The documentation for GAG is pretty thin. Apparently, it's "OS independent" and written in assembly language instead of DOS or some other recognizable language. Thus, it may be designed specifically around Intel. I have an AMD K-6 processor.

The "error reading disk" message has me puzzled. If my computer didn't interpret the GAG code on the floppy, would that message even appear? Or could the disk reading error refer to my hard drives?

Here are some particulars about my system:

Both of my hard drives are connected to the same IDE controller, with HD0 jumpered as “master” and HD1 jumpered as “slave.”

HD0 is 30GB in size and has a primary FAT32 partition where Windows98 lived once upon a time. Windows98 is now gone, so the primary partition is now just a tiny “legacy” boot partition that is used to start Windows 2000 Pro, which lives on a second logical FAT32 partition.

HD1 is 120GB in size and has six partitions: a primary NTFS partition I use for all my data, a logical FAT32 partition I use to store backup image files of HD0, a logical NTFS partition I have dedicated to a Windows 2000 page file. Following these partitions are the Linux partitions for /root/ and /home/, plus a Linux swap partition.

I also have a CD/DVD-ROM plus a CD/DVD RW drive connected to a second IDE controller. These are jumpered as “cable select.”

The motherboard is quite ancient (circa 1999) but the BIOS doesn’t seem to have any problem recognizing all of the drives and all of the partitions on the hard drives. The OEM doesn’t offer any recent BIOS upgrades, although I had reflashed the BIOS with the latest one that was offered (circa 2002).

I apologize for the length of my post, but I wanted to include as much information as possible to help the experts trouble shoot the problem. The documentation on GAG is very thin, so there isn't much help available there. I also checked the SourceForge forum, but it doesn't seem to identify my particular problem. I was hoping some expert may have run across the same problem and managed to fix it.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.
Old 12-08-2006, 06:40 AM   #2
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I'm sorry I can't really help with your problem, I just had a question for you. Floppys are very unreliable. I would imagine you would want to reliably boot your computer. Why would you want to use a floppy ? Seems like a poor solution to the problem. There should be a way to install grub to a cdrom and boot from that, if you are sure you want to boot from removable media.

Best of luck...

Old 12-08-2006, 01:33 PM   #3
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Here's Why

budword -

You're absolutely right about floppies being unreliable. But here's the reason for what I'm trying to do:

I'm not quite ready to make my Linux installation "permanent," so I don't want to leave my existing boot loader as is. (I share this computer with other people and I don't want them to "freak out" by seeing all the GRUB and Linux stuff when they turn on the computer, or complain about having to scroll down to Windows on the menu!) So for the time being, I want to boot into Linux with a floppy, and nobody will be the wiser.

I'm not worried about the floppy going "bad," because I'll just make another one from the image file. Eventually, I'll let GRUB do its thing on the MBR, but for now, I'd like to stick with booting to Linux with a floppy boot manager.

Meanwhile, I'm using Smart Boot Manager on a floppy. Its user interface and menu aren't great, but at least it works.

Old 12-11-2006, 05:15 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by joany
I also have a CD/DVD-ROM plus a CD/DVD RW drive connected to a second IDE controller. These are jumpered as “cable select.”
why so , why not as master and slave?
Is GAG a linux or windows program, I don't know it . What does it do?
If a windows it wont read any ext3 file systems

Have you seen this

for help choose search and put in words as close as you can to what you want.
follow it back up to HomeBoy for some other goodies

Last edited by tytower; 12-11-2006 at 06:07 AM.
Old 12-11-2006, 08:43 PM   #5
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tytower -

To answer your first question, the cable select mode was the way the original manufacturer set up the CD-ROM and the CD-RW drives. When I replaced the CD-RW with a CD/DVD-RW, I simply carried through the same jumpering.

To answer your second question, GAG boot loader program is neither a Windows nor a Linux application. It is written in assembly language. You copy the program onto a floppy and it boots when you start the system, giving you a choice as to which OS to boot to.

I recently did a MEPIS installation with Windows 2000 already installed, and chose to install GRUB on /root instead of the master boot record. I left the master boot record alone, because I want the computer to boot into Windows 2000 automatically when I turn on the computer (at least for the time being). In order to boot into MEPIS, I need to insert a floppy disk with a boot loader on it ... that's where GAG comes into the picture. You can find out about it here.

GAG is intended to boot multiple OS's, so I think it should be able to handle Linus partitions (EXT2, EXT3, or Reiser). As I stated in my previous post, I use Smart Boot Manager, but its user interface leaves something to be desired.

Eventually, I'll install GRUB on the master boot record and have a true dual-boot system, but I'm just not quite ready for that step yet. (In fact, I might just kill Windows and go 100% MEPIS!)
Old 12-11-2006, 09:34 PM   #6
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Easiest solution if you insist on keeping the 'doze boot loader is to copy the (MEPIS) boot sector record to your C: drive and add an entry to boot.ini.
Leave 'doze as the default, and none of your other users will (probably) be any the wiser.
Plenty of howtos around.


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