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  #1  
Old 13th December 2006, 10:11 AM
Bahamut Offline
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Portable FC6/GRUB on a floppy

I was just wondering how to set up FC6 to run from an external hard drive without putting a bootloader on the host machine's hard drive. I was told that GRUB could be run from a floppy,
but I haven't able to put it on one. The problem is that I don't know how to install GRUB onto one so that it works. Of course, if using GRUB from a floppy to boot FC6 is doomed to fail, I would love to hear some other suggestions. I've heard that most BIOSes will only recognize USB device partitions formatted with FAT as bootable. FAT's limit of 2GB is not enough!

This been a discussion here:
http://portableapps.com/node/1330
Perhaps it would give you some more information regarding the situation (because I probably forgot something ). I use the same username there as I do here.


I did use the handy search function here, but didn't really find anything too useful.



83000+ users, and I got my preferred username. Wow.

Last edited by Bahamut; 13th December 2006 at 10:15 AM.
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  #2  
Old 13th December 2006, 11:03 AM
multescugeorge@ Offline
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i would try the command
grub-install --recheck /dev/fd0
with the floppy present, but not mounted. Then try to boot from said floppy. See if it works
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  #3  
Old 13th December 2006, 11:21 AM
Bahamut Offline
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Anyway to install GRUB without installing FC6? I don't have it installed, and I don't want to install it twice.
Perhaps you could give me the files generated for you.
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  #4  
Old 13th December 2006, 11:30 AM
multescugeorge@ Offline
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not at my beloved FC6 computer right now
If you managed to install FC6 on the external drive, then login into it and give that command.
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  #5  
Old 13th December 2006, 03:14 PM
bruno.taglienti Online
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FC6 kernel + initrd are too big to fit in a floppy. You have to use a CD instead.
look at:
http://www.gnu.org/software/grub/man...le-CD-ROM.html
to understand how to build a bootable cdrom.

If your external device is USB or firewire, you also need a suitable initrd including the USB/firewire support. The options for mkinitrd are:

--with=scsi_mod \
--with=sd_mod \
--with=sr_mod \
--with=ohci-hcd \
--with=uhci-hcd \
--with=ehci-hcd \
--with=usb-storage \
--with=ieee1394 \
--with=ohci1394 \
--with=sbp2
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  #6  
Old 13th December 2006, 05:01 PM
homey Offline
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Making a grub boot floppy isn't related to the size of kernel.
There are two kinds of grub floppy which I use. The first is a basic command line deal and the second is complete with boot menu.
From my notes ....
Code:
1. Basic command line grub boot floppy

This will make a bare bones Grub boot floppy, which is generic and will allow you to repair your boot loader in the MBR.

fdformat /dev/fd0
mke2fs -m 0 /dev/fd0

dd if=/usr/share/grub/i386-redhat/stage1 of=/dev/fd0 bs=512 count=1
dd if=/usr/share/grub/i386-redhat/stage2 of=/dev/fd0 bs=512 seek=1

Boot the floppy to the grub prompt. ( grub > )
Enter root directory  and mbr information. For example...
root (hd0,1)
setup (hd0)

2. Complete Grub boot floppy

This gives you the boot menu just like it was installed on the hard drive.

fdformat /dev/fd0
mke2fs -m 0 /dev/fd0
mount -t ext2 /dev/fd0 /media/floppy
mkdir -p /media/floppy/boot/grub
cp -pa /boot/grub/* /media/floppy/boot/grub
umount /media/floppy

# Create a text file called /home/stuff  ...

cat > /home/stuff << EOF
root (fd0)
#the following is all one line
install /boot/grub/stage1 d (fd0) (fd0)/boot/grub/stage2 0x8000 p (fd0)/boot/grub/menu.lst
#
quit
EOF

# Install grub to the floppy disk with this command:

grep -v ^# /home/stuff | grub --batch
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  #7  
Old 13th December 2006, 11:57 PM
Bahamut Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by multescugeorge@
not at my beloved FC6 computer right now
If you managed to install FC6 on the external drive, then login into it and give that command.
That's the problem. I want the GRUB floppy so that I can use FC6 on the external drive. It's a "key behind the locked door" situation.
Quote:
2. Complete Grub boot floppy

This gives you the boot menu just like it was installed on the hard drive.

fdformat /dev/fd0
mke2fs -m 0 /dev/fd0
mount -t ext2 /dev/fd0 /media/floppy
mkdir -p /media/floppy/boot/grub
cp -pa /boot/grub/* /media/floppy/boot/grub
umount /media/floppy

# Create a text file called /home/stuff ...

cat > /home/stuff << EOF
root (fd0)
#the following is all one line
install /boot/grub/stage1 d (fd0) (fd0)/boot/grub/stage2 0x8000 p (fd0)/boot/grub/menu.lst
#
quit
EOF

# Install grub to the floppy disk with this command:

grep -v ^# /home/stuff | grub --batch
I will try that with a live cd I have laying around here. Thanks.

