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Installing a boot loader to a CD or floppy

By PanicX
Jul 15, 2005
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  1. Hey guys!

    Ok, I've got an issue that I thought wasn't so bad, but I've spent days talking with HP support and can't get anything useful from them.

    Short Version:
    I've installed RehHat Linux AS 4.0 on a SCSI controller that BIOS can not boot from. I need help making a disk that my server can boot from that will load the OS on this SCSI controller.

    Long Version:
    I recently just purchased a new HP DL585 with the intentions of booting from a SAN so as to save costs on SCSI disks and a RAID controller. I've installed a Qlogic 4010c iSCSI controller card and configured the attached storage.

    Ok, simple right?

    Now I started the RedHat install, going through the basic steps. When it gets to what drive it wants me to install onto, it doesn't see my storage. So I load in the driver diskette, it then sees the storage and installs as normal.

    Still with me?

    So now I have linux installed on the attached storage, the installer requests a reboot. So the machine cycles and comes up with a No System Drive detected error and reboots.

    Huh? Wha?

    So on the reboot, I enter the BIOS configuration and find that even though the card is detected, it cannot be selected as a bootable device. And seeing that none of the "bootable devices" has an OS, the No System Drive error results.

    Ok, its a BIOS issue, I know, however the next BIOS revision that will enable this option isn't going to be ready until NEXT YEAR! BOO!

    So correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I need to create a boot loader on one of the bootable devices the server does support, that will then load my OS. And try as I might (and have) I can't find a decent explination of how to do this anywhere. I don't care if its LILO, GRUB, System Commander, NTLOADER or what, I just need help making this work.

    Thanks, and let me know if this description is too confusing, it seems to overwhelm HP, Qlogic and Redhat support.
  2. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 1,595

    The easiest way to do it is add an IDE drive to the machine and have only /boot on that drive. That way you can load the kernel with support for the controller then boot the rest of the system from it.

    It is fairly easy to install a boot loader to a floppy drive from inside linux. You can make a grub.conf on the floppy itself then run grub and install it to floppy.

    Or you can try SBM. That can install directly to floppy and may work:

    http://btmgr.sourceforge.net/about.html
  3. PanicX

    PanicX TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 829

    Thanks for the quick reply SoulHarvester.

    Installing an IDE drive in this server wouldn't really be an easy task and wouldn't be ideal anyhow. I just tried out the Smart Boot Manager and it doesn't see the drive partition. There's information about using themes for SBM but I'm not sure if they'll change what drives are recognized, I'll have to look further.

    How exactly would I go about using a different computer to create a grub boot disk?
  4. PanicX

    PanicX TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 829

    OK, I've resolved the issue. I used the same method described here. (linuxquestions.org)

    My situation was a bit tricky as I'll explain for anyone else it may help.
    I used the "linux rescue" option from the install disk boot prompt. When prompted for a disk controller, I used a driver disk to get access to my storage. Once the file system was mounted I used the "chroot /mnt/sysimage" command to set "/" to /dev/sda1.

    The tricky part is that at this point in the linux installation, it has not copied the "mkbootdisk" script needed to create the bootdisk in the instructions above. So I had to build a seperate server and install RedHat AS 4 on it including the FTP server module. Then from the linux rescue I could FTP to the second server and get the mkbootdisk script. I also had to disable iptables on the FTP server as I'd get the error, "ftp: connect: no route to host" while trying to navigate through FTP.

    I copied the mkbootdisk file from the /sbin directory to the /sbin directory on the linux rescue machine. Then I ran the command "mkbootdisk --verbose --iso --device boot.iso `uname -r`". Once it completed, I copied the boot.iso file to the FTP server and burned it to a CD.

    So now I have a working boot disk work around for a problem HP said couldn't be done. Thanks again!
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