[syslinux] ISOLINUX boot problem: request for help

Peter Bartke bartke at mi.fu-berlin.de
Sun Jul 29 15:21:45 PDT 2007

Duke McAllister schrieb am Sun, Jul 29, 2007 at 12:39:01PM -0500:
> Gentlemen:  I have extensive experience using ISOLINUX and all rec 
> versions of Slax (incl Slax-6-RC5) and have never had a single 
> "phantom" problem w/ the pair.  In fact, I just made my 1st RC5 disc 
> on Fri and it worked flawlessly, as expected.

Now finally the person is found who can convince me that this is a
non-problem ;-). You are kindly invited to come here :-) and see that
there exists (maybe exactly) one exception to your extensive experience.

> When things don't work, they're usu attributable to a couple of things:
> 1)  the -boot-info-table option:  the absence of this cmd-line option 
> can cause discs to work fine on one PC and fail in bizarre (ie. different) 
> ways on other PCs.  Personally, I use a commercial GUI program (in Windows) 
> for creating my ISOs, but K3B is available, esp if you remaster on a PC 
> that has more than one optical drive (one to boot with, one to burn with.)  
> Actually, one could use the version of K3B under RC5 to create an ISO or 
> burn directly to disc.  Moreover, the make_iso script provided on the 
> Slax CD definitely works.
> 2)  single-session CDs:  Bec Slax is relatively small and bec I've 
> extended other CD projects using multiple sessions, I "thought" this mite 
> be possible w/ Slax.  No.  One must close (finalize) -boot-info-table 
> discs for them to work reliably on multiple PCs.  Have wasted many CD-Rs 
> in pursuit of this goal and it's simply too unreliable, so I would strongly 
> discourage this practice.  The final straw for me was when I tried a newly 
> burned-remastered RC3 (also open) disc on a client's PC.  Had been working 
> on everything else, but the open RC3 disc failed immed trying to load the 
> kernel and dropped rite back to the 'boot:' prompt.
> 3)  no CD-RWs:  After doing this sort of thing for several years and having 
> noticed a reference to this in one of your replies:  NO CD-RWs !  
> If you need test a remastered live CD project, use QEMU, Virtual Box, or 
> VMWare.  You can also use the 'from=' parameter to load the contents of your 
> custom filesystem (ie. /boot and /slax) from a sub-dir on your hdrive (eg. 
> /mnt/hda1/rc5), then boot using something like 'from=/mnt/hda1/rc5' appended 
> to the ISOLINUX cmd-line.
> I've made literally dozens of bootable CDs/DVDs using ISOLINUX as the sole 
> bootloader, in the past year and most incorporate Slax 5 or 6.  I've even 
> started a discussion forum on the subj called Super-Disc: 
> http://www.msfn.org/board/index.php?showtopic=94398
> In theory, this issue could represent the emergence of a new BIOS 
> incompatibility, but one mite consider these factors first.

1) 2) 3) were always fullfilled. 

> Hope this helps....
Sorry, not really ...

If you had followed the whole discussion, you would know:
- I know that these ISOs work without problems for most people.
- I used unchanged ISOs from www.slax.org: 6.0 RC4/5/6 didn't
  boot, 5.1.8 booted.
- The boot stall appears after stage 1 of running vmlinuz.
- It is reproducible even if I use the CD-RW drive as a boot drive by 
  BIOS boot change. The DVD-ROM drive has booted numerous other 
  (Live or Install) CDs perfectly.
- All systematically changed ISOs were made with the script make_iso.sh
  from the Slax-CD, using the command 
  mkisofs -o "$ISONAME" -v -J -R -D -A "$CDLABEL" -V "$CDLABEL" \
          -no-emul-boot -boot-info-table -boot-load-size 4 \
          -b boot/isolinux/isolinux.bin -c boot/isolinux/isolinux.boot ../.
- I tried various versions of isolinux.bin up to the newest. 

These really time consuming tests led to the conclusion that the 
problem is determined by three conditions: 
 - the (eventually buggy?) hard- and firmware of my P4/ASUS PGGD2 computer
 - patched Kernel from Slax RC4/5/6
 - Boot from CD by syslinux with isolinux.bin
If one or more of these conditions are not met, the CD boots.

Please be assured that I've really no intent to prove something against
ISOLINUX or Slax. I made clear that the Grub test only served as a
test that the problem also depends on ISOLINUX somehow. 

If computers work somehow deterministically, there should be a cause for
the problem. I would really like to find it.


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