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Converting a FreeDOS Floppy into a Hard Drive image


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#1 sambul61

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 10:34 PM

PURE MAN'S GUIDE TO MAKING A FREEDOS HD IMAGE


Each operating system has it's own tools to partition, format and write the system files, do basic things first, use these basic apps to do them (as opposed to "third party" and "advanced" tools - I seem you mentioned a couple of times Paragon tools, they are EXACTLY what it is NOT recommended, as they may do things that are either un-standard or un-documented.

Should you - by any chance - and just as a one time exception - be willing to actually follow something without introducing all kind of variations, you may try to re-do EXACTLY what is detailed here:
http://jaclaz.altervista.org/Projects/USB/USBstick.html
you should probably be able to learn from the examples some of the basics you are apparently missing.

(and NO, it is not "the best", it has never been updated since 2005, but it worked at the time and it still works today :D)

:D
Wonko

Equipped with some intimate insight of QEMU Virtual PC Emulator, and the right sequence of making an HD image (my many thanks go to Wonko), and following trial and error experience, I'm offering this Tutorial for those dummies who downloaded a bootable FreeDOS or other DOS Floppy image that are plentiful on the web, then seen its usage limitations and wanted to convert it to a FreeDOS HDD image. Some apparent advantages come to mind:

- can make it a bigger size disk, add more programs that must run under DOS
- don't need extra RAM Drive, as the whole HDD image can be placed into RAM at boot
- read / write access to the drive simplified
- can be used as a host for other images, auto mountable with a drive letter at boot
- other drives and images can be mounted the same way you add and mount them after booting to a host ISO or FDD image

To follow this tutorial, besides downloading a FreeDOS FDD floppy image of your choice or generic FreeDOS ISO distro, you'll also need to download GRUB4DOS package and GRUBINST utility, install Virtual Disk Driver ImDisk, and some USB Thumb partition & format utilities like RMPrepUSB if you want to use a Thumb Drive. To migrate a Floppy image into HD image, you'll treat them as virtual drives inside a Virtual Machine like QEMU Manager, and you can also test your results easily in it without rebooting the PC. If you're not familiar with Grub4DOS bootloader, this Grub4DOS Guide may help. If you choose cloning prepared FreeDOS HD image to a USB & HDD drive, use DD for Windows.

PURE MAN'S GUIDE TO MAKING A FREEDOS HD IMAGE



1) Make a FreeDOS HD Image:



- start QEMU, create a new (WinXP) VM and add (create) a raw hard drive image, say DOSHD.raw

- add to the VM, change boot order to and boot your downloaded FreeDOS FDD image

- run FDISK to create an active bootable DOS partition on DOSHD.raw, and write MBR to it

- run FORMAT to format that partition and write DOS boot sector to it

- run SYS to add system files to that partition

- run COPY to add all other files from the FDD to DOSHD

- change dir to DOSHD, open Autoexec.bat and Config.sys, change all disk refs from A: to C:

- change disk refs to C: in all other batch files located on the DOSHD

- exit the VM, change its boot order to DOSHD, run again

- debug all issues transpired from the migration

- exit QEMU.....You're DONE!



2) Add Grub4DOS to your DOSHD image (if you want to boot other images):



- download GRUBINST.exe and place in the same folder with DOSHD.raw

- open Windows Command Prompt, change to that folder

- run GRUBINST DOSHD.raw to add Grub4DOS bootloader to your disk image

- mount DOSHD as a hard drive using ImDisk

- copy from Grub4DOS distro files GRLDR, MENU.LST and GRUB.EXE to DOSHD.raw root directory

- add any ISO and IMA disk images to your DOSHD you may wish to mount or boot from it later

- open Grub4DOS MENU.LST in Notepad and edit its entries, add CommandLine entry at the end

- unmount DOSHD in ImDisk

- run QEMU VM to test how Grub4DOS works with your HD image, debug as required

- exit QEMU.....You're DONE!



3) Clone or copy your DOSHD image onto a bootable USB Thumb Drive:



- prepare (partition and format) a bootable USB Thumb Drive using a Format Tool

- clone a mounted DOSHD.raw onto the Thumb with a cloning tool like dd.exe or Ghost

OR

- install Grub4DOS to the Thumb

- make the Thumb bootable with Grub4DOS

- copy your DOSHD.raw image onto the Thumb

- copy other service ISO and IMA bootable images onto your Thumb

- edit Grub4DOS MENU.LST as required and debug boot sequence in QEMU

- exit QEMU.....You're DONE!



