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Tool to see if superfloppy or harddisk USB?


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#1 kcom

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 08:05 PM

Windows sees it as normal USB in any case.

Is there a graphical tool for windows to see if an USB disk is formated as superfloppy or harddisk? Or to reformat it as superfloppy?

At the moment I use Hp Drive Key but it seams to format it as harddisk.

#2 was_jaclaz

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 08:32 AM

The device firmware has a bit that "tells" whether the device is "Fixed" or "Removable".

ALL USB hard disks have this bit set as "Fixed".

MOST USB flash devices have this bit set as "Removable", this bit can be "flipped" to "Fixed" through an utility from the controller chip manufacturer (which very few manufacturers provide).

By default windows 2K/XP/2003 consider "Removable" devices as "super-floppy", but if, through an external utility, like the mentioned HP one, a MBR is written to the device, it will be seen as a partitioned disk (read hard disk) with the limitation that one, and only one, partition will be accesible.

It is possible to install a "filter driver" that makes 2K/XP see the device as "Fixed" and thus allow for accessing all the partitions on it.

In other words a USB flash can be seen in THREE ways:
1) unpartitioned Removable (superfloppy)
2) partitioned Removable (HD with one partition accessible)
3) partitioned Fixed (HD)

As shipped, USB flash devices are 99% of times formatted as 1) above, and if you just use the internal Format command or GUI, they wull remain that way.

Utilities like the HP USB one and petousb write to the first sector of the stick a MBR, thus making the device become through a Format (included within the utility or the normal windows one), formatted as 2) above.

Manufacturer utilities can make the device become permanently formatted as 3) above on any PC, whilst installing the Hitachi Microdrive Filter cfadisk.sys or Anton Bassov's dummydisk.sys allows this only on the single machine where the filter is installed.

If needed there is a "reversed" dummydisk.sys filter driver to make a "fixed" device be seen as "removable".

I don't think there is a graphical utility aimed to show which is which, but with command line or indirectly it is very easy:
in case 1) above the first sector of the device has bootsector code
in cases 2) and 3) the first sector has MBR code

Accessing the device with a hex/disk editor one can visually check whhat is in first sector, or accessing it with a partition table editor like neenlenrox or ptedit32 you would see "crazy" values in partition table (if it is actually a bootsector).

To re-format a stick that has been formatted with the HP utility (but still has the "Removable" bit) simply fill first sector of the device with 00's and use the Format command.

Be aware that most motherboards, even those that allow for booting from the maun three device types (superfloppy, zip, HD) actually have problems with the first two types and that a large number of motherboards only boot from USB "HD".

If you need more detailed instructions, just ask.

jaclaz

#3 kcom

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 12:41 PM

A great. Thanks for big explanation.

I know how to bring a device in the mode so the BIOS will recognize it as USB harddisk, boot it and the device becomes C:\ (FreeDOS). That`s easy with the HP Drive Key.

The windows standard format gui does allow to format that USB flash device, but not to create a MS-DOS-Startupdisk.

My failure was not to tell you already in first post that I want to convert one of my USB flash drives into a bootable superfloppy. (My BIOS allows to boot either USB HDD or USB FDD.) This bootable superfloppy should have a FreeDOS or a GRUB4DOS bootsector. I hope this USB flash device becomes then A:\ and (fd0) in FreeDOS, so my normal internal hd will stay C:\ and (hd0).

How realistic is this? Or becomes an USB flash drive which has been booted from BIOS always C:\ and (hd0), no matter if it`s formated as superfloppy (only bootsector) or harddisk (full mbr)?

#4 was_jaclaz

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 01:57 PM

The problem is that there is no way (without directly testing) to know how your particular motherboard assigns drive letters to a superfloppy device (if it can actually boot from it).

