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how to make a big USB HDD bootable?


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#1 mr_

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 02:15 PM

Hi!

introduction:
I have now a 80 GB USB HDD in a USB HDD enclosure. The harddisk was preformated with some ugly guid partition table but I think I got finally ride of it. I am not sure, the is label as 80 GB but Acronis and all tools show only 74 GB. (I don't care about this 6 GB much but I hope this freaking guid partition table is getting lost.)

First I want to make the USB HDD bootable for FreeDOS (and later with grub4dos). But I ran into several problems.

1:
With virtual floppy I mounted a bootable FreeDOS image as A:\. Then with the HP Drive Key I wanted to make the device bootable for a first test. The first thing "The user-supplied DOS system files are not compatible with FAT32.". First question, where to get/make a FAT32 compatible bootable floppy image?

2:
Then I wanted to format the device for test without bootable disk option. FAT does not work because of >2 GB, so I choose FAT32. Next strange error "Failed to format the device."

Is the HP Drive Key for USB pendrives only and not for bigger USB HDD's? What tool I could use to make this USB HDD bootable?

3:
My third try. I plugged to USB HDD into VMware with Ubuntu 8.04. (done that before successfully with USB pendrives) Unmounted the device, started geparted, deleted all partitions, created one big FAT32 partition and set boot flag.

./bootlace.com /dev/sdb
Error: Invalid partition table. Must specify --floppy explicitly for floppy.

conclusion:
It's all pretty strange. With normal USB pendrives this was a lot more easy. I have the feeling that this guid partition table can not be completely removed. Or tools like HP Drive Keys can not handle all big USB HDD's (doubt that).

I hope you have some wise idea... Otherwise I try to use money back guarantee and buy some other disk.

#2 was_jaclaz

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 06:42 PM

You do not need anything of what you did.

The HP USB format utility is NOT needed, and however is not "designed" to work with FreeDOS on FAT32, and if you use it, you will have just a big 80 Gb partition, that of course will be FAT32.

Moreover, as you call it "HP Drive Key", it is designed for USB sticks, rather than hard disks, it may have some limits on big hard disks.

External hard disks are generally seen as "fixed", thus they can be partitioned "normally" with disk management.

Once you have the disk partitioned as you wish, the usual recommendation is of having at least one partition FAT16, size smaller than 1 Gb, for compatibility with DOS 6.22, or, if you do not need it, a smallish FAT32 partition will do for FreeDOS or DOS 7.x/8.0.

All other partitions are better if NTFS, or, if you use Linux, ext2/3 or ReiserFS.

Once you have created the first partition, use the normal FORMAT command, choosing, as above to format it either FAT16 or FAT32.

Then copy to it:
NTLDR
NTDETECT.COM
BOOT.INI, edited to contain an entry like this:

C:\grldr="grub4dos"

grldr (from grub4dos package)
a menu.lst file containing these entries:
title FreeDOS

find --set-root /kernel.sys

chainloader /kernel.sys

add the FreeDOS system files:
KERNEL.SYS
COMMAND.COM
and the FreeDOS SYS.COM utility.

Try booting from the USB, you should get to BOOT.INI choices, choose grub4dos entry, you should get tomenu.lst choices, choose FreeDOS.

You should be able to boot to FreeDOS.

If you really want to install the FreeDOS bootsector, run:
SYS C: C:


There may be some "leftovers" of your previously attempts in the MBR or bootsector, if this is the case, simply write 00's to, say, the first 100 sectors, using either a Disk/hex editor or a "dd-like" program as dsfo/dsfi, part of the DSFOK package:
http://www.boot-land...opic=4015&st=21
before attempting again.

jaclaz

#3 mr_

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 11:50 AM

Wrote this before... But somehow it got lost. Nvm.

I got it now. The problem was this freaking guid partition table, also so called protection partition was not completely gone. On command line with vista's diskpart I could disable it. Finally the harddisk seams now to behave like normal harddisk.

