Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When the PC BIOS Doesn’t Support Booting From CD-ROM

One of my clients had a bunch of older Pentium 4 PCs that they wanted configured as proxy servers for their branch offices.

My Open Source OS of choice is FreeBSD and I planned to use this along with squid as the proxy server.

So I downloaded and burnt a FreeBSD 7.2 ISO. I managed to install it successfully on two PCs, but the CD failed to boot on the other three. So I swapped the CD-ROM drive for a working one. Still no luck. I wasn’t particularly interested in performing a floppy/FTP install and getting the FreeBSD ISO booting from a USB thumb drive was a non-trivial exercise.

What I ended up doing was to use Smart Boot Manager. I used fdimage.exe from the Tools folder included with FreeBSD 4.8 to write out sbm.img to a floppy, then ensured the floppy in the recalcitrant PCs was working. Hey presto, one boot menu allowing me to boot off the CD!

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