PURE MAN'S GUIDE TO MAKING A FREEDOS HD IMAGE
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:
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:
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 )
- 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
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...