NOTES:



- check your DOS Commands Help for specific command parameters

- if you've a FreeDOS floppy diskette, you can either hook it to QEMU and use directly, or convert it to a FDD image

in QEMU by selecting TOOLS - CREATE DISK IMAGE FROM REMOVABLE MEDIA;

- instead of copying DOSHD.raw image onto the Thumb, you can migrate FreeDOS from FDD via above sequence directly onto it inside QEMU.

That would limit the Thumb's prospective use for other tasks though;

- if you've a generic FreeDOS ISO distro, you can boot it in QEMU and install FreeDOS from it to DOSHD.raw or your Thumb

by selecting the ISO's INSTALL FREE DOS option.

To prepare a bootable USB Thumb, read the jaklaz's post on choosing the right format options based on your usage needs. The above quoted jaclaz's USB Thumb Partitioning & Formatting Guide is a bit obsolete, but still valuable insight into causes of USB Thumb boot problems. The essence remains the same: if you partition and format your Thumb with correct disk geometry, it will boot on any PC. There are many tools mentioned in that Guide, some updated by now, others superseded. You may also want to look at RMPrepUSB as an up-to-date tool to wipe & partition & format your USB Thumb and install Grub4DOS to it, as well as relevant Tutorials on its site. Other similar apps are listed in Index of USB Boot Making Applications, and there're many discussion around Boot Land about preparing a "perfect" Thumb.

Lucky me, at that point I recalled to have a perfectly working USB Thumb with Win and Grub4DOS on it. Surprisingly enough, it was formatted to NTFS by Windows Format tool, with no other manipulations at all. Then Win was directly installed onto it from a CD, and it booted fast and easy every time I wanted to test the Thumb. Its not an ISO image or PE, but a regular install, with no extra drivers required to mount the Thumb - just stock USB Mass Storage Device. But, I guess, the source Win CD wasn't exactly standard :D

So I end-up just dropping my newly created DOSHD image to a folder with other service ISO and IMA disk images on that Thumb, and added its section to Grub4DOS Boot Menu. DONE!

If you followed this Pure Man's Guide, pls share your experience what you end-up with. Its interesting to learn, what methods did you use or can suggest to convert a DOS FDD into HD, and what current tools you've used to format and prepare your freshly painted nice looking Thumb to make it bootable... :)

#2 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 10:40 AM

- Copy your DOSHD.raw image onto the Thumb

HOW? :D
If the below is "copy" the above is "dd" of the \\.\PhysicalDrive.

- Copy other service ISO and IMA bootable images onto your Thumb


@sambul61
You still miss some insight in partitioning/booting matters.
Point is that there is NO actual standard.
Over the years a "wanna-be-standard" has been formed by direct observation, but NOTHING is "definitive".
BTW the demented MS guys, managed to break even their own "standard":
http://www.boot-land...?...ic=9897&hl=

If you want to read some horror stories, here are a couple nice ones (actually related to boot sectors and NOT to partitions):
http://homepage.ntlw...name-field.html
http://homepages.tes...fat-widths.html

And of course some of the reasons why they completely failed in making Logical Volumes inside Extended bootable:
http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/
http://www.goodells....boot/ptedit.htm

And why they check for UNneeded data:
http://www.boot-land...?...=8528&st=21

:)
Wonko

#3 sambul61

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 12:54 PM

Hi Wonko!

I may be missing a lot of things, but the subject of this Tutorial is quite narrow in scope, yet its clear from the thread Title. :cheers:

It is assumed that "preparing" a USB Thumb drive will include partitioning and formatting it. After that mounting the drive with a drive letter in Win Explorer and copying image files to that drive should not constitute a problem. In my case I just formatted a brand new Thumb with Windows Format tool. That was it. Then WinXP was installed directly to it as usual from a CD (now the same non-truncated Win "release" installs directly from an ISO image). And I had no issues with copying other image files to the Thumb as well. And it booted without problems, while of course some "generalization" was required to boot it on another hardware.

