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 Forum index » House Training » Bugs ( Submit bugs )
Saluki and Lucid 525 / 528 USB Boot freeze.
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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2094
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue 08 May 2012, 13:17    Post subject:  

rcrsn51 wrote:
There is definitely something slightly different about your particular machine.

I can't see how it's a Gparted issue, which suggests that the new syslinux is causing the trouble.

I've been starting to wonder if I can make some sort of comparison between my successfully bootable Pup431 stick and my non-booting Racy53 stick in order to pin down what is upsetting my machine.

I've been doing a bit of research about Gparted and wondering if it is not so much Gparted that is contributing - but maybe how I am using Gparted?? I now realise that partitioning utils and bootloaders are rather more complex than the simple Gparted gui might suggest. And also that there are other partitioners that do a better job of revealing problems that a user might introduce. I have been using the default Gparted parameters, but am reading that features like round-to-cylinders and round-to MiB are critical in terms of optimising performance. I am assuming that my Bios is not happy with something that the Racy53 version of Gparted and universal installer is formatting either at the hardware partition level, logical partition level, mbr, or partition table.

(I also read something about 4k boundaries being desirable on a Windows machine - I know that is of no interest here, but it is an example of the underlying complexity of getting the disk correctly setup for the specific OS).

There has to be some parameter that varies between the two sticks - and maybe the bios is expecting a "Windows-like" parameter, rather than the way Linux wants the partitioning etc to be. Maybe my bios is the faulty component - either way I would like to drill down to compare the sticks and try to gain more info.
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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2094
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue 08 May 2012, 13:23    Post subject:  

Karl Godt wrote:
The gui is a little too sophisticated especially when not run at Win bootup but otherwise works great .
When this driver is installed, then there is no need for FAT !

Thanks. That is probably good advice for the future (although I don't like the idea of touching the windows installation...). While I am testing I think I will stick with FAT at the moment. Once I understand better what is going on I will be ready to move further forward.
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rcrsn51


Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 8558
Location: Stratford, Ontario

PostPosted: Tue 08 May 2012, 13:42    Post subject:  

Just out of curiosity, when you set up your flash drives, do you also install boot code on the MBR? I always use /usr/lib/syslinux/mbr.bin.
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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2094
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue 08 May 2012, 14:54    Post subject:  

rcrsn51 wrote:
Just out of curiosity, when you set up your flash drives, do you also install boot code on the MBR? I always use /usr/lib/syslinux/mbr.bin.

No, I don't. I have only run Gparted and then relied on the universal installer to do the rest. In the case of my testing I am also trying to rely on the default choices at each step, so that I am introducing less variables (and emulating what most newcomers would do). I have received some comments recommending to use grub4dos or other methods to set up the mbr correctly, so I need to look more closely at why this is needed.

I just printed out 50 pages or so of information explaining what I haven't been doing, and various ways to get the mbr correct, so I have a bit of reading to do Smile
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shinobar


Joined: 28 May 2009
Posts: 2385
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue 08 May 2012, 18:44    Post subject: do not trust universal installer  

greengeek wrote:
I have only run Gparted and then relied on the universal installer to do the rest.

The universal installer is the root of the problem for all puppies.
The universal installer says 'the MBR is probably OK',
shinobar wrote:
But you will be surprised Puppy do not automatically install the boot loader,

http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=61348
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=62476

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Last edited by shinobar on Tue 08 May 2012, 23:20; edited 1 time in total
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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2094
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue 08 May 2012, 20:58    Post subject: Re: do not trust universal installer  

shinobar wrote:
But you will be surprised Puppy do not automatically install the boot loader,

Hey Shinobar, where did you make this quote from? I don't see it in the link you gave? I am interested to read the rest of the post you took the quote from.

Your advice is pretty clear - DO NOT TRUST UNIVERSAL INSTALLER -

Now I agree. (Except that I still trust 4.3.1 Smile )
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shinobar


Joined: 28 May 2009
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Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue 08 May 2012, 23:23    Post subject: Re: do not trust universal installer  

greengeek wrote:
shinobar wrote:
But you will be surprised Puppy do not automatically install the boot loader,

Hey Shinobar, where did you make this quote from?

Sorry, was in the article 'Try the Grub4Dos...'
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=61348
All papians need to try the Grub4Dos. Why?
- New comers from other distro: You need to use Grub4Dos.
You find Puppy can frugal install, and it is recommended.
But you will be surprised Puppy do not automatically install the boot loader,
and feel difficulty in manually editing the menu.lst because you are not used to the frugal install style.
Unfortunately you may install Puppy frugal on NTFS partitions, realize it cannot boot up from (legacy) grub.

I add similar comment at 'Frugalinstaller'.
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=57711

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ETP


Joined: 19 Oct 2010
Posts: 486
Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed 09 May 2012, 08:38    Post subject: Saluki and Lucid 525 / 528 USB Boot freeze.  

greengeek

Reading this thread I recall that I encountered similar problems when I first tried making bootable sticks & USB hard drives. None of the puppy tools or common utilities worked.
Either they completely failed to boot or did so intermittently.

