I have an old PC from 2002 (Kobian KT266a FDSX + Athlon XP 1.8 Ghz) it has no hard disk but I made a 16 GB USB stick with Arch Linux to use it somehow. The only problem is that my old motherboard doesn't want to boot from the USB stick. Theoretically it has the ability to boot from a wide range of USB devices, the options are available in the BIOS menus. Latest BIOS (2.2a) was installed years ago.
I tried several USB sticks (128 MB, 512 MB, 16 GB) with several boot managers/loaders (GRUB, Syslinux, Plop, PlopKExec, Smart Boot Manager) and I realized that the 128 MB USB stick works but only with Smart Boot Manager and only when the extended INT 13H BIOS functions are disabled in the Smart Boot Manager. Unfortunatley the loading of any operating system is still buggy, even DOS / Win 98 boot disk can not be loaded / booted. With the help of PlopKExec I managed to achieve that the computer boots from a CD and then the boot sequence are continued from the USB stick.
Maybe I have to properly prepare the USB stick eg. appropriate file system, FAT16 or FAT32 and partition table, custom MBR code, CHS mode, USB ZIP emulation?
What tool(s) should I use for these purposes if I don't have Windows installed at all? (However I have installed
FreeDos in the Virtualbox)
How can I test the booting quickly? Is there any Freedos/linux distro which can be quickly written to the USB stick to test if it can boot on my old computer?