Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices? - BSD

This is a discussion on Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices? - BSD ; Hello, Yes, crazy idea - I know - but still: Is there a boot loader that supports booting FreeBSD from usb devices (mostly hard drives) somewhere? You know, for old laptops which doesn't support usb boot i their bios. I ...

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Thread: Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices?

  1. Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices?

    Hello,

    Yes, crazy idea - I know - but still:

    Is there a boot loader that supports booting FreeBSD from usb devices
    (mostly hard drives) somewhere?
    You know, for old laptops which doesn't support usb boot i their bios.

    I have a couple of these old laptops, and they would be ideal testing
    machines, except that they doen't support usb boot in their bios (latest
    bios of course).

    And changing the internal hard drive when I want to test sometjhng new
    is a hassle.

    But if I could install a boot loader on the hard drive that would
    recognize and boot from any connected hard drives, life would be much
    easier.

    Any ideas?
    --
    Torfinn Ingolfsen,
    Norway

  2. Re: Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices?

    Torfinn Ingolfsen wrote:
    >
    > But if I could install a boot loader on the hard drive that would
    > recognize and boot from any connected hard drives, life would be much
    > easier.


    grub in principle does that. But you may be obliged to boot /boot/kernel
    directly from grub, since maybe /boot/loader will not be able to boot
    kernel from usb stick.

    You can look at
    http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/wiki/i...hp/USB_Booting
    for some help.

    >
    > Any ideas?


    --

    Michel TALON


  3. Re: Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices?

    Michel Talon wrote:
    > grub in principle does that. But you may be obliged to boot /boot/kernel


    Ok. Follow-up question: is there a way to install grub on a floppy so
    that it never (never ever) writes to any hard drives?

    > directly from grub, since maybe /boot/loader will not be able to boot
    > kernel from usb stick.


    Note: I'm talking about usb hard drives here, not usb (flash) memory
    sticks, in case there is a difference.
    --
    Torfinn Ingolfsen,
    Norway

  4. Re: Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices?

    Torfinn Ingolfsen wrote:
    > Ok. Follow-up question: is there a way to install grub on a floppy so
    > that it never (never ever) writes to any hard drives?


    Follow-up: I tried the latest version (0.9764) of Super Grub Disk[1],
    but alas it didn't show any partitions except the internal hard drive.
    Yes, I did have a usb hard drive (with two FreeBSD partitions on it)
    connected when I tested sgd.

    References:
    1) sgd - http://www.supergrubdisk.org/
    --
    Torfinn Ingolfsen,
    Norway

  5. Re: Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices?

    Torfinn Ingolfsen wrote:
    > Michel Talon wrote:
    > > grub in principle does that. But you may be obliged to boot /boot/kernel

    >
    > Ok. Follow-up question: is there a way to install grub on a floppy so
    > that it never (never ever) writes to any hard drives?


    Yes, you can do that (*). Simpler you can use many Linux cdroms which have
    grub as boot loader (e.g. Ubuntu) so that you can enter the grub prompt
    and play until you succeed in booting the USB drive.

    >
    > > directly from grub, since maybe /boot/loader will not be able to boot
    > > kernel from usb stick.

    >
    > Note: I'm talking about usb hard drives here, not usb (flash) memory
    > sticks, in case there is a difference.


    I don't think there is any difference.

    (*) how to do a grub floppy is explained in the grub doc. It requires
    working fdformat and using dd. I fear that fdformat is busted in recent
    FreeBSD.


    --

    Michel TALON


  6. Re: Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices?

    Torfinn Ingolfsen wrote:
    > Torfinn Ingolfsen wrote:
    > > Ok. Follow-up question: is there a way to install grub on a floppy so
    > > that it never (never ever) writes to any hard drives?

    >
    > Follow-up: I tried the latest version (0.9764) of Super Grub Disk[1],
    > but alas it didn't show any partitions except the internal hard drive.
    > Yes, I did have a usb hard drive (with two FreeBSD partitions on it)
    > connected when I tested sgd.
    >
    > References:
    > 1) sgd - http://www.supergrubdisk.org/


    So your BIOS is unable to present the USB disks to the boot loader.
    Very unfortunate, but it was one of the possibilities. Probably
    many if not all bootloaders will use BIOS calls to locate disks and
    load OS's from them. I suppose it is the same problem with FreeBSD
    /boot/loader.

    --

    Michel TALON


  7. Re: Boot loader that supports booting from usb devices?

    Michel Talon wrote:
    > So your BIOS is unable to present the USB disks to the boot loader.


    Yes. I thought that "no bios support for usb boot" implied that, but ...

    > Very unfortunate, but it was one of the possibilities. Probably
    > many if not all bootloaders will use BIOS calls to locate disks and
    > load OS's from them. I suppose it is the same problem with FreeBSD
    > /boot/loader.


    Yes, the FreeBSD boot loader doesn't have usb boot support either (but
    of course we all knew that).
    Luckily, I seem to have found a working solution.

    I burned a CD with the PLoP Boot Manager[1], and it will boot from my
    usb hard drive. It is a bit slow (not necessarily PLoP's fault - the usb
    on this laptop is only usb 1.1) and once in a while the boot stops, but
    it works.
    It's not prefect - it seems it can only boot the active partition (I
    have the FreeBSD boot manager installed, but it doesn't matter if I
    press F1 or F2 - it always boots the active slice).

    But still a very nice tool.

    References:
    1) http://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager.html

    --
    Torfinn Ingolfsen,
    Norway

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