[syslinux] Unable to boot my USB flash drive, even with USB-ZIP trick...

Nazo nazosan at gmail.com
Fri Oct 14 13:03:00 PDT 2005

On 10/14/05, Vanessa Conchodon <v.conchodon at smie.com> wrote:
> Hi!
> Nazo wrote:
> > I've been using a USB flash drive for quite a while now, and in my
> > previous system it worked great, but, I find with my new motherboard
> > now that I have upgraded I can't boot it.  So I decided to try the
> > trick mentioned in the README.usbkey file where you make a ZIP drive
> > like image on the flash drive and set the BIOS to boot a USB ZIP drive
> > instead.  Unfortunately, it still doesn't work.  It never even says
> > Booting USB-ZIP or something (when it's booting a CD-ROM, it says
> > "Booting CDROM" while it loads.)  Probably the most curious thing
> > about this situation though, is the fact that the BIOS explicitely
> > SAYS that it has found a USB storage device!  In the information it
> > shows on the top of the screen just after the initial POST testing and
> > just before it starts to actually boot, I see text informing me that
> > it has recognized my USB storage device.  It does not show ANY
> > information on any other USB devices such as my printer, which say to
> > me that it's not simply informing me of all USB devices it sees, but,
> > specifically pointing out that it actually recognizes that particular
> > device for what it is.
> >
> > In case it's related, this is the mkdiskimage command line I used to
> > the best of my memory:
> > mkdiskimage -4 /dev/sda 239 64 32
> >
> > I used 239 cylinders even though I have a 256MB device just in the
> > hopes that maybe it will increase compatibility on some weirder
> > systems out there by some maybe 1%, but, it probably does nothing.
> > Still, I'm strapped for space, but, I can still afford to give up <6MB
> > just in that vague possibility it will be more likely that more
> > systems will accept the drive.  I keep diagnostic tools and such on
> > this flash drive to help me diagnose and fix problems -- which is part
> > of why I need to get it bootable again...
> Have you tried with mkdiskimage -4 /dev/sda 0 64 32?
> Btw, have you enabled the USB keyboard in BIOS?
> With my award bios, usb key won't boot it is not enabled.
> What does it do when you boot on a USB key?
> "no bootable partition found" or another message?
> Have you trouble only with one specific USB key or have
> you tried with another one?
> Regards,
>                 Vanessa.
> --
> Vanessa Conchodon
> 7 rue de la Chapelle
> 93160 Noisy le Grand
> France
> Tel: 01 55 85 90 40, poste 160

-Have you tried with mkdiskimage -4 /dev/sda 0 64 32?
I had not before.  Supposedly the final number has no effect, so I
never tried 32 since I can't really afford to waste any space when
256MiB really isn't quite enough for me as it is.  I did try this
since you thought it might help, but, it didn't seem to make a

-Btw, have you enabled the USB keyboard in BIOS?
-With my award bios, usb key won't boot it is not enabled.
I don't have a USB keyboard option.  I think it's built in, because
I've yet to see a bios that didn't let me use a USB keyboard in even
pure DOS or bootloaders without a problem.  I do have a USB mouse
option, which I have enabled a while back because every now and then I
do use dos and need my mouse (for example, Partition Magic.)  I tried
disabling it, but, it didn't help.

-What does it do when you boot on a USB key?
-"no bootable partition found" or another message?
Heck if I know.  I THINK there MIGHT be a warning message or
something, but, I'm not sure.  Every now and then when I boot up with
the drive plugged in, I think I catch a flash of two, maybe three
lines of text between the bios post information and the second screen
where it shows drive/etc info.  I THINK I caught a few key words like
maybe failure.  The problem is, this flashes on there for probably no
more than one frame, and my monitor is switching at that particular
moment (no, I have no LCD to test on.)  After this, it just shows the
usual bootup process, informs me that it's trying to boot the cd-rom,
then goes to either the cd bootup if I have a bootable disk in or the
harddrive.  USB-ZIP is given first priority in my bios over cdrom and
harddrive, and I even have "boot other" enabled, just in case.  My
only guess is that the bios is smart enough to recognize that this is
not a zip drive, but, too stupid to understand to boot it.  I wish I
could test that, but, I don't even know anyone with a USB zip drive.

-Have you trouble only with one specific USB key or have
-you tried with another one?
Unfortunately, I lack any others to try on.  The fact that it has
always worked for me in the systems I tried it on in the past implies
to me that it isn't the drive itself at fault here though.

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