[syslinux] syslinux vs grub

H. Peter Anvin hpa at zytor.com
Sat Jan 8 23:48:40 PST 2005

Peter Skogström wrote:
> If thats what it takes too be mean and lean instead of bloated as grub, 
> then so be it.  Maybe its possible to support multiple filesystems at 
> the same time but at the price of complexity and bloat. Im not sure but 
> isnt the syslinux way to have a framework ( a common ground) and ontop 
> of that have different functions ? As pxelinux and isolinux (what I 
> mostly uses).
> Then booting different filesystems would just expand this family. We 
> would have XFSlinux  and more. If a module approach is possible, just as 
> Pat suggested it would be great. But as long as adding different 
> filesystems can be done without changing the core syslinux/boot code 
> into special cases it shouldnt be a maintenace problem.
> And  as long as the namesystem on this expanding family is consistent. 
> To keep errors from misunderstandings low, that shouldnt be an problem 
> either.
> Most people only have one filesystem on their machines. Of course some 
> also need chainloading NTFS, (I havent tested extlinux yet so I dont 
> know if it can be done) but if thats not possible then One can use grub. 
> I really think its worth exploring this road (but in this case Im just a 
> user so its easy for me to say..). You given us sys pxe iso, just keep 
> em coming :-)
> I have followed your late hard working nights here lately, so I can 
> understand your doubts.
> But syslinux today is a remarkebly piece of software  and so far it have 
> stand the tests of time.

I perhaps should have clarified what I meant with all of this.

The SYSLINUX assumes that it (SYSLINUX) only needs to access one 
filesystem, in the sense of one partition, one network, or one device. 
However, it can chainload other partitions/devices, using chain.c32 for 
harddisks or floppies, Etherboot/NILO for PXE, or SBM(?) for CD-ROMs.

However, what it can't do is access files off those filesystems without 
chainloading them.

As far as XFS and Reiser as concerned, I don't really expect it to be 
very hard to support them; a lot of the EXTLINUX work was factoring the 
floppy/harddisk code out of SYSLINUX so that it can be shared.  That 
really leaves two top-level functions which have to be implemented, 
called searchdir and getfssec, and in a future version a readdir 
function too.  Before I do the latter, though, I want to extend tftp-hpa 
to give it a way to get a directory listing over TFTP.


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