Black God

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!

13 comments for “Boot CDROM through GRUB

  1. pat5star
    May 3, 2009 at 5:21 am

    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. July 17, 2008 at 1:43 am

    i had to boot to a floppy a few days back, i forgot how slow they are !!!

  3. Name
    March 23, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    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?

  4. March 2, 2008 at 1:58 am

    thanks this help me a lot

  5. Valentino
    January 2, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    tried this on a macbook and …

    booted from cd but canceled grub’s disk mapping…

  6. civiXier
    December 7, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    You’ve just saved the life on one of my lappys. This worked like a charm, thanx :D

  7. Neil
    November 8, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Ok, just me being a bit dense. Must point to grub folder (hd0,4 for me).

  8. Neil
    November 8, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    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.

  9. kar
    October 25, 2007 at 8:35 am

    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

  10. ms-trex
    September 22, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Well man this is superb

  11. jameswillisisthebest
    September 9, 2007 at 1:39 am

    This is my first post
    just saying HI

  12. Simmel
    June 14, 2007 at 4:50 am

    Hi there,

    on this page might be an explanation why it didn’t work out. Could it be that your Pc is a little bit older?

    Just at the bottom it says:

    Note that the -boot-load-size 4 bit is required for compatibility with the BIOS on many older machines.

    Maybe you should try it out…

    C ya,

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