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Suppose I have a 1.44 MB floppy image with, say, a BIOS update, and a server with no floppy drive. How do I boot this image on the server? Without getting a USB floppy drive, that is.

I tried copying the image to a USB drive (raw copy using dd), but it didn't boot, it just said "No kernel" and continued booting on the HD.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

MEMDISK can do this, but you're on your own if you're not using one of the bootloaders listed in the article.

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I used MEMDISK, not with my original floppy image, but with the "Balder" floppy image with copies of the BIOS update program files, but it worked! – Teddy Apr 29 '10 at 14:22

Here is how to use it with LILO:

$ <install syslinux>
$ sudo cp /usr/lib/syslinux/memdisk /boot/memdisk

Syslinux config file:

label dos
  kernel memdisk
  append initrd=dosboot.img

Lilo config file:

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PXE is a really good way to do stuff like this as well, and it keeps you from having to go into the server room, assuming you have some sort of remote console.

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How, in a bit more detail, please, do you do this? – Teddy Apr 30 '10 at 11:43
Well, you start by reading about PXE. It's a technology, not a product, so I can't give you step by steps. It allows a PXE-enabled machine (almost anything on the market in the last 8 years) to boot from an image available on the network. You need to have a PXE server, configured to serve up the bootable image or images that you have. When the client machine boots, you usually hit F12 or something similar to "boot from network", or "PXE boot", consult your documentation. That bypasses booting from CDROM, floppy, local disk, etc. – mfinni Apr 30 '10 at 13:50
+1 for elaborating. – Teddy May 6 '10 at 6:14

Freedos has the ability to create floppy images on a USB flash drive. Google around and there are a few how-to's on the subject. It's the method i always use. I'm sure there are more 'direct' methods, but this has always worked for me.

The beauty of using this method is that is can create a 'propper' bootable DOS partition on your USB drive, which can them have files added in the normal gui (gnome or kde for example). These files will appear on the disk once you boot from it and you can run them just as any other dos executable...

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"Google around" is not a good answer. Provide links. – Teddy Apr 29 '10 at 18:47
My appologies, should i vist the site and do the job for you? From the information given it is a simple matter to search google. Instead of complaining, if it's so important, maybe you should have done the googling and found your answer...... It also depends on your linux version, the size of your USB drive etc, so i cannot give a 100% definitive answer, hence "google around for it"..... – BParker Apr 30 '10 at 8:12
Why, yes, I do believe this is what this site is for - getting specific answers to questions instead of instructions to Google for it. – Teddy Apr 30 '10 at 11:41
yes, i agree. my specific answer is to look for a complete how to regarding creating Bootable DOS USB Flash drives using the open source FreeDOS system. To complete this task, i suggest using the Google search engine. If you have trouble with using google, please start a new thread on server fault and i am sure someone will guide you through it. The site is not a place to repeat how-to's found elsewere on this wonderful source of knowledge we call the internet.... – BParker Apr 30 '10 at 18:02

Using this you should be able to make it bootable, I reckon. I haven't done it before but if the floppy is normally bootable, this should enable you to boot it as well. So just copy the floppy files over instead of the mentioned windows files.

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Actually, I'm starting to doubt a little. If you do try this, please let me know if it works? – HannesFostie Apr 29 '10 at 14:06

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