But in a typical scenario of using a non-modded OS extra steps may be needed to "prepare" a USB Thumb Drive. They are well and far beyong the scope of this Tutorial.

Yet many ppl would definitely appreciate if someone knowlegable will write an up-to-date Tutorial or Review on this separate subject: "Preparing a USB Thumb Drive to make it bootable with any OS on any PC". The above jaclaz's Tutorial IMHO doesn't fit the bill by now for many obvious reasons. Despite its author definitely knows a lot about the subject.

Edited by sambul61, 02 December 2010 - 06:20 PM.


#4 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 01:46 PM

I'll try again. :cheers:

If you take a brand new stick and "format" it under Windows you won't have a "HD-like", but rather a "super-floppy".

This is because 99.99% of USB sticks come from factory NOT partitioned but rather formatted as super-floppy, i.e. without a MBR.

And that is the reason why traditionally the "HP tool" was used and later a number of alternative and better ways/apps were developed/devised:
http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=9460

:cheers:
Wonko

#5 sambul61

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 02:47 PM

OK, I get it. Nonetheless, as soon as the DOSHD.raw image is booted from the Thumb, it becomes irrelevant whether the Thumb was formatted as HD or Superfloppy. Important (for the tasks of using DOSHD) thing is, the DOSHD is (hopefully) formatted as HD. Of course your PC BIOS in this scenario is expected to support booting from a USB Thumb drive (i.e. a USB Legacy Superfloppy :music_guitar: ).

But if FreeDOS is directly migrated to the Thumb instead of its HD image copyied to it, the method of "preparing" the Thumb becomes relevant, as it needs to be recognized as hard drive by BIOS if you want it to work as HD and boot on most systems, including those which don't support USB Legacy boot.

Btw, what are the differences in using a Thumb Superfloppy once booted as opposed to a USB HD? Any other problems than BIOS support requirement for booting a USB Legacy drive? Mine works with USB 2.0 speed anyway. Any extra drivers are needed to support booting a USB Thumb as HD? See the need for an up-to-date Overview now? Can YOU write one? :cheers:

Edited by sambul61, 12 November 2011 - 02:31 PM.


#6 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 03:02 PM

OK, I get it. Nonetheless, as soon as the DOSHD.raw image is booted from the Thumb, it becomes irrelevant whether the Thumb was formatted as HD or Superfloppy. Important (for the tasks of using DOSHD) thing is, the DOSHD is (hopefully) formatted as HD. Of course your PC BIOS in this scenario is expected to support booting from a USB drive.

But if FreeDOS is directly migrated to the Thumb instead of its HD image copyied to it, the method of "preparing" the Thumb becomes relevant, as it needs to be recognized as hard drive by BIOS if you want it to work as HD.


Yep :cheers:, the point is that a number of BIOSes won't boot from a non HD-like USB stick.
Or, if you prefer, the wide experience is that most BIOS will boot from a HD-like device but only a few from a super-floppy one.
Recent machines are more likely to boot from both "types", though size limits may apply.
Some "strange" machines work the opposite, i.e. can boot off super-floppy but not from HD-like.

Some links given in this thread:
http://www.boot-land...?...c=13158&hl=

BTW, a "real" Windows 2K/XP/2003 won't be able to boot from a "super-floppy" device, as they use "Disk Signature" in the booting process, cannot say about Vista :cheers:/2008/7.

:cheers:
Wonko

#7 sambul61

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 03:59 PM

Well, I guess if Win agreed to be installed to a superfloppy formatted USB Thumb from an ISO image, it doesn't care any more about small things like a drive sig. Get mad probably. :cheers: But I don't use such staff anyway, just test a bit and destroy (with the Thumb) - works better than wipe with encryption.

As mentioned, this jaklaz's post serves as good introduction to USB Thumb formatting & booting problem. It becomes less and less relevant with new PCs coming with new BIOSes. Of course, one can always try to find a BIOS upgrade (the latest BIOS version) for an old PC Mobo as well, and most Mobo makers offer tools for such task. For dummies this site shows an easy way out, hope its universal enough to work on most systems. Look through "Part 1 - Making a bootable USB pen drive".

Edited by sambul61, 03 December 2010 - 02:04 PM.


