[syslinux] 10 year old question

Jane Todoroski jane.todoroski at gmail.com
Wed May 13 13:24:15 PDT 2020


Sorry to butt in like this, but (for once) I starter reading a syslinux
related "thread" and I thought I might help.

I've been working on a AIO boot USB and looking into various lightweight
live Linux distros. Of course, Puppy was at the top of the list, but
lately... it's become kinda bloated and with too much make up... at least
for my taste. So, I started looking for alternatives and I ran into a
Puppy/Slitaz "mix" (fork): TazPuppy.


It's still in beta, but I believe it might be just what the OP is looking
for. It's small, lightweight, has a variety of tools and it's being
regularly updated by the author (even though it's still in beta).

I would recommend the Beta 46 version since after Beta 46, the author
changed some of the drivers to support newer hardware and, well... that
messed up booting to X on old hardware :-\. I've been meaning to write in
the thread on the Puppy Linux forum about this problem, just never got to

Here's a link to the ISO for the Beta 46.


I believe the author uses an older syslinux version for the ISO, can't
remember which one though.

I've also made a repack of the ISO because of the protected vs. real mode
problem regarding distros using SquashFS as a deployment method. The repack
contains all of the sqfs files into the initrd, so the init doesn't have to
look for the required files further than it's own back yard :). Here's a
link to my repack.


My repack is built with the latest stable syslinux release, 6.03. See if it
boots as it should from a CD/DVD. If it does, you could try installing the
bootloader to the internal drive, copy the required files and make your own
cfg file to boot to TazPuppy. You could take the cfg file from the ISO as
an example of how a custom made cfg for syslinux should look like. Don't
forget the kernel boot parameters, most of them are required in order for
TazPuppy to boot properly on (almost) all hardware.


Jane Todoroski

On Wed, May 13, 2020 at 7:26 PM Ady via Syslinux <syslinux at syslinux.org>

> > Syslinux is used to boot many distributions of linux however on this
> hardware
> > the most recent version of syslinux that I have seen work is version
> 3.82 or
> > version 3.83. If I try a distribution on v4 or newer of syslinux I see
> the boot
> > hang on the first line indicating what version of syslinux is being
> used.
> Are you saying that official Syslinux 3.86 (the last in the 3.xx) fails to
> boot
> this system while 3.82 succeeds?
> How _exactly_ do you install the bootloader to the destination media?
> Which
> _exact_ version of v4.xx have you tried? Is it from some package or from
> built-in binaries from upstream Syslinux?
> > webdt.org has been read only for years now and mostly due to the fact
> that
> > owners of the hardware are limited to old versions of puppy linux, the
> last to
> > support the aging hardware in the world. This is largely due to the fact
> that
> > syslinux has updated to the point of no longer supporting the hardware.
> > Grub-0.97 is also the last version of grub that supports the hardware so
> this is
> > not singular.
> >
> > The irony of the packaging timelines with regard to this hardware are
> humorous.
> > At the point in time that linux console tools, and namely inputattach,
> started
> > to support this hardware (penmount serial touchscreen being able to
> attach to
> > evdev) was about one version behind the point that syslinux started to
> not
> > support the hardware. Accidental I am sure however it is very hard to
> make a
> > version fo linux to support this hardware due to these timelines.
> You could install whichever version of SYSLINUX as bootloader,
> independently of
> which Linux OS you are booting. IOW, you don't really have to use the
> package
> from the OS you are installing. Some binaries of some upstream versions
> might
> fail under some circumstances (e.g. some library / dependency
> incompatibility
> or so), but, generally speaking, it is worth trying them.
> > My questions are:
> >
> > Was this by design? I well understand dropping legacy to advance code
> but with
> > so many of these in the wild.....   ebay dt research or webdt. I see
> over a
> > thousand of them today in lot quantities.
> Is it possible that the only real problem here is that you need to specify
> a
> number of sectors and/or a number of heads when executing the SYSLINUX
> installer, for the resulting code to be able to boot this hardware in this
> Have you tried using the "-s" slow, stupid, safe option of the SYSLINUX
> installer?
> In the Syslinux wiki, I would suggest searching for the "Install" wiki
> page.
> > Is there anything I can do to get more modern versions of syslinux to
> boot on
> > the hardware in question?  IE workarounds or modifications to boot lines
> being
> > used?
> Read my prior questions / hints/ suggestions.
> > We are supported by linux kernel up to version 5 on the hardware. It
> would be
> > nice if other areas of linux followed suit. I have leaned on distribution
> > maintainers to possibly make an iso with older syslinux on it so that
> owners of
> > the hardware would be supported however many indicate they would not be
> sure
> > they could support it.
> I'm confused; please clarify. Are you looking for an ISO image, or for a
> way to
> install SYSLINUX (whichever version you would need) as bootloader to/of
> the
> storage media?
> If you are looking for an ISO image, do you mean that you need for it to
> use
> SYSLINUX as bootloader (either as floppy emulation or as HDD emulation),
> instead of using ISOLINUX (no emulation)?
> Since, of course :), you already tried with Slitaz (and Puppy), I am
> wondering
> whether the problem is in Slitaz itself, or rather in the bootloader
> package.
> The Syslinux-related tools in Slitaz are great (and in fact, I wish they
> were
> in upstream too), but it is worth noting that they are made in-house, and
> thus,
> upstream Syslinux binaries might behave differently (i.e. the results
> might
> vary).
> FWIW, older Puppy variants used to use SYSLINUX 3.xx for a very long time.
> You
> might be able to use a SYSLINUX installer from one of those older versions
> in
> order to install SYSLINUX 3.xx, just to be able to boot with it, and from
> it
> you should be able to start a newer Linux kernel by editing syslinux.cfg.
> Regards,
> Ady.
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