[syslinux] Problem booting from CF/SD cards and USB Flashdrives using syslinux

H. Peter Anvin hpa at zytor.com
Fri Aug 24 00:16:06 PDT 2007

c.lee111 at gmail.com wrote:
> Well something  is going on that has to do with the geometry of SD/CF 
> cards and USB Flashdrives and I don't think it all has to do with with 
> the BIOS USB ZIP issue either. I'm tending to think Syslinux maybe 
> is  touchy in reguards to what drive geometry (number of cylinders 
> in particular) a usb SD/CF card or USB flashdrive is formatted with.
> Like I said before it's pretty much the only thing that would explain 
> why usb cards and flashdrives  I formatted to be bootable under windows 
> 98 would boot, (and they weren't patitioned using zip drive or floppy 
> geometry) but the same cards and drives wouldn't boot on the same 
> machine using syslinux untill I went and changed the card or drive 
> geometry to either 64 32 or 255 63 using mkdiskimage under linux, which 
> basically changed the number of cylinders from being over 1024 to 
> being under 1024.

SYSLINUX requires that the BIOS is self-consistent, that is, that it
reports the same geometry that it itself expects to use -- except, of
course, unless it is in LBA mode.

There seems, unfortunately, to be some BIOSes which say one thing and do


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