[syslinux] EXTLinux freezing up

Nazo nazosan at gmail.com
Wed Feb 15 18:53:53 PST 2006

I just now finally got around to redoing my grandmother's harddrive --
moving everything from a NTFS partition to FAT32 so I could set up
rescue discs, be able to make repairs, and other such things that
would then be able to safely write data to her primary partition.  My
resulting setup was a three partition drive with the first partition
being a ~256MB EXT2 partition for boot files, the second being a large
FAT32 partition for Windows and her data, and the third being a
ReiserFS (I wanted journalized and have more luck with ReiserFS than
with EXT3) where a backup image would be kept -- relying on
compression to hopefully keep it fitting (and so far even gzip is
sufficient to squeeze a backup of the primary partition in there.) 
Ok, I restored my backup, got Windows up and running, booting
sucessfully off of hda2 (the FAT32 partition) then fired up my live
disc and installed extlinux to hda1 (the EXT2 partition,) switched the
active flag so it was on hda1 and not on hda2, then rebooted. 
Unfortunately, after it shows the version number and all, it just
stops.  Completely frozen.  I can CTRL+ALT+DEL, but, I can't do
anything else.  Right now I haven't even gotten around to putting the
live distro image on there or anything, all it's trying to do just now
is chainload the second partition and nothing more, but, even when I
used capslock or the alt key in case it was automatically booting, it
never even gets as far as the boot prompt, it just sits there frozen
with the version line as before.  I haven't yet had time to test all
versions of extlinux since she needed her computer back, but, I have
tested the latest testing version and the latest stable version.  I
have no troubles booting ISOLinux 3.11 from the boot cd I've been
using all this time to configure the system thankfully enough.  I
belive in the past I've used syslinux sucessfully on there, but, atm I
haven't had time to try that out again to see since she needed her
system back (took me far longer than expected to make and restore the
backups because several problems delayed me more than expected during
the process.)

If it could be of any help, I should probably mention the hardware
info.  First of all, its motherboard is an ASUS P4S8X-X, which is an
SiS648/SiS963 based system.  The BIOS was Award Medallion Bios v6.0,
with ASUS's 1003 bios, though I have tried flashing to the latest ASUS
bios (I couldn't get the latest beta 1005 to install, but, 1004, which
still considerably newer installed ok -- not sure what Award version
that would be if it changed at all.)  At this point, I'm kind of out
of ideas as to what else to try other than the troublesome method of
switching from EXT2 to a hidden FAT32 partition (I have to make it
impossible to access from windows -- the idea is to ensure no normal
virus or someone just playing around can mess with the boot
configuration so if all else fails the live distro will still be

Is this just another case of bios issues, or is there something I'm
missing here?  Is there anything else I can try?  I noticed extlinux
doesn't have a "safe" mode like syslinux does, so I kind of wonder
about that.

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