[syslinux] Important feature missing: Floppy booting from 2 disks

Dr. Michael Weller eowmob at exp-math.uni-essen.de
Mon Oct 13 09:16:11 PDT 2003

Hi list,

I've used sys & pxelinux now many times, it's really a useful toy. I found
esp. syslinux very helpful as it allows to COMPLETELY boot from multiple
disks. However, I could never use a 'vanilla' syslinux for that. I'm
doomed to use Distributor patched versions, which I don't really like. Why
is that? Read on:

Well, I can't manage to boot of a 1.44 MB floppy. I simple don't manage to
squeeze a useful modern kernel & initrd on that. Don't tell me I'm the
only person with that problem. Yes, I know: CD or PXE boot is much better,
but there are situations where you need a floppy. A very useful
application for example are the RemoteInsightBoards of Compaq/now HP
servers. They allow to upload diskimages you can boot remotely w/o any
direct access to the system BUT it uses a BIOS emulation.  Hence, a two
disk syslinux boot combo (one disk kernel, one initrd) is perfect. Normal
loading of initrd doesn't work as the linux kernel always goes to the
floppy hardware directly. This way a plain kernel disk (just dd the kernel
onto it) has no chance to work, for example.

Distros, esp. Suse, use a patched syslinux, which prompts and allows a
diskchange for a 2nd disk before loading initrd images.

What I desperately need is a config-file option (or some automatic
mechanism if initrd image is not found on the disk) to show a prompt and
wait for a key PRIOR to loading the initrd image. This way I could use
plain syslinux and don't need to use 'hacked' Distros bootdisks with
plenty of other unwished effects builtin.

Ideally prompting and the message should be configurable, maybe even on a
by image basis, but that's only cosmetical. BUT: There should be a way to
stop and wait for a key AFTER loading the kernel but BEFORE loading the

I'm under the impression you can't do that with the 'official' syslinux.
If I'm wrong, please flame ahead. I can't really understand why this
option is missing, this seems such a fundamental issue to me.
[Note: with the new syslinux compilable under linux, I might be able to
help myself, when I'm going to setup my next install images]

Best Regards,


Michael Weller: eowmob at exp-math.uni-essen.de, eowmob at ms.exp-math.uni-essen.de,
or even mat42b at spi.power.uni-essen.de. If you encounter an eowmob account on
any machine in the net, it's very likely it's me.

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