The problem was down to a quirky BIOS that included some custom code for the PC OEM together with features for INTEL VIIV, energy lake & Raid support. Flashing the BIOS was therefore out of the question.

My salvation came in the form of the HP USB format utility (SP27608.exe) followed by the use of syslinux. (The hidden dos files can then be deleted from the fat stick or drive)

Using this method I have booted all versions of Luci/Lucid/Dpup/Slacko/Saluki etc etc without any problems. In each case I have done a manual fugal install.
I can vouch for syslinux 3.82 – 4.04 not having tried 4.05.

Send me a PM if you have not solved your problem and wish to try the HP utility.

It is interesting to note that in my case the Phoenix BIOS sees all USB devices as hard discs once this utility has been applied.

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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2094
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun 13 May 2012, 16:07    Post subject: Re: Saluki and Lucid 525 / 528 USB Boot freeze.  

There is a lot more testing I need to do, but so far I have learnt a lot about creating a usb stick to boot from. Here is my summary of what I have learnt so far:

1) It is very important to understand that Gparted is NOT suitable to “prepare” a USB stick for boot use. There is nothing wrong with Gparted, but it is only a partitioning tool - it does not “wipe” the usb stick completely. It does NOT create a fresh mbr (master boot record). In my opinion Gparted should be used AFTER a new mbr has been created with some other tool. (Gparted also has other limitations - there are sometimes reasons to use fdisk and/or cfdisk to achieve certain results - experts only)

2) It is no longer appropriate for the universal installer to offer the advice that “the mbr is probably ok”. In fact it is ESSENTIAL for the new user to assume that the mbr is defective. There are lots of reasons why the mbr can be problematic, (particularly in the modern world where we are at risk of trojans etc):
- Damage from write failures
- Poor manufacture
- Rootkits
- U3 functions
- USB buses which retain power somehow alter the interaction between the usb stick and bios (this was one of the issues on my netbook)
- Other unknown factors

3) There are various methods for creating a new, successful mbr. At the moment I offer no advice about which is best (as it will probably depend on the users requirements and experience) but some of these are: HP usb prep utility, SYSLINUX utility, Grub4DOS etc, etc. The universal installer offers the choice of the syslinux mbr.bin and really this should be the default choice for new users (although knowing when and why to use it is something that should probably be more strongly highlighted to new users).

I still have many questions: eg, why did Puppy 431 succeed in getting past the condition of my mbr, when Lucid 528 and Saluki did not? I do not believe this indicates a fault with either of these recent puppies, or indeed necessarily an issue with Extlinux - however it does indicate that the mbr configuration operates in tandem with other boot code to decide how to pass control to the operating system. It is vital to put the mbr into a known state before loading the operating system to the stick.

One really strange thing I have experienced is that the Saluki/Lucid boot problem was persistent even after the usb stick had been rendered usable by the Puppy431 installation. So each time I went back to the universal installer in Saluki or Lucid, and accepted the “default mbr” step - my boot problem returned, yet every time I did the 431 install on the same stick - the problem would go away. So either the 431 install was somehow forcing the boot process to ignore something “bad” in the mbr, or else the Saluki/Lucid installs were modifying the mbr in some way????? (I doubt that Saluki and Lucid were creating a bad mbr because now having selected the mbr.bin during one install I cannot get back to the state where Saluki or Lucid fails. This particular stick now works perfectly every time.)

So what exactly did mbr.bin do to my mbr to render it usable to modern puppies??? Why has the problem gone away? Why did the problem originally occur with a variety of brands/types of usb stick? I have retained a number of sticks that I will use for further testing and will report back with any further info that helps clarify this.

ETP wrote:
Send me a PM if you have not solved your problem and wish to try the HP utility.
It is interesting to note that in my case the Phoenix BIOS sees all USB devices as hard discs once this utility has been applied.

Thanks ETP. Now that I understand that Gparted was never wiping the disk clean I can move on and compare the different utilities that are capable of properly preparing a usb stick. You mentioned that the HP utility can wipe all the hidden files off the disk - do you think that is it's key to success? Or do you think it is reconstructing the mbr to a better state? Or both probably.

rcrsn51 wrote:
USB bootability has always been a black art

Black indeed. In fact things got so dark while I was doing my testing i thought I must have disappeared up my own fundament.
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shinobar


Joined: 28 May 2009
Posts: 2385
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Mon 14 May 2012, 00:28    Post subject: boot sequence  

For your information, the boot sequence:
A. Case of syslinux/extlinux
  1. BIOS sees which drive to boot (some BIOS checks the boot flag)
  2. MBR sees the boot flag on a partition, and chain to the PBS
  3. PBS loads the ldlinux.sys
  4. ldlinux.sys reads syslinux.cfg/extlinux.conf
  5. ldlinux.sys loads vmlinuz and initrd.gz
  6. Linux kernel(extracted vmlinuz) starts the init script in initrd.gz
  7. The init script loads the main sfs and pupsave
  8. Starts /etc/rc.d/rs.sysiinit
  9. ...

