[syslinux] isolinux failing to boot on SCSI system

H. Peter Anvin hpa at zytor.com
Sun Mar 10 17:28:52 PST 2002

Ruud wrote:

> H. Peter,
> I came across the first system where isolinux failed to load:
> =======================================================
> Isolinux 1.63 2001-8-6 Copyright ...
> isolinux:       Starting up, DL = F0
> isolinux:       Loaded spec packet OK, drive = F0
> isolinux:       Sector size appears to be 0800
> isolinux:       Loading main image from LBA, 0003F25D
> isolinux:       Sectors to load = 0004
> isolinux:       Disk error 00, drive F0
> Boot failed: press a key to retry
> =======================================================
> -It's a pentium II system with NO IDE devices, 2 disk and a CD-R are
> attached to an LSIlogic (aka symbios, aka ncr) 53c875 controller.
> -The MoBo is a VT4x6 Abit with Award 6.00 BIOS, the SCSI controller
> (which is doing the booting) has the latest LSIlogic bios 4.19.
> -The controller reports a no-emulation bootable cdrom and
> attempts to boot the cdrom with above result from isolinux.
> -Another CD-rom with 1.44Mb floppy disk emulation boots just fine on
> this system.
> -the isolinux cd-rom boots fine on various other platforms (including IDE
> CDROMs, SCSI systems using adaptec 2940 controller, inside VMWARE, etc..)
> -Since the CDROM doesn't read CD-R/W every new debug attempt requires a
> CD-R which are piling up here :-( so I didn't try the newer syslinux-1.67
> but according the changelog there doesn't appear to be any related bugfix.
> Any ideas ?

Looks like a BIOS bug to me.  It loads the first stage of ISOLINUX 
itself, but then dies trying to read the rest of it.  It doesn't give an 
error code (error 00), it just fails.

Something worth noting is that the LBA of your main image puts it near 
the end of the disk.  You may want to try to see if you can coax your CD 
mastering software into putting the LBA closer to the beginning (lower 
LBA number); some CD-ROM BIOSes have actually been found to have 
problems near the end of the disk.  If you're using mkisofs, use the 
"-sort" option.

Oh yes, don't forget to complain to your hardware vendor or motherboard 


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