Skip to content

boot error (USB boot)

Karmic Koala Alpha 6 was announced. That was an opportunity to see what was new. I also decided it was an opportunity to see if the 64 bit version was usable. So, I downloaded the ISO and used the System ‘USB Startup Disk Creator’ to make a bootable memory stick. The Core Solo machine presented the reminder that its CPU could not deal with 64 bit code. The Gateway Core 2 quad came up with a boot error.

When I hit a key at the boot error, the bios boot device switched to the hard drive and came up with Grub there. I referred to the earlier post Ubuntu USB boot problem workaround to find that the USB stick was called FD0 and trying to boot it under that name was a no-go. The ‘boot error’ message looked to be from the BIOS when it could not figure out how to boot the device.

Into the BIOS I went (after some I’net research that didn’t do more than confirm that others had had similar problems). The wireless USB keyboard on the machine seemed to get lost about halfway into trying some changes at times but, eventually, I found the option where it sets how to see a USB memory device. I changed it from ‘auto’ to the hard drive option and that fixed the problem.

Since all the BIOS should do is load the first sector and execute it, I don’t know why calling the device a floppy or a hard drive could make it bootable or not. There must be some difference between the boot sector on floppies and hard drives that confused the BIOS. A floppy does not have an MBR but rather short circuits that directly to the volume boot record. That is because a floppy is a one volume device without partitions like a hard drive has. Maybe the BIOS was doing some sort of sanity check like looking for a partition table depending upon the device type or seeing if values in the parameter block make sense. There is a table of such checks at

Grub4dos and Boot with GRUB provide some how-to’s for the Grub side of things.

At any rate, changing the BIOS so that it labeled the USB memory as a hard drive rather than a floppy drive solved the problem.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.