The HP Drive Key is no longer needed, doesn't work with big drives anyway.

grub4dos installation to mbr worked now with same command.

#4 tonyzg

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 08:35 AM

I didn't want to start new post so I hope I can get help bringing life to this one.
I have WD Passport 500GB and I wasn't able to instal grub4dos when it was one big
partition on it. I made first partition NTFS sized around 30GB and another one NTFS
too sized 430GB and than the last one FAT32 sized around 20GB. I installed grub4dos
with RMPrepUSB and I'm now able to boot into first partition. I copied all files from
my bootable USB stick to that partition (menu.lst and all other files including bunch
of isos) and everything is working just like from the USB stick. Now I have some tools
that I need to boot from FAT32 partition (they only work on my FAT32 USB stick).
My question is how to make that 3rd partition bootable too and copy the files from FAT32
bootable stick to that partition.
(I need to be able too choose do I want to boot first NTFS or 3rd FAT32 partition).
I hope you understan my goal. I have 2 bootable USB sticks, one NTFS and one FAT32 and want
to be able too exchange them with one USB HDD (I need such a big HDD because on second NTFS
partition I'm going to put around 250GB of Acronis images wich I use with Acronis backup).
If I can have one NTFS partition instead of too that would be great too (I just still didn't
find a way to do it that way).
Please help me.

#5 Sha0

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 08:56 AM

I have WD Passport 500GB and I wasn't able to instal grub4dos when it was one big
partition on it.

If you have one large NTFS partition formatted by Windows, the partition's boot code will try to load NTLDR. Rename GRUB4DOS' GRLDR and it should boot GRUB4DOS.

I made first partition NTFS sized around 30GB and another one NTFS
too sized 430GB and than the last one FAT32 sized around 20GB.

If you need/want to use FATXX with DOS, consider that such an environment might be more prone to BIOS INT 0x13 limitations... You might consider making your FAT partition the first partition on the disk.

I installed grub4dos
with RMPrepUSB and I'm now able to boot into first partition. I copied all files from
my bootable USB stick to that partition (menu.lst and all other files including bunch
of isos) and everything is working just like from the USB stick. Now I have some tools
that I need to boot from FAT32 partition (they only work on my FAT32 USB stick).
My question is how to make that 3rd partition bootable too and copy the files from FAT32
bootable stick to that partition.

Using DOS with a FAT partition > 460 GB? That might be trouble with some BIOSes. You might need a tool to provide an INT 0x13 capable of accessing sectors > 128 GiB. Or you could put the FAT partition at the beginning of the disk.

#6 tonyzg

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 09:45 AM

If you have one large NTFS partition formatted by Windows, the partition's boot code will try to load NTLDR. Rename GRUB4DOS' GRLDR and it should boot GRUB4DOS.


I have to rename grldr to ntldr or grldr to upercase -> GRLDR?

If you need/want to use FATXX with DOS, consider that such an environment might be more prone to BIOS INT 0x13 limitations... You might consider making your FAT partition the first partition on the disk.


OK, I could do that and than GRUB4DOS will be installed to FAT32 partition and than HDD will boot that partition, but how can I then select to boot the second (NTFS) partition?
My goal is to be able to select to boot into FAT32 or NTFS partition on HDD.

Using DOS with a FAT partition > 460 GB? That might be trouble with some BIOSes. You might need a tool to provide an INT 0x13 capable of accessing sectors > 128 GiB. Or you could put the FAT partition at the beginning of the disk.


I don't plan to make FAT32 partition biger than 30GB, the 400GB partition will be NTFS. Or did you mean something else?

Edited by tonyzg, 20 March 2011 - 09:47 AM.


#7 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 11:03 AM

Please NO. :cheers:

DO NOT rename *anything* to *anything else*.

There is NO *need* for it.