Do the following:
1) Use a hex/disk editor to write 00's to the first sector of the stick
(or create a 512 byte file filled with 00's and use either dsfo/dsfi or Dimio's HDhacker or
2) Extract and reinsert the stick
3) try opening it in Explorer, it should prompt you to format
4) choose to format it either as FAT16 (RECOMMENDED) or FAT32 (NOT recommended)
5) copy to the stick:
NTLDR
NTDETECT.COM
BOOT.INI (the one in your C:\ partition will do)
grldr (from grub4dos package)
6) Edit BOOT.INI with Notepad, adding a line:
C:\grldr="Grub4dos"

Try booting from the stick, can you access the BOOT.INI choices?
Can you choose the "grub4dos" entry and see grub4dos loading?

jaclaz

#5 kcom

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 03:51 PM

As I did read your posting the first couple of times I thought you forgot to say how to write this magical bootesctor. Always I wanted this bootsectors just to see as a normal file in explorer so I can backup and exchange it easy without any hacker tools. But you did not forgot it. Somehow on nt-based systems it seams the bootloader is NTLDR and Windows explorer will put it at the right place automatically. Just copy a file to disk doesn`t work for anything beside this bootloader (afaik), like for grub you need some extra tool to write this magical bootsector. But nvm.

Similar like you Bart is explaining how to create a NT boot floppy disk.
http://www.nu2.nu/bootdisk/ntboot/
I tested yours and his instructions on a virtual floppy disk and booted from it in VMware, it worked. Just to make sure I did not mess up anything.

Then I made the things you told me to make the USB flash drive bootable. The bootsector on the USB flash drive looked very similar compared to the one on the floppy. With Plop Bootmanager I did try to boot the USB in VMware, it found the USB device, loaded the bootsector and then the error "Remove disk Restart Press Key".

After that I wanted to test my real BIOS. Tested to boot USB-FDD and USB-HD. Nothing worked, each time error message from BIOS no operating system found.

So... I think my little survey on booting superfloppy is over. Don`t think I made a failure but my BIOS doesn`t support it.

All this booting stuff is pretty messed up. But that`s sure not your fault. However, I did learn lots of new things and hope at some day some BIOS extender or the EFI will deliverance us from all those glitches.

#6 kcom

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 05:43 PM

Small remark. Maybe this will interest someone.

This: http://img152.images...03193910aa0.jpg is the normal HP Drive Key, many will know. It`s often linked and you find it on google with HP Drive Key. Gui style.

This: http://img152.images...03193801xx6.jpg
http://img136.images...03193820fp9.jpg
http://img383.images...03193835qc3.jpg
http://img383.images...03193843ym0.jpg
http://img136.images...03193851ks9.jpg
http://img383.images...03193859vp2.jpg
is the HP Flash Drive Boot Utility. It`s on my harddisk. It`s more wizzard style.

HP Flash Drive Boot Utility offers to create bootable flash drive in floppy mode. But doesn`t work for me. Maybe it`s still working for someone else. I can`t find it on google anymore and this hp.com site is not that clear.

When I search for USB boot tools I find always only this HP tool.

#7 was_jaclaz

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 08:43 PM

So... I think my little survey on booting superfloppy is over. Don`t think I made a failure but my BIOS doesn`t support it.


So you are giving up? :lol:

Too bad :thumbup:, just when I was going to introduce you to makebootfat and it's triple way MBR/bootsector....:thumbup:

http://www.boot-land.../?showtopic=761

:thumbup:

jaclaz

#8 kcom

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:10 PM

So you are giving up? :lol:

Oh. Did not know there are still other ways to deal with it.


Too bad :thumbup:, just when I was going to introduce you to makebootfat and it's triple way MBR/bootsector....:thumbup:
http://www.boot-land.../?showtopic=761

Very interesting! Sure I will try this soon. :thumbup:

#9 Holmes.Sherlock

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 06:47 AM

The device firmware has a bit that "tells" whether the device is "Fixed" or "Removable".

ALL USB hard disks have this bit set as "Fixed".

MOST USB flash devices have this bit set as "Removable", this bit can be "flipped" to "Fixed" through an utility from the controller chip manufacturer (which very few manufacturers provide).


Does anybody know such a tool for Transcend Jetflash UFDs?

#10 steve6375

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 08:55 AM

to OP

If your question is:

'How do I make a USB drive boot as either a floppy or a hard disk to MSDOS or FreeDOS?' - then the answer is easy

see the bottom of this page for examples

http://sites.google....orials/grub4dos

I have no doubt that the menu items could be better re-written to use || so that if one mapping failed another would automatically be used, but the technique works for me :D

#11 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 09:17 AM

OP had this problem in 2008.

I hope that whatever happened to it already happened.

Holmes.Sherlock senseless revived this thread, hijacking it instead of starting his own new one.

"Transcend Jetflash" means NOTHING.

Use appropriate tools:
http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=4661

Search for an app:
http://flashboot.ru/...php?name=iflash

:D
Wonko




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