[syslinux] New menu frontend to isolinux

Richard Hirst rhirst at linuxcare.com
Wed Apr 17 08:04:39 PDT 2002

Hi Peter,
  I'm doing some work for HP creating various flavours of bootable CDs,
and am using isolinux for i386 and elilo for ia64.  We wanted the same
interface on both systems, with the ability to choose a boot option from
a menu with the cursor keys.  To implement this I enhanced isolinux to
support two new control fields in the message file:

0x01 ^A Mark left- or right-hand end of the prompt field.  Current attributes
        at the left hand end are used to display and parameters entered.

0x02 ^B Mark top left or bottom right of menu area.  Current attributes
        at top left marker are used for inactive menu entries, current
        attributes when bottom right marker is found are used for the
        currently active menu entry.

The basic idea is that you use cursor-up/down to pick the entry
you want from the menu (which scrolls if there are more entries than
are visible at one time), and you enter any extra parameters you want
in the prompt field (which scrolls sideways if you exceed the field
width).  I added a new parameter to the config file so you can specify
the text you want to appear in the menu entry for a given boot option.

As a demo I've created a tiny ISO image that shows how this might be
used on the first Debian install CD, where there is a choice of various
kernels, and rescue options.  The various help screens need reformating
in to the same style as the main screen, but this is sufficient to give
you an idea of what we have in mind.  It wont work with serial consoles,
but that hasn't been an issue for us (yet).

I then enhanced elilo to handle the isolinux message file format, and
i386 and ia64 now boot to the same menu screen.

I've attached the demo ISO, and a patch for syslinux, in the hope that
you might consider adopting this functionality in some future version of

Thanks for your time,

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