You can do it allright, but before or later you will forget that you renamed (or mislabeled) *something* :cheers: and you will find yourself drinking an urine sample instead of ice tea :blink: ;)

Grub4dos can be loaded allright from NTLDR (BOOT.INI), you simply add an entry to it:
http://diddy.boot-la...ws.htm#windows1

And there are other ways :angry7:, if you want to directly boot GRLDR:
http://reboot.pro/2362/
that leaves filenames unchanged

For the record, for windows filenames are NOT case sensitive, for grub4dos they are also NOT on FAT12/16/32 and NTFS BUT they are on CDFS (ISO9660) filesystems.

:cheers:
Wonko

#8 tonyzg

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 11:45 AM

Grub4dos can be loaded allright from NTLDR (BOOT.INI), you simply add an entry to it:
http://diddy.boot-la...ws.htm#windows1


Thanks for answers. I probably must use option "Load via ntldr (Windows NT/2K/XP) - 2"
So I guess if I want to choose wich partition to boot
I have to make boot.ini something like this:

[boot loader] 

timeout=10

default= C:\grldr 

[operating systems]

C:\grldr="Grub4Dos"

D:\grldr="Grub4Dos"

where C is FAT32 partition and D is NTFS partition... or I'm totaly wrong??
Do I have to make both partitions bootable with mkbt (can I do that on second partition?
I presume that most progs can only make first partition bootable...)?
Or do I have to use "Installing Grub4dos Code to The Partition Boot Sector (grubinst)"
section of that guide? But there it says that partition must be active... and (if I'm not wrong)
only one partition can be active on same disk. I just don't have enough knowledge to
understand how to make the second partition bootable too... :confused1:

The thing is that I realy need to have a option to choose wich partition too boot from if that is possible...

#9 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 12:21 PM

where C is FAT32 partition and D is NTFS partition... or I'm totaly wrong??

Totally is a big word. :ph34r:
Partially is a much better one. :mellow:
Due to some "flawed" logic in NTLDR code the "C:\GRLDR" actually means "GRLDR on this same partition", while D:\GRLDR means "a suffusion of yellow" at the worst :ph34r: or "C:\grldr" at the best :mellow: .

Add ONLY the "C:\GRLDR" line.

Then, once in grub4dos, you are free to do *whatever* you wish to.

Do I have to make both partitions bootable with mkbt (can I do that on second partition?

NO.
If the partition(s) were formatted under 2K/XP/2003 they are ALREADY fine, as they will ALREADY have a bootsector invoking NTLDR (which actually is what is the "base" requirement for this method).

I presume that most progs can only make first partition bootable...)?
Or do I have to use "Installing Grub4dos Code to The Partition Boot Sector (grubinst)"
section of that guide? But there it says that partition must be active... and (if I'm not wrong)
only one partition can be active on same disk. I just don't have enough knowledge to
understand how to make the second partition bootable too... :confused1:


Yes, I see how you are confused, but matters can be cleared allright with a little of patience. :)

You are using "standard" MBR CODE.
The way it is written it will ONLY "chainload" the bootsector (or PBR - Partition Boot Record or VBR - Volume Boot record) of the one and ONLY partition listed in the MBR DATA (partition table) as "Active".
You are using a "standard" PBR code.
The way it is written it will ONLY "chainload" a file named NTLDR (in the case of a NT/2K/XP/2003 PBR) residing inside same partition/volume.
You are using a "standard" NTLDR.
The way it is written it will look in the same partition/volume where it resides for a file named BOOT.INI and:
  • if it doesn't find it, it will try to boot windows from \WINNT\ (NT+2K) or \WINDOWS\ (XP+2003)
  • if it finds it, it will check whether it contains more than one directive lines:


  • if there is only one of these, it will simply attempt executing it
  • if there is more than one, it will wait [timeout] seconds for an user choice
  • if user makes a choice and presses [ENTER] it will attempt executing it it immediately
  • if user makes a choice and timeout has passed will attempt executing choice eventually
  • if user makes NO choices and timeout has passed will attempt executing default eventually

Once grub4dos is loaded you can have several different approaches possible, typically:
  • change active partition in the MBR partition table (then reboot and have the "other" partition active)
  • directly chainload another (or same :w00t:) partition bootsector PBR
  • directly chainload a OS loader residing on another (or same) partition

The thing is that I realy need to have a option to choose wich partition too boot from if that is possible...