Last edited by Bahamut; 14th December 2006 at 12:00 AM.
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  #8  
Old 14th December 2006, 03:57 PM
Bahamut Offline
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Didn't work. I used DSL, and even modified the instructions to match DSL's file structure (e.g. /mnt/floppy instead of /media/floppy). I also changed /home/stuff to /mnt/sda2/home/stuff. The last command started, but returned "file not found" and quit.
I tried booting with it in anyway, but the BIOS basically ignored it (didn't even say "invalid system disk"), and booted Windows.

I need a way to do this without using FC6. If it is absolutely impossible, I'll create another partition on the internal drive and install FC6 to it, but I'd rather not.
I installed FC6 to my external drive, so it's on /dev/sda2/ (sda1 is an NTFS partition I use for storage).
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  #9  
Old 14th December 2006, 05:03 PM
bruno.taglienti Online
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The main point is that if your bios is not able to boot from an USB disk, the kernel must be on
a bootable device, namely internal hd, cdrom or floppy. In this case putting grub on a floppy
is not sufficient to boot: grub is loaded, but it cannot locate the kernel. To my knowledge, the only
working method is a cdrom with grub, the kernel and an initrd with the kernel modules needed to
"see" the USB drive. This is the method I used and it works.
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  #10  
Old 15th December 2006, 08:37 AM
Jongi Offline
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Would this work for putting grub onto a USB stick?
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  #11  
Old 15th December 2006, 09:38 AM
bruno.taglienti Online
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If the motherboard bios recognizes the USB stick as a boot device, it works. Othewise, no hope.
See for example http://www.sysresccd.org to undestand how to create an emergency boot on
an USB stick.
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  #12  
Old 15th December 2006, 03:32 PM
Bahamut Offline
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If the BIOS can see a FAT partition as bootable, can I place a kernel on it that will then hand things over to the kernel on the ext3 partition containing FC6? If so, I can just create another partition instead of using a CD. I'll double check the BIOS's ability to boot from a FAT partition on a USB device.
Here's a report done by a BIOS utility I got a while ago:
Quote:
BIOS CAPABILITIES TEST REPORT
===============================

Generated by: BIOS Wizard 2.10
Date: December 15, 2006
Time: 08:28

PnP Version : BIOS currently supports latest version 1.0
PCI Version : BIOS currently supports latest version 2.1
PCI IRQ Routing Table : BIOS currently supports this feature
Enhanced Disk Drive
Specification : BIOS currently supports this feature
DMI Version : BIOS currently supports latest version 2.3
ACPI Version : BIOS currently supports latest version 1.0
APM Version : BIOS currently supports latest version 1.2
Booting From CD-ROM : BIOS currently supports this feature
Supports ESCD : BIOS currently supports this feature
Can be Updated (flashed) : BIOS currently supports this feature
Can be Shadowed : BIOS currently supports this feature
BIOS Chip in Socket : BIOS doesn't support this feature
Supports Selective Booting : BIOS currently supports this feature
Supports LS-120 Booting : BIOS doesn't support this feature
Supports ZIP Booting : BIOS doesn't support this feature
Supports Network Booting : BIOS currently supports this feature
BIOS Manufacturer : American Megatrends licensed to Intel
BIOS ID : 51-2300-000000-00101111-030199-
BIOS Date : 09/19/01
BIOS OEM Signon :
BIOS ROM Size : 512K
Chipset : Intel Solano 815/EM rev 2
Super I/O Chip : Known super I/O chip is not found
It does show USB as an option for boot order.
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  #13  
Old 15th December 2006, 03:52 PM
bruno.taglienti Online
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The answer is yes, but from your BIOS CAPABILITIES TEST REPORT I do not see the USB boot
capability.
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  #14  
Old 16th December 2006, 12:23 AM
Dies Offline
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Posts: 4,754
How to install & run Fedora Core 5 Linux from USB HDD, with no USB Boot BIOS support

http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showth...&highlight=USB

You'll have to modify certain commands but the theory is the same.
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  #15  
Old 17th December 2006, 03:41 PM
Bahamut Offline
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Can I do this without touching sda1? sda1 is an NTFS partition that I have been using for portable apps and storage, and with just about 76 billion bytes of data, backing up that information would take a very long time (I only have USB1.1 ports ).

sda1 - storage/portable apps (NTFS)
sda2 - FC6 (ext3)
sda3 - swap partition (linux-swap)
sda4 - boot test partition (FAT)

anaconda never gave me the option to install a bootloader to anything but /dev/hda/. It was either to /dev/hda/ or not at all. This is likely because I didn't start with linux expert.
So I have a few questions:
Do I have to use sda1 for FC6?
Do I have to go through the entire install process again?
Does it matter if the bootloader is installed on a different partition than the one that FC6 is on?
If so, can I install it to sda2?
Is there any way way at all to use a floppy or another partition instead of a CD to successfully boot FC6 for the first time?
Is there any way way at all to use a floppy or another partition instead of a CD to successfully boot FC6 thereafter?

Last edited by Bahamut; 17th December 2006 at 04:37 PM.
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