[syslinux] hello world

Ady ady-sf at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 1 10:27:55 PST 2015

> The wiki I think should at the very first direct you to the correct 
> 'variant' for what media you are installing to (extlinux for me). As it 
> is, on the web all the variants are often referred to generically  as 
> 'syslinux', and it's not till latter that you realize that you must find 
> the correct variant. It would also be nice (tho probably much work), if 
> each variant's page was complete. Jumping back and forth, one can become 
> confused, for example 'syslinux' page says the device should be 
> unmounted whereas 'extlinux' page says (right at the top, which is very 
> nice) that the device should be mounted. And 'syslinux' seems able to 
> install an MBR, but 'extlinux' seems not. (Why?)
Welcome to the Syslinux Mailing List :).

FWIW (this info can be found elsewhere too):

_ "SYSLINUX" refers the bootloader variant;
_ 'syslinux' refers to a command (installer(s) of the bootloader for 
_ "Syslinux" refers to "The Syslinux Project", or to a generic term for 
the user to replace with one/some/any/every/all bootloader variants of 
the Syslinux family;
_ "EXTLINUX" refers the bootloader variant;
_ "extlinux" refers to a command (installer(s) of the bootloader for 
_ Some documentation might not be %100-correctly using the above 
terminology, partly because some of those who write documentation are 
not always aware of it and partly because those writing documentation 
don't always pay attention to these matters. Some documents were never 
updated after this terminology was decided upon.

About the mount/umount difference, it refers to how the *installers* 
are expected to work, i.e. those commands that install the bootloader 
files on the adequate boot area (see 
http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/Install ).

> Speaking of MBRs, I tried over and over and kept getting 'Non-system 
> disk or disk error' when trying to install to a USB stick.  It turns out 
> that a partition  must be flagged bootable on a USB stick even tho (with 
> LILO, anyway) it doesn't matter at all on a HDD.  I understand that's a 
> BIOS gotcha, not  the fault of  LILO or extlinux, however, perhaps there 
> could be a check?  Or maybe it's just my dumb BIOS.
The "active" partition is a part of how a (MBR) partition table 
(usually) works together with the MBR's boot code. There is (enough) 
information about such issues in the official Syslinux wiki and 
elsewhere (Distros' wiki pages, wikipedia, blogs, forums...). The 
Syslinux wiki also includes information about several alternative boot 
code for the MBR.

> More information could be given about 'menu.c32'.  It's not clear where 
> to find it, and when you do find  it there are three copies and it's not 
> obvious which one you want.  Then you try your first boot from extlinux 
> and see the error about 'libutil.c32', so I'd mention that in the the 
> wiki along with 'menu.c32'. And, again, it's not mentioned at all in the 
> 'extlinux' page, so one is hopping back and forth.
The Simple Menu System is not an exclusive part of the EXTLINUX 
bootloader (or exclusive to any one Syslinux variant), so it would not 
be the adequate place for such info. Internal links, wiki categories 
and the "search" feature in the official Syslinux wiki are available, 
together with official documentation published in several formats (the 
latter is not always up-to-date).

See also:

> Vs. LILO:
> 'SAY' is nice.
> Longer labels is excellent.
> I guess not having to reinstall after changing the config is nice, but 
> the reinstall with LILO isn't much of a problem.
> I miss LILOs 'boot =' and 'map =' and 'image =' features. It is nice to 
> be able to have the first stage bootloader on one device and  the map 
> and/or image on another and the root FS on yet another:
> prompt
> verbose = 1
> install = menu
> #boot    = /dev/fd0
> boot    = /dev/sdb
> #boot    = /dev/sdc
> #map     = /boot/lilo.map-fd0-sdb2
> map     = /boot/lilo.map-sdb-sdb3
> #map     = /boot/lilo.map-sdb-sdb2
> image  = /boot/vmlinuz-3.16.0-4-686-pae
> initrd = /boot/initrd.img-3.16.0-4-686-pae
> root   = "LABEL=y5--5-Debian1"
> label  = y5:D1:16.0-4
> ... I can boot anything from anything very easily, and one knows exactly 
> what is going on. And everything is controlled from the one file.  I 
> routinely boot from floppy MBR to another device simply because by 
> changing from one floppy to another I can change my default boot.  And I 
> can have as many map files as needed on the one '/boot' partition. It's 
> indestructable.
> I miss not being able to 'root = "LABEL=' since I do all my booting via 
> labels.
Syslinux configuration is based on LABELs, so there is a slight 
difference when comparing to LILO.

Please keep in mind that as of version 6.03, SYSLINUX can only find 
files (e.g. kernel, initrd...) located in the same volume where the 
bootloader is installed.

In Syslinux there are no "variables" nor "macros" for the configuration 
files. You might find "cmd.c32" useful (search the wiki).

For chainloading (for instance, to another partition) see
 http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/Chain.c32 .

See also http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/Config for all the 
basic directives (these directives are valid even without 
> When installing, I miss error checking (or is it there and I just did it 
> perfect?)
> ... and those are my first impressions ;-)
There are more than 100 pages in the wiki, in addition to the official 
documents included in the official archives (in kernel.org).

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