Sure it is possible ;).

Does the above clear the matter enough or you need more help? :unsure:

Do take some time on the Guide:
http://diddy.boot-land.net/grub4dos/
And particularly on:
http://diddy.boot-la...iles/basics.htm
http://diddy.boot-la...s/files/cli.htm
(these two chapters should give you the "basics" that you are seemingly missing right now, and will allow further steps in the right direction)

:cheers:
Wonko

#10 tonyzg

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 12:39 PM

Once grub4dos is loaded you can have several different approaches possible, typically:

  • change active partition in the MBR partition table (then reboot and have the "other" partition active)
  • directly chainload another (or same :mellow:) partition bootsector PBR

:ph34r:
Wonko


This is probably what I'm looking for, I just have to figure it out after reading those 3 guides :mellow:

Thanks. I'll inform you when I manage to get it right :confused1:

#11 Sha0

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 05:55 PM

If you have one large NTFS partition formatted by Windows, the partition's boot code will try to load NTLDR. Rename GRUB4DOS' GRLDR and it should boot GRUB4DOS.

I have to rename grldr to ntldr or grldr to upercase -> GRLDR?

Please NO. :ph34r:

DO NOT rename *anything* to *anything else*.

There is NO *need* for it.

You can do it allright, but before or later you will forget that you renamed (or mislabeled) *something* :mellow: and you will find yourself drinking an urine sample instead of ice tea :ph34r: :confused1:

<F2> <HOME> <DEL> <DEL> <N> <T> <ENTER>. While it doesn't get much simpler than that, I guess you could forget what's what without notes. :mellow:

OK, I could do that and than GRUB4DOS will be installed to FAT32 partition and than HDD will boot that partition, but how can I then select to boot the second (NTFS) partition?

My goal is to be able to select to boot into FAT32 or NTFS partition on HDD.

I don't plan to make FAT32 partition biger than 30GB, the 400GB partition will be NTFS. Or did you mean something else?

Having the first partition as a 30 GB FAT32 is probably a good idea, as long as all of your DOS versions with your utilities support FAT32.

What are you booting on the NTFS partition? Surely not DOS. If it's a Windows or Windows PE installation, you can chain-load those items from GRUB4DOS. You can start GRUB4DOS from the FAT partition. You can boot the FAT partition by making it active in the MBR.

USB Boot -> MBR -> FAT boot sector -> DOS -> GRUB4DOS -> whatever-on-NTFS (SETUPLDR, NTLDR, BOOTMGR). In perhaps a similar spirit to Wonko the Sane's suggestion to avoid renaming files, this scenario doesn't involve installing GRUB4DOS (thus changing MBR or partition boot sector), doesn't involve hex-editing any boot sectors, doesn't involve renaming any files. It involves "standard operations" and copying files and editing text files, such as CONFIG.SYS and MENU.LST.

#12 tonyzg

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 09:35 AM

Having the first partition as a 30 GB FAT32 is probably a good idea, as long as all of your DOS versions with your utilities support FAT32.

What are you booting on the NTFS partition? Surely not DOS. If it's a Windows or Windows PE installation, you can chain-load those items from GRUB4DOS. You can start GRUB4DOS from the FAT partition. You can boot the FAT partition by making it active in the MBR.


I need NTFS partition because I have few .iso files (wich I use in my menu.lst) bigger than 4GB.
Now I use 2 USB sticks and 1 external USB HDD:

1. first stick is FAT32 (prepared with RMPrepUSB and with instaled Grub4dos) and I use it mainly with
some dos programs and Hiren's image file.
2. second stick is NTFS and I use for Acronis backup boot CD
3. external USB HDD I use for Acronis backup image files (total around 200GB)

So I tought that I can replace those 3 with one bootable USB HDD where I can choose do I want to start Grub4dos from FAT32 or NTFS partition
and have all my Acronis backup image files on same disk.


