Boot CDROM through GRUB

All latest computers can boot from CD when there is a bootable CDROM in the drive. It is the ability of the BIOS. But legacy PCs does not have that feature. Many operating systems provide bootable floppy for this purpose. But it is pain to prepare boot floppy for different operating systems. So we need a solution to address this issue.

Recently I tried install Slackware 11.0 with first CD, which is bootable. But my PC does not boot through CDROM, it skips CDROM goes to grub installed in first harddisk (Primary Master). But other bootable CDs works fine in my PC. This happens to only Slackware 11.0 CD-1 only (I have to check whether the culprit is Slackware CD or GnomeBaker, that is different story..). So my PC is not CD bootable atleast for this Slackware CD. Then I found the following method to solve this issue and it works like charm. This method is applicable for all legacy PCs which can’t boot from CDROM drive.

Step 1: Download the memdisk.bin from here or if you have syslinux installation, you can use the installed memdisk.bin.

Step 2: Download the sbootmgr.dsk from here or here or if you have any version of Slackware CD-1, /isolinux/sbootmgr/sbootmgr.dsk file you can use.

Step 3: Copy both memdisk.bin and sbootmgr.dsk in your grub existing grub installation path, /boot/grub.

Step 4: Add the following entry in your existing grub menu. Note: root(hd0,0) should be according to your configuration.

title CDROM


kernel /boot/grub/memdisk.bin

initrd /boot/grub/sbootmgr.dsk

Step 5: I hope you need not to run grub-install again. If necessary you can do.

Step 6: Reboot the machine.

Step 7: You can see an entry called CDROM in grub menu list. Select the entry. You will be shown boot device selection screen showing all your harddisk and CDROM drives. Insert your bootable CDROM in the CD Drive and select that drive from menu. Waavv..!! your machine is booted from that CD.

Yesterday I had a wonderful time in getting this done. Hope you too!

Share this post


  1. Awesome. I was looking for a way to do this and this worked perfectly. Thanks very much for posting it and keeping it up!


  2. How come there are other bootloaders that allow booting to a CD-ROM with no extra files? Is it that the functionality isn’t built into GRUB?

  3. Note sure what to do here:
    “Note: root(hd0,0) should be according to your configuration.”

    How do I work out what this should be?

    Otherwise a great walkthrough, and much appreciated.

  4. hi i installed grub and booted in windows xp. i then decided to partion my harddisk using manage harddisk option in mycomputer, when i re booted i got a err17. i can not even boot from my cd drive . (i tried to re install windows/linux). i am locked out… help

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *