[syslinux] isolinux + windows installation CD

Nazo nazosan at gmail.com
Thu May 25 15:56:51 PDT 2006

On 5/25/06, Luke Burton <luke at burton.echidna.id.au> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I am at the end of my wits, after a day and a half of mucking around
> with this :)
> My intention was to take a multi-boot DVD - of the style you get with
> an MSDN subscription - and burn an individual installer to disc.
> How to do this? My theory was to take the files for the installation
> CD, add isolinux, add a bootsector, and away I go. Unfortunately it
> doesn't seem this easy.
> So I took a step back and said: let's take a standard Win XP ISO image
> that we know works. Let's re-image that to use isolinux to bootstrap
> the standard boot sector. So it's just sandwiching isolinux between
> the BIOS and the regular El Torito boot sector from the CD.
> Unfortunately I can't even do that.
> My process is as follows:
> 1. copy the contents of the ISO to a temporary folder.
> 2. make the isolinux folder.
> 3. copy the isolinux-debug.bin file in.
> 4a. use the geteltorito (google finds it) perl script to strip the
> boot image from the original ISO. Place that in the isolinux folder as
> eltorito.bin.
> 4b. take the magical w2ksect.bin file, also found on google, and put
> that in the isolinux folder.
> 5. create an isolinux.cfg file that looks something like:
> label winxp
>         kernel eltorito.bin
> label winkernel
>         kernel w2ksect.bin
> 6. make the iso using this command:
> mkisofs -o ../isotest.iso -b isolinux/isolinux.bin -J -r -N -c
> isolinux/boot.cat -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table  .
> 7. boot the CD and try both winxp and winkernel - and get nowhere.
> I tried many variations on this theme, including using memdisk and the
> bin files as the initial RAM disk.
> The exact symptom I get is isolinux loading, a prompt where I type my
> boot option, then a single "." symbol, then isolinux tries to run
> again and complains about a bad checksum - I assume the bin file
> booted part way and left the memory in a bad state.
> My assumption was that the boot sector I load would do something
> sensible like go looking for setupldr.bin or ntldr or something.
> Instead it just hangs there.
> Also, why can't I make my own boot sector using "dd"? Is it in a
> different place in each ISO image? Or is the El Torito boot sector
> from a Win XP ISO not really something I should be using to do this?
> Help! I'm drowning!
> Regards,
> Luke.
> --
> Luke Burton.
> Yes, questions. Morphology, longevity, incept dates.
> www.hagus.net
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Ok, bootable Windows installation discs are a pain.  Once I finally
got it right, I have been afraid to change ANYTHING on my "Ultimate
Boot DVD" which includes a XP SP2 installation.  First, you must have
the i386 folder in the root of the disc unless you plan to do some
hacking.  Second, I think you have to have the bootsector from the
correct windows installation.  Strangely, I haven't had any luck
ripping my own from my disc, but, I have had plenty of luck getting
them online.

First of all, I'm not sure if the filesystem matters, but, it may.
Back when I was running the installer from a DOS bootdisk (you can
just run winnt.exe from DOS to start the installation, but, that
obviously requires a FATxx filesystem and a bootdisk with a CD-ROM
driver) I found that it was REALLY picky about the CD filesystem.  In
particular, it uses Microsoft's system of using a tilde character to
tell the OS that a filename is the short version of a long one, but,
the ISO filesystem seems to not like that tilde character.  As such,
you have to break a few standards to get it working in DOS.  Now, I
don't know if this applies to the bootable installer or not, but, I've
been afraid to change it since I got it working in DOS.  Anyway, here
is my mkisofs command line I use to generate the ISO:

mkisofs -o ultboot.iso -b isolinux/isolinux-debug.bin -c
isolinux/boot.cat -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table
-pad -relaxed-filenames -iso-level 1 -N -disable-deep-relocation
-exclude exclude -exclude EXCLUDE -exclude ultboot.iso -J -preparer
Nazo -sort ./sort.lst ./

Also, here are the lines I use to start the windows installer via the
isolinux.cfg file:

LABEL winxp
	MENU LABEL ^Windows XP Pro Installation/Recovery (SP2)
	KERNEL /xpboot.bin

I'm not sure if I can give you more details as I got all this working
more than a year ago and have since forgotten some of the absolute
pains I've had to go through to get it rully working, but, if you need
more let me know and I can try to remember more.

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