But now I'm stucked again. I made first partition on USB HDD FAT32 (size 30GB) and another NTFS (size 430GB) and instaled Grub4dos through
RMPrepUSB "Install Grub4dos" option (I used option to install it to MBR) and copied grldr and menu.lst file there. The disk won't boot into
menu.lst options but goes directly into Windows installed on my PC.
I found somewhere guide that describes that I can prepare USB HDD with RMPrepUSB just like USB stick (with "Prepare Drive" option in RMPrepUSB)
but it doesn't change anything. I even used was_jaclaz's advice about copying ntldr, ntdetect.com and boot.ini files to first partition and installing
Grub4dos but nothing makes my HDD bootable it just goes into Windows after choosing to boot from USB at startup.

I'm trying this on two HP desktop PCs (HP Compaq 8000 and HP Compaq DC7700) where my USB stick boot without any problem but this USB HDD doesn't.
Is it the BIOS problem? It shouldn't be because USB sticks don't have any problem booting.
Yesterday I was able to boot from USB HDD on my notebook at home (I think I used RMPrepUSB to install Grub4dos on HDD and that was all I need it, I even
didn't made 1st partition active then). I'm realy confused now... is there any app that can automaticaly prepare my HDD (like RMPrepUSB do for USB sticks)
because I'm, to stupid to do it manualy :clap:

Edited by tonyzg, 21 March 2011 - 09:53 AM.


#13 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 10:03 AM

tonyzg
Let's recap.
You have a USB hard disk.
You used RMPREPUSB and had it bootable.
Now you are saying that you used RMPREPUSB and you have it NOT bootable.

Most probably you mixed something up or failed to report with some order (or I completely missed something :clap:).

You miss something (most) of the "history".
RMPREPUSB was born because of a limitation of the Windows built in tools when it comes to USB sticks (not because they are "sticks" but because they are usually set to be a "removable" device).

You do NOT *need* RMPREPUSB or ANY other special tool to partition and format an USB hard disk to make it bootable.

BUT there may be specific problems with the BIOS and recently a new kind of problems related to newish hard disks (green type).

What I would do if I were you.
Read the increasingly outdated FAQ #10 here:
http://jaclaz.alterv...SB/USBfaqs.html
to have an idea of the kind of strange things that can happen (with sticks, but some apply also to HD).

Wipe BOTH the hard disk and your ideas :rofl: about how to make it bootable and simply try doing the following (I am assuming you are running Windows XP, if you are running Vista :happy_dance: or 7 some further things needed to be done).
  • Connect your USB hard disk.
  • Open Disk Management and delete each and every partition now on it.
  • Create a new partition SMALLER that 8 Gb and format it as either FAT32 or NTFS.
  • Make it Active
  • Give it a senceful name, like "BOOT"
  • Leave the rest of the disk EMPTY.
  • Exit disk management.
  • Copy to the newly created partition ONLY:
  • NTLDR
  • NTDETECT.COM
  • BOOT.INI

The contents of BOOT.INI should be:
[boot loader]

timeout=30

default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS

[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

C:\grldr="Grub4Dos"

Now try booting from the external USB.

TWO possibilities:
  • it doesn't boot
  • it boots and you get to see this:
Posted Image

Report what happens.

:)
Wonko

#14 tonyzg

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 10:33 AM

First of all thanks for your patience :happy_dance:

tonyzg
Let's recap.
You have a USB hard disk.
You used RMPREPUSB and had it bootable.
Now you are saying that you used RMPREPUSB and you have it NOT bootable.


I did it yesterday at home and it booted OK. Today at work (diferent PC) it didn't boot so I reused RMPrepUSB (as at home) and no luck.

RMPREPUSB was born because of a limitation of the Windows built in tools when it comes to USB sticks (not because they are "sticks" but because they are usually set to be a "removable" device).


