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  1. #1

    Booting a usb-stick via a floppy

    I've been trying to figure out how to chain-boot a linux system on a usb pendrive from a floppy for days now and I'm wondering if anybody has ever done this with any success.

    Here's my problem:

    I have set up a few linux systems on usb memory sticks (fedora install image and a completely customized system) and they both boot without problems on newer hardware like dell's optiplex. Not every computer out there has a sane bios/hardware - configuration though. On these I want to go through an intermediate boot floppy ("bios boots floppy"-"floppy boots usb pendrive").

    You'd think it would be as easy as chainloading with a grub bootdisk but because of the broken bios (I think) at least grub-legacy (0.9x) can't access anything on the pendrive.

    Does anybody know for sure if you can do this with the present state of grub2, that is does grub2 come with support for usb that does not rely on the bios, the documentation is a bit scarce?


  2. #2
    Super Moderator Roxoff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Nottingham, England
    Would it not be possible to boot from floppy not using grub, but using a 2.4 kernel compressed on the floppy with USB support built in? You cant use a 2.6 kernel like this 'cos it's too big - but I suppose you could boot from a CD this way?
    Linux user #126863 - see

  3. #3
    Yes, that is true. I have even found quite detailed howtos for creating boot disks for DSL and Knoppix which I imagine could easily be modified for most 2.4-based systems.

    I'd still like to construct a simple floppy that could yield control to the boot sector of a USB device on machines whose BIOSes won't do this automatically. This way there could be anything from the latest all-bells-and-whistles distro to a specialized diagnostics and repair system on the USB device. It would still boot with the same floppy if need be.

    One of the original reasons for my interest in this involves broken CD drives...

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4

    boot from floppy to usb hard drive

    just look here and let me know if you overcome it!!!!!

  6. #5
    Thanks for the reply.

    It looks like the article presents a version of the stripped-down knoppix solution though (which of course is perfect if that is what you need).

    I never found suitable software for what I wanted to do (have a generic all-purpose usb booter embedded on a floppy) and have not really looked into the issue lately. Maybe "booting from usb" is better supported in new hardware/bios configurations than it was a year ago in which case the floppy would finally become obsolete.

  7. #6
    Well, there was big enough silence after the last post, but for everyone *still* interested:

    there is some boot manager, called PLoP and written by some austrian guy:

    It has ability to boot some USB devices (mainly flash-sticks). The manager can be started from CD, floppy, Windows boot menu, Syslinux, LILO, GRUB:

    The it can installed onto hard disk.


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