Note: syslinux/extlinux installs only PBS and ldlinux.sys.
You need to install MBR and to set the boot flag.
Gparted manages the partition table and flags, does nothing for MBR.

Error messages:
  • "Missing Operating System" means lacking MBR, step 2.
  • “Invalid or damaged Bootable partition” means maybe lacking PBS, step 3.
  • "Could not find Linux image" means failed at step 4 or 5. Maybe lacking syslinux.cfg/extlinux.conf or failed to read the partition.


B. Case of grub4dos
  1. BIOS sees which drive to boot (some BIOS checks the boot flag)
  2. MBR of grub4dos searches and load grdr
  3. grldr searches and read menu.lst
  4. grldr loads vmlinuz and initrd.gz
    ... same as syslinux/extlinux step

Note: the grub4dosconfig installs MBR and grldr and menu.lst.
The grub4dos skips PBS and also skips checking boot flag.

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Last edited by shinobar on Mon 14 May 2012, 18:56; edited 2 times in total
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ETP


Joined: 19 Oct 2010
Posts: 486
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon 14 May 2012, 08:25    Post subject: Saluki and Lucid 525 / 528 USB Boot freeze.  

greengeek

I agree with rcrsn51 that USB bootability has always been a black art. The problem seems to stem from the fact that they were originally envisaged purely as storage devices and no common method was ever specified for making them bootable.

Making them bootable therefore relies on tricking the BIOS into believing that they are one of the other devices that a BIOS is typically happy to boot from. This all depends on how the MBR is layed down.

Some utilities for example, trick the BIOS into seeing the stick as a ZIP drive. However some BIOSs seem to contain code that validates the size of a device. If the BIOS believes that the device is too big to be a ZIP drive it will throw its dummy out of the pram & refuse to boot!

With regard to the HP utility it in effect creates a DOS startup disc and does a FAT format of the device. The 3 DOS files can then subsequently be deleted. Its success I believe, relies on the fact that it works at the lowest common denominator fooling my particular BIOS into seeing the USB device as a hard disc. Syslinux is then used to install the hidden bootloader ldlinux.sys

In conclusion it works at a very fundemental level, all BIOSs being happy to boot from a hard disc and size is not an issue.

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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2094
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon 14 May 2012, 15:30    Post subject: Re: boot sequence  

shinobar wrote:

You need to install MBR and to set the boot flag.

Yes, I foolishly believed that the mbr was written by Gparted. I feel so stupid. Now I understand why people rely on Grub4Dos etc for a usb boot. They DON'T need any form of grub, but they DO need the mbr to be written correctly.

When Gparted runs, it has to update the first sector (to add the partition table...) but how does it do that without overwriting the mbr? Or does it rewrite the 446 bytes without changing them?

ETP wrote:
In conclusion it works at a very fundemental level, all BIOSs being happy to boot from a hard disc and size is not an issue.
I guess that there are also a variety of modern bioses that "support" usb boot and yet vary in their implementation too.
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shinobar


Joined: 28 May 2009
Posts: 2385
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Mon 14 May 2012, 19:02    Post subject: Gparted and MBR  

greengeek wrote:
I foolishly believed that the mbr was written by Gparted. .

Right. Gparted manages the partition table and flags, does nothing for MBR.
As you know, the 1st sector contains partition table, flags, and MBR.
Gparted maybe makes a copy of the MBR and write back to the 1st sector with the new partition table and flags.

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ETP


Joined: 19 Oct 2010
Posts: 486
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jun 2012, 15:22    Post subject: Saluki and Lucid 525 / 528 USB Boot freeze.  

I am posting a copy of this email this for the sake of completeness:

Quote:
Greengeek:

I have given your suggestion a lot of thought but due to the number of variables involved think it best to continue to offer assistance on an ad hoc basis.

In the main these problems afflict pre 2007 motherboards with an AWARD or PHOENIX bios. A cosy cartel means that no bios updates are available. The problem is therefore an ever diminishing one as people renew their kit. In addition flash sticks use different inbuilt controllers and once again it is the older ones that can be problematic – some will never succumb to any technique. Post 2007 manufacturers seem to have settled on sticks presenting themselves as hard discs & the bios may have a specific option to boot from USB HDD.

With regard to the HP utility there are a number of different versions freely available on the web such as:
http://www.bay-wolf.com/usbmemstick.htm

Older versions may work better with old kit. In addition some sticks only respond if formatted as FAT rather than FAT32 as advised by bay-wolf. Another variable is the version of syslinux that is used. (Once again older may work, recent may not)

It is basically a matter of trying out all possible permutations with a particular PC AND a particular stick. What works for one stick may not work for another. I have found that in my case FAT32 only works for more recent sticks.

The syslinux part is pretty straightforward:
Download here:
http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/utils/boot/syslinux/

Instructions here:
http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/HowTos

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bigpup


Joined: 11 Oct 2009
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Location: Charleston S.C. USA

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jun 2012, 16:26    Post subject:  

Have you ever used Bootflash install Puppy to USB?
Usually at menu->Setup->Bootflash install Puppy to USB.

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