I'm using RMPrepUSB only for installing Grub4dos since I was playing with USB sticks lately and had everything in one place with that app.
I know I can use grubinst_gui.exe but I just grow into RMPrepUSB so I use it instead :clap:
I only once tried to use option "Prepare Disk" on my USB HDD since I read somewhere that it can be done like that.

Wipe BOTH the hard disk and your ideas :rofl: about how to make it bootable and simply try doing the following ....

Report what happens.

:)
Wonko

I did exactly as you said and Windows XP (installed on my PC) booted without
giving me that menu for choosing Win XP or Grub4dos ????
One thing... Do I need to install Grub4dos (and copy grldr) on HDD or not? My guess is not.
Another... Do I need to have Grub4dos installed on my PC here at work (cause it's not installed here)? My guess is not, too.
I formated partition as FAT32(sized around 4GB) made it active and the rest of disk was lesft unallocated.
Will it make any difference if I try to format it as NTFS?
Could it be some problem with my MBR or bootsector?
One more thing. The WD Passport have one hidden partition which in Windows shows up as virtual CD.
Maybe that partition is causing problem...

New Edit: hmmmmmm I think it's the problem that BIOS and this HDD don't like each other.
Just went to BIOS and saw that it recognize this HDD as 0.00MB WD SES Device.
I pluged in another external I have (Seagate) and it's recognized as 500GB Seagate.
I'll try to do everything again with this Seagate HDD and report back about results.

Edited by tonyzg, 21 March 2011 - 11:31 AM.


#15 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 12:00 PM

Yep :clap: , the idea was to use ONLY XP built in tools and code as they guarantee a "wider" compatibility with *everything* since they are the most common ones, or, if you prefer it is very uncommon that *something* does not boot using them while it is possible that third party boot code (including like grub4dos one) is seen by BIOS as NOT bootable (still VERY rare :happy_dance: , but possible :rofl: ).

My guess is that your last consideration is correct: the problem is (as an example) if that's a HP machine with their "stoopid" AMI BIOS) and/or the hard disk is one of the "stoopid" enclosure with "automagic firmware" (or the like) and/or inside it there is one of the stoopid "green" hard disk :P .

Some "green" hard disk simply do not spin up (or give early enough *any* sign on the bus) and - expecially when coupled with "retarded" BIOSes that "detect on the fly" devices on the USB bus - and/or "dementedly advanced" USB controllers with "added features" (like the CD-like device you mentioned or the one-touch easy backup or whatever") they are a PITA to boot from (if possible at all :)).

:mellow:
Wonko

#16 tonyzg

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 01:10 PM

I was able to make WD Passport bootable on one of my PCs but on another one
(HP dc7700) I didn't succeed even with the Seagate HDD wich in BIOS is recognized
as 500GB disk. I guess that BIOS just don't like bootable USB disks. That't too bad
because now I can't get rid of my USB sticks which was general idea.

If anyone have solution for this let me know and for now thanks to all of you for help, epecially to you Wonko.

#17 Sha0

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 01:41 PM

I was able to make WD Passport bootable on one of my PCs but on another one
(HP dc7700) I didn't succeed even with the Seagate HDD wich in BIOS is recognized
as 500GB disk. I guess that BIOS just don't like bootable USB disks. That't too bad
because now I can't get rid of my USB sticks which was general idea.

If anyone have solution for this let me know and for now thanks to all of you for help, epecially to you Wonko.

I have this model of computer. What process did you attempt to use to make the Seagate bootable?

#18 tonyzg

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 01:53 PM

I have this model of computer. What process did you attempt to use to make the Seagate bootable?


The last one Wonko suggested

1.Connect your USB hard disk.



2.Open Disk Management and delete each and every partition now on it.



3.Create a new partition SMALLER that 8 Gb and format it as either FAT32 or NTFS.



4.Make it Active



5.Give it a senceful name, like "BOOT"



6.Leave the rest of the disk EMPTY.



7.Exit disk management.



