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I have this old Lappy that doesnt have a working HDD. So ive been on a quest to get it to boot some OS off a USB drive. This is ...
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  1. #1
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    No Native USB Support - And GRUB


    I have this old Lappy that doesnt have a working HDD. So ive been on a quest to get it to boot some OS off a USB drive. This is quite difficult because it doesnt have BIOS support for booting USB. Ive been playing around with linux and GRUB and stuff lately. So what im after is:

    A Floppy or CD that BOOTS GRUB and has USB support.
    So it Loads USB drivers or something, and then can boot whatever i choose. For Example, if i tell it to boot from the Win98 IO.sys file, it should boot thta way. The only issue i have is, as i have said, that the BIOS doesnt natively support USB booting.

    Like HOTPLUG.or something. Is there a way to load the linux usb drivers (like if it was loading a distro) and then start GRUB?

    Sorry, im all new to this. Anyway, Thanks for Reading ^^,
    Josh.

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer Freston's Avatar
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    Hi and welcome!

    I don't see what use such a device would be, if not a study object

    There are ways to do what you want. But of the top of my head they all require at least a basic level of knowhow on how to install an OS manually on non-standard issue hardware. If it is a study object, as I think, it could be a lot of fun. I would go for the manual approach and install Slackware 11 or a distro like that. All you want to do is have the system accept a USB-stick as the main hard drive, and have the boot loader on floppy.


    If however you want the Out Of The Box Experience, I think you'll be better off looking at DistroWatch and see if you find something to suit your needs.
    Can't tell an OS by it's GUI

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your reply!
    Yes, this is for fun, and something to do that requires thinking
    Now, i managed to get Puppy and Damn Small Linuxes working via a floppy that loaded usb drivers. Is there a way to get it to read the MBR of a USB drive manually? So that it would work with all linuxes and maybe even windows.

    I played around with GRUB some more today, and booted it off a floppy. The floppy left me at a comand prompt, and config.sys loaded the USB drivers. Then i ran GRUB, hoping that it would finally see the USB drive as a SDA or at least HD1. But it did not. I am quite new to this, so i might not havemounted it correctly.

    I tried 'root (HD1,1)' and lots of other combinations involving SDA and HDA and alot of numbers.

    Ive been looking at some sites that have useful information about this:

    B O O T _ U S B _ WITH _ FLOPPY - The CD Forum - Lots about it
    XP booting direct from USB - The CD Forum

    Im still reading the bottom one. Anyway
    Thanks for Posting - I Appreciate it!

    Josh.

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    Linux Engineer Freston's Avatar
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    Off the top of my head I'd say you need to ... ehm ... mount the USB drive. Not manually though, Grub must be told to do this for you. What kind of drive is it?? I'm not really sure, but I don't think all USB drives have a MBR. That is neither here nor there though, as long as the floppy kicks in during boot.

    Your USB drive is probably a sda*, when the floppy leaves you at the prompt. Can you type dmesg then? Scan for sda* (and hda* just to make sure which devices get recognized by the kernel).

    What is your grub.conf? (or menu.lst for some systems).
    Can you mount your USB drive manually, just to test if it's the right one.
    Can you find your fstab?



    ----


    I don't think you will get Windows to work, as Windows only works if it is on the first partition of the first hard drive. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I am
    Can't tell an OS by it's GUI

  6. #5
    Super Moderator devils casper's Avatar
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    You can use SuperGRUB CD to boot Linux installed in USB driver or in Internal HD.
    It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
    New Users: Read This First

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    Thanks for the informative reply Freston. My USB subject here is a Western Digital Passport (60 Gig). So it is a Hard drive. I chucked it into a machine with usb booting support and it booted, so it does have a boot secter.

    When i was playign around with GRUB the other day, i was using this:
    https://gna.org/projects/grub4dos/ - Grub for DOS. So it lots me boot the floppy, and the USB drivers. And then start GRUB. Which i thought would allow GRUB to see my USB drive, and 'Find and boot from NTLDR (WIN 2k/XP)'
    So yeah. In grub you can mount detected drives as hard drives, right?

    A few questions (i am really new to all the linux-y stuff)
    What is my grub.conf/menu.lst?
    how to i find my fstab?
    If the drive is found as an SDA, how do i scan for it.?

    Thanks again,
    Josh.

  8. #7
    Linux Engineer Freston's Avatar
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    I can't really help you on booting Windows from an USB device. Before today I would not even think that is possible, until I saw WinUSB.de. I stand corrected

    What have you got installed on your USB drive?
    Can't tell an OS by it's GUI

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