[syslinux] RE: Strange MEMDISK problem with XP Bootfloppy images

Nazo nazosan at gmail.com
Wed Mar 15 15:42:04 PST 2006

On 3/15/06, Gordon J. Mills III <Gordon.Mills at usa.net> wrote:
> > Guess he wants the text file showing all the other text
> >(better to copy and paste into a message I guess.)  Considering
> > the unusual nature of this issue, I'm guessing you should worry
> >less about information overload, more about insufficient information.
> >
> >Anyway, sorry for asking this, but, can we be sure it's not a hardware
> issue?
> >Unstable CPU or memory or something, or even just troubles reading the
> >data via the network or something?  Sorry, just, my first thought
> >when I hear of an inconsistant issue like this -- especially something
> >before the OS is even loaded -- my first inclination is to check to
> >ensure completely stable operation (remember, as Prime95 warns us,
> >sometimes a system can be completely stable during normal operation
> >but have hardware issues that only show up if you do certain things,
> >and Prime95 does about all of them.)
> Nazo, I sent the info to HPA and he has responded. Unfortunately I replied
> directly instead of to the list (many apologies) accidentally. I have
> since
> resent the replies to the list.
> Anyhow, I doubt it is a hardware issue since it has happened on 2
> different
> machines and also those machines can successfully boot other disk images
> and
> a regular pxe linux boot. As for the network, other machines can
> successfully boot all of the images, etc. Also, they will boot the images
> fine if the images are written to a FD and used to boot the 'normal' way.
> Peter has suggested that it is perhaps a MS thing and that may be the case
> since the machines will boot a freeDOS image fine.
> I was hoping to find some answer since I have been playing with this for
> about a week now and it has gotten under my skin.
> Regards,
> Gordon
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> I understand.  The hardware thing was just me checking, kind of like how
one of my word processing teachers back in high school used to joke that
when someone reported a computer problem her first response was to ask "did
you check to make sure it's plugged in?"  It's easy to forget the
fundamental little things in favor of the big things like the question "is
my PSU broken?" may kind of overshadow one like "is the plug loose in the

That said, what does the XP disk do that FreeDOS won't?  Have you tried
using another MSDOS based disk with the same files (you can probably still
grab an image from bootdisk.com, but, the site isn't what it used to be so
it's getting more useless every day)?  I'm thinking you can toss anything
that won't work in FreeDOS on a different (hopefully more cleanly made)
MSDOS disk and it will likely work where the one you have issues with fails.
 Actually, any floppy image made from Windows 95b (or 98) up should work (or
even DOS 6.22 if you don't need FAT32 or large drive support in fdisk since
the 6.22 version doesn't support that I think.)

My guess is Mr. Anvin is correct.  I'm willing to bet that the generated
floppy probably has issues in it's boot sector or something.  The main thing
is, the fact that it had to retry made me think first of what you might get
if you had an unreliable medium, but, then, you are running via network, so
I discarded the first thought in favor of a more hardware related thing.  If
he is correct, it seems very likely to me that if you could attempt
[SYS/EXT/ISO]Linux with the same memdisk and boot floppy image and, in
theory, it should probably reproduce the issue since it seems like it's
after it switches to memdisk that the problem shows up.  If nothing else,
should it show up only in PXELinux, that sounds like a pretty important
detail to me.

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