8.Copy to the newly created partition ONLY:



•NTLDR



•NTDETECT.COM



•BOOT.INI


What version of BIOS you have on that PC?

Edited by tonyzg, 21 March 2011 - 01:54 PM.


#19 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 02:32 PM

Hey, you are not going to give up, are't you? :clap:

If the BIOS sees the hard disk it CAN be made bootable, one way or the other.

There are two ways to boot from USB on some systems:
  • setting the USB priority before any other device ("permanently")
  • pressing during boot a "hot key" and change the boot order onlly for that session

WHICH one did you use?
WHICH settings do you have in the "strange" ones like "USB legacy support" or the like?
CAN you do som emore test with a smaller hard disk? (let's say a <128 Gb one?)

:happy_dance:
Wonko

#20 Sha0

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 02:42 PM

What version of BIOS you have on that PC?

I have hundreds of them and the ability to flash them to any BIOS version that HP offers for download.

I wasn't suggesting that I have any Seagate USB drives. But my experiences with this model's ability to boot from USB do not lead me to believe that they would have a problem booting a USB HDD (if that USB HDD is itself sane). HOWEVER, my personal procedure for making bootable USB HDDs is a bit different than Wonko the Sane's suggestion. What I do is:
  • Prepare a very small (like 30 MB) FAT16 partition on the USB HDD with Windows.
  • Copy GRLDR to it.
  • Copy a DOS floppy image to it. The DOS floppy contains FDISK, FORMAT, SYS as well as GRUB4DOS.
  • Save the MBR partition table.
  • DD the GRUB4DOS MBR to the USB HDD.
  • Restore the MBR partition table.
  • Boot a computer to the USB HDD. It boots GRUB4DOS.
  • Map the DOS floppy image as a RAM disk.
  • Erase the USB HDD MBR with GRUB4DOS.
  • Boot the DOS RAM disk. It obviously boots DOS.
  • Use FDISK to create a nice, FAT32 partition of whatever size I desire. I choose to make it the active partition.
  • FDISK tells me to reboot, but I launch GRUB4DOS, instead.
  • I then boot the DOS RAM disk again. It obviously boots DOS.
  • I FORMAT the new FAT32 partition on the USB HDD.
  • I SYS the new FAT32 partition on the USB HDD to make it bootable.
  • I copy GRUB4DOS to the new FAT32 partition on the USB HDD.


#21 Icecube

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:04 PM

Some "green" hard disk simply do not spin up (or give early enough *any* sign on the bus) and - expecially when coupled with "retarded" BIOSes that "detect on the fly" devices on the USB bus - and/or "dementedly advanced" USB controllers with "added features" (like the CD-like device you mentioned or the one-touch easy backup or whatever") they are a PITA to boot from (if possible at all :clap:).

There is an easy solution for such slow USB hard drives. Mine has an external power supply. I switch it on 10 seconds before switching on my PC. If I turn them on at the same time, my BIOS hangs while detecting the USB hard drive. If you can't turn it on (no external power supply) before turning on the PC/laptop, you can first boot the PC/laptop, press a key to get to the drive selection menu, turn on the USB hard drive, wait until the drive is spinned up, pres Ctrl+Alt+Del to reboot the PC.

#22 Sha0

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:12 PM

Oh, and maybe the Plop boot manager might help, too. It can boot USB drives, but of course you'd have to be able to boot Plop from some device.

#23 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:16 PM

There is an easy solution for such slow USB hard drives. Mine has an external power supply. I switch it on 10 seconds before switching on my PC. If I turn them on at the same time, my BIOS hangs while detecting the USB hard drive. If you can't turn it on (no external power supply) before turning on the PC/laptop, you can first boot the PC/laptop, press a key to get to the drive selection menu, turn on the USB hard drive, wait until the drive is spinned up, pres Ctrl+Alt+Del to reboot the PC.


Oh, and maybe the Plop boot manager might help, too. It can boot USB drives, but of course you'd have to be able to boot Plop from some device.


