[syslinux] Where's the formal syntax?

Ady Ady ady-sf at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 22 16:16:03 PDT 2017

> I've been using linux:TC from a USBstik in order to not break the M$ capability,
> as previously always happened. Since TC runs in RAM, it has many extra
> problems; like reinstalling all the apps and your private settings at each boot.
> The sample isolinux.cfg which I've been emailed by the oficianado
> is very unfamiliar and worrying.    Where is the official syntax ?
> --
> Without knowing if/how the sample gets mangled in email, he sent:--
>    LABEL Corepure64
>    MENU LABEL Corepure64
>    Boot Corepure64
>    onbootpure64.lst
>    KERNEL /tce/boot/vmlinuz64
>    APPEND initrd=/boot/rootfs64.gz,/boot/modules64.gz loglevel=3 waitusb=5:LABEL
> ="USB16G" noswap
>    tce=LABEL="USB16G"/corepure64/tce opt=LABEL="USB16G" home=LABEL="USB16G"
> ---
> Are these parameters part of syslinux syntax, or just extras which
> are handled by <initrd> :
>   noswap, waitusb=5,
>   loglevel=3,
>   tce=LABEL="USB16G"/corepure64/tce
> ??
> The comma after the "APPEND initrd.." entry seems very <irregular>.
> Previously I though the "waitusb=5" was a general wait and not
> particularly associated with a specific device.   My *.cfg looks like:--
> LABEL tcPREmultivt
> MENU LABEL Boot TinyCorePure64-PREmultivt
> Boot TinyCorePure64 with Embedded X/GUI extensions.
> Boot media is removable. Use TAB to edit options for specific needs.
> KERNEL /boot/vmlinuz64
> INITRD /boot/corepure64.gz
> APPEND loglevel=3 cde vga=788 multivt
> <><><>   Are there any obvious errors there?
> Where is the proper formal syntax listed?
> A previous mail sounds interesting/applicable:
> >.....
> > If the _firmware_ is UEFI x64, then use the adequate syslinux.efi file,
> > plus ldlinux.e64. With that bootloader, you should be able to load a
> > (CONFIG_EFI_MIXED-enabled) Linux kernel for x86 (IA32) or for x86_64
> > (X64).
> > If the _firmware_ is UEFI x64, then the syslinux.efi file for x86
> > (IA32) won't boot in such system (and it is not needed, nor intended
> >  for such platform).
> > BTW, it is possible to use a mix of SYSLINUX (for BIOS) and
> > syslinux.efi in the same (USB) device, especially with 6.04-pre1 (or
> > newer), which automatically supports 'syslx64.cfg' and 'syslia32.cfg'.
> .........
> Isn't this the recommended way to go?
> BTW. this TC isolinux USBstik booter CAN boot a different
> [Debian7] USBstik when I edit an appropriate *.cfg entry.
> But I don't think the Laptop's firmware showed the
> USB-to-IDE\SATA disks. It's all very complex, and disruptive
> to reboot just to test/answer that!
> == Thanks for any advise.
I would recommend for you to read the whole TinyCore FAQ. It includes 
several items that would probably help you improve your current 
experience with TC.

Regarding the boot options supported by the TC kernel+initrd(s), the TC 
FAQ includes the following item:


(and, as I suggested above, reading the whole FAQ is probably 

The TC wiki, although somewhat outdated, might have additional 
interesting information for you:


As for the generic configuration syntax for Syslinux:


and for Syslinux's Simple Menu System there are additional directives:


There is also a _very_ outdated (and probably inaccurate) "HowTos" wiki 
page, which I would _not_ recommend - actually I would suggest avoiding 
most of it at this time, except perhaps for one particular section that 
might be helpful as an initial generic non-exhaustive index of internal 
links for newcomers:


As for booting other USB sticks, instead of chaining from one to the 
other, it might be simpler to just install a bootloader on each USB 
device and have all the relevant files related to one OS in the boot 
partition of each individual USB device. This is _not_ to be considered 
as a recommendation, just as a generic possibility; whatever works best 
for you is OK.


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