[syslinux] help booting iso's?

R S rene.shuster at bcsemail.org
Mon Jul 9 04:29:48 PDT 2018

You'll pull your hair out trying to get this going due to either lack of
documentation, and or due to Void Linux maintainers not doing it the 'right
way'. I've been there and found that many, many Linux distros do not boot
properly out-of-the-box using memdisk. I came to the conclusion that if
it's not KISS and/or standardized I'll drop it.

An alternative instead of booting from USB Flash drives (which can be
tricky on very old PCs and also is a pain to maintain and test) is (i)PXE
booting using https://netboot.xyz/ btw. This is where I moved to and I
haven't looked back.

On Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 3:08 PM, James Miller via Syslinux <
syslinux at zytor.com> wrote:

> Hi. I prefer using the syslinux boot loader and recently undertook a
> project of creating a multiboot USB drive that boots using syslinux. The
> aim is to create a medium from which various live linux environments can be
> run for things like system maintenance, installation, and perhaps
> demonstration. I anticipate using this multiboot USB drive on mostly
> legacy, BIOS systems, if that matters.
> As many syslinux users would likely anticipate, some iso image files I've
> tested boot just fine using memdisk. For some other iso's, I found some
> directives on the web that advise loop-mounting the iso's, copying over to
> the multiboot USB certain files and folders, and crafting applicable
> syslinux.cfg stanzas. I've managed get a few more live environments booting
> already via those methods. But, since not all live-environment iso's are
> constructed in the same way, not all are readily susceptible to the same
> sorts of directives. One case in point is the Void Linux iso.
> I'd first like to ask about something that was suggested as a possible
> solution but about which I could find no documentation. I was led to
> believe that it would be possible, using syslinux, to boot an iso image
> located within a partition by somehow specifying its address on disk. I see
> nothing in syslinux documentation, guidelines, or forum postings, that
> suggests that this is really possible. So, am I correct in assuming that
> the individual who suggested that is just plain wrong?
> In order to succeed in booting into the the Void live environment the iso
> provides, what I wound up doing is creating some appropriately-sized
> partitions on my USB drive and dd'ing the iso image to one of them (I
> created an extended partition and included within it 6 logical partitions).
> I'd understood that syslinux would be capable of booting such a partition,
> and there even seem to be official directives on doing that sort of thing.
> But nothing I have tried so far will allow me, using syslinux, to boot the
> iso dd'd to that partition--regardless of whether I specify in the
> syslinux.cfg entry the address of the iso's mbr, or the partition's
> location (e.g., hd0, 5).
> One point of confusion I have is how to specify the drive that syslinux is
> booted from, and thus the one on which the dd'd partition is located: it
> being a USB drive rather than the computer's hard drive, perhaps hd0 is not
> the correct specifier? Can anyone offer clarification on that issue?
> Incidentally, I recently put grub4dos on this USB drive, since I'd
> understood it was more capable when it comes to booting iso's. Since it was
> already present, I decided, using a syslinux menu item that would invoke
> grub4dos, to try booting the partition with it. And, with an appropriate
> menu.lst item, the partition does, in fact, boot this way. The relevant
> entry is:
> title Boot Void 64-bit dd'd to 1st logical partition
> map --heads=0 --sectors-per-track=0 (hd0,4)0+716800 (0xff)
> map --hook
> chainloader (0xff)
> Any assistance in getting such partitions to boot using syslinux will be
> much appreciated. Thanks.
> PS Various syslinux.cfg entries I've tested in my attempts to boot the
> partition straight from the syslinux menu:
> LABEL Void linux 64
> MENU LABEL Void Linux x86_64
> COM32 chain.c32
> APPEND mbr:0x2addfccb
> LABEL Void linux 64
> MENU LABEL Void Linux x86_64
> COM32 chain.c32
> APPEND hd0 5
> LABEL Void linux 64
> MENU LABEL Void Linux x86_64
> COM32 chain.c32 mbr=0x2addfccb
> LABEL Void linux 64
> MENU LABEL Void Linux x86_64
> COM32 chain.c32 hd0, 5
> LABEL Void linux 64
> MENU LABEL Void Linux x86_64
> COM32 chain.c32
> APPEND hd1 5
> # being unsure whether I'd specified correctly the USB drive as hd0
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