Yep :).
But sometimes both the above approaches simply do not work :rofl: .

Last experience (thread is VERY long, and large parts of it are unrelated, but around here should be the meaningful part):
http://www.911cd.net...ic=24161&st=345
and maybe not so casually :clap: it was about a HP system.

@Sha0
JFYI, what Wonko the Sane actually uses is different from what he suggested also:
http://www.msfn.org/...ows/page__st__3
and very similar to what you described, though MUCH simpler :happy_dance:.

BUT right now all the problem seems revolving about hard disk "detection" or "boot order".
A "wrongly partitioned/formatted" HD usually gives some "sign", like black screen, error message, flashing cursor, flashing or static "j" or "g" in corner of the screen, something.


:mellow:
Wonko

#24 tonyzg

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 04:55 PM

Hey, you are not going to give up, are't you? :mellow:

If the BIOS sees the hard disk it CAN be made bootable, one way or the other.

There are two ways to boot from USB on some systems:

  • setting the USB priority before any other device ("permanently")
  • pressing during boot a "hot key" and change the boot order onlly for that session

WHICH one did you use?
WHICH settings do you have in the "strange" ones like "USB legacy support" or the like?
CAN you do som emore test with a smaller hard disk? (let's say a <128 Gb one?)

:P
Wonko


I used both of them and none worked. I'll try some more testing tomorrow when I return to work. Sadly I'm stuck with those two HDDs both 500GB...
:)

And, no I'm not gonna give up :rofl:

@Sha0
Your method is to advanced for me now :clap: but thanks for the tip (maybe when I'll have
some more knowledge about MBR and Grub4dos... :happy_dance: ). I don't wan't PLOP because I'm trying to have just my HDD as bootable hardware part.

Just another new edit:

Now I tested my WD Passport at 2 my notebooks (HP 8510p and ACER 8935G) and my old HTPC
and it booted normaly to my menu.lst choices. It's just that d*mn HP dc7700 at work that
won't boot. I'll realy have to do some more testing tomorrow at that machine.

Edited by tonyzg, 21 March 2011 - 05:32 PM.


#25 tonyzg

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 12:47 PM

Here's what I found out so far:

http://community.wdc.com/t5/My-Passport-for-PC/Disable-Remove-SES-Device-at-firmware-level/td-p/84669
So guys avoid WD Passports if you wan't bootable USB HDD on various range of PC.

I gave all my hopes to Seagate and it worked :unsure: :happy_dance2:
I don't know what I did wrong with him yesterday but today following Wonko's
suggested method everything works with Seagate USB HDD.

Now, I made first partition NTFS and second FAT32. The disc boot directly to my menu.lst
and give me all my menu choices. All apps works as they supposed to.
Now I put new title in menu.lst like this (my goal is to boot the grub4dos from FAT32 partition):

title Boot FAT32 USB

rootnoverify (hd0,1)

# makeactive

chainloader +1

makeactive is commented because I'm not sure do I need it because in this way I got menu.lst
from FAT32 partition.
My first question is: is this right way to do it?
Second question is: my apps from menu.lst (it's the same one as on the NTFS partition) execute even if .iso files are on the NTFS partition and none on FAT32. Is that
how it's supposed to be or not? I thought that I'll need to have the .iso
files on the FAT32 partition if I wan't to start them from there.

On my FAT32 partition I made similar menu.lst entry (the goal is to return to grub4dos on NTFS partition):

title Boot NTFS USB

rootnoverify (hd0,0)

# makeactive

chainloader +1

And when executed I'm not going directly to menu.lst from NTFS partition but first
I'm given choices from boot.ini. Why I didn't have this when I executed it to boot to FAT32 partition?

I hope you understand what is my goal and what I did to achieve this (because my English in
not so good) so that you can see wether I'm doing it right or wrong and that you can propose
better advice how to do it (and I'm sure that there will be few of them :worship: :thumbup: )

Edited by tonyzg, 22 March 2011 - 01:11 PM.





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