#8 steve6375

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 05:29 PM

Yet many ppl would definitely appreciate if someone knowlegable will write an up-to-date Tutorial or Review on this separate subject: "Preparing a USB Thumb Drive to make it bootable with any OS on any PC".

Any OS on Any PC? No problem - easy peasy. I will write it now and we can close down this whole Boot-Land 'Boot from USB' forum! :cheers:

Seriously, all PCs have different BIOSes and these all behave in their own peculiar ways. Similarly all OS's have their own booting requirements, some support USB devices better than others!

Grub4dos can be used to boot many different OS's on many different PCs, but not all OS's and not all PCs. If it was that easy we would not need this forum!

#9 sambul61

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 06:14 PM

It sounds like a clarification:

"NO. My RMPrepUSB and the above linked "Making a bootable USB pen drive" webpage will NOT allow you to make a USB Thumb bootable on any PC. Besides, its only DOS and WinPE, I'm talking about over there."

Good enough for me. I don't see the problem the same way however. If one wants to boot from a USB (say having service tools on the Thumb needed right now), an extra floppy can be used with almost any BIOS to do just that. If you don't have a floppy drive, boot that floppy's or Thumb's image to RAM from HD or CD. If there is no CD drive, and HD isn't working, one can try a network boot with almost same probability of success as USB boot without access to BIOS. If one wants to boot a particular OS installed on a USB Thumb, easy to follow "cleanup" technique and extra drivers specific for your new PC (or a preinstalled up-to-date driver pack) - that's all you need. But again, what you can expect from a dummy? :cheers:

Generally speaking, in practice I don't think a USB Thumb to be appropriate media to run any OS unless there is an emergency. It has well defined limitations - very slow write to say the least. And of course, if BIOS password is unknown, it makes it even less suitable, even in emergency.

Wrapping up, may be you can write the Tutorial you mentioned, and I will give a link to it in my next thread for dummies. :cheers:

Edited by sambul61, 03 December 2010 - 12:18 AM.


#10 pengoau

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 01:24 AM

Ok I'm up to section 2...

Stuck at creating the menu.lst for grub4dos.... unsure if this is needed for my particular image...

If I don't have any other iso or image files to include, ie whatever I need is already contained in the doshd.raw file do I need grub4dos in my disk image?

Its hoped that the disk image I've created now will be bootable off a PXE Menu, so will I still need to insert grub4dos even tho no other iso/ima files are needed? If its not clear the disk image i've created in Qemu boots fine etc.

Thanks

Edited by pengoau, 11 November 2011 - 01:39 AM.


#11 sambul61

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 04:31 AM

pengoau

Glad you finally got what you wanted. :)

One doesn't need to add Grub4DOS to the DOS HD image, if not planning to mount or boot any ISO and IMA disk images after booting the DOS HD. :beer:

#12 pengoau

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 05:32 AM

Cheers, well it wasn't smooth sailing from the get go had a bit of a bitch fight trying to locate a boot floppy image with freedos and the utils i wanted (sys/fdisk/format), got there in the end tho. Then qemu manager would not boot for some reason, seems a bit flakey :-/.

thanks again for your guide !

#13 sambul61

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 05:52 AM

When it comes to mastering boot tasks - it's never a smooth sailing from the get go. That's why people are so intrigued by the Boot topic.

You're welcome! :)

#14 steve6375

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 09:08 AM

Cheers, well it wasn't smooth sailing from the get go had a bit of a bitch fight trying to locate a boot floppy image with freedos and the utils i wanted (sys/fdisk/format), got there in the end tho. Then qemu manager would not boot for some reason, seems a bit flakey :-/.

thanks again for your guide !

The idea of this forum is that we share information and ideas. I am glad you got what you want, so how about writing in detail how you did it for other people on a similar quest to follow? :thumbsup:

#15 pengoau

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 09:32 AM

Will do on Monday steve, good point.

If I can post the disk images I will minus any copyrighted material of course.

Thanks again for the help.

:thumbup:

Edited by pengoau, 11 November 2011 - 09:33 AM.


#16 pengoau

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 01:52 AM

Sorry for not posting as promised but I was ill with the flu !

Anyway got there in the end, here is my guide - many thanks to all that have helped me get over the line :)

I've posted my guide here http://reboot.pro/15839/




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