Adding new bootable ISO, IMG, IMA etc. images into /bootdisk

Post questions about how to make a customized SystemRescueCd, and if you have problems to install new packages. Please read the handbook first.
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Joined: 22 Sep 2010, 12:53

Adding new bootable ISO, IMG, IMA etc. images into /bootdisk

Postby tehdrama » 23 Sep 2010, 07:22

Yesterday I tried to find a way to customize my RescueCD 1.6 USB-stick with new bootable images in /bootdisk directory, which can be booted via the ‘Run system tools from floppy disk image...’ menu. Actually, it may be not only floppy-sized images and not only IMG.
I was surprised when searched for a solution at this forum and didn't find it, so I tried to google for it. After several hours of hard googling, editing syslinux.cfg, messing up with dd which I used to convert ISO to IMG and several reboots, I finally found the magic config strings. All thanks goes to ... samba.html .
So how to made a trick.
First of all copy your bootable images to /bootdisk directory in the root of RescueCD. No need to convert it from ISO to whatever else, if you sure it's really bootable. To check it's really bootable, burn it to an optical disk and try to boot a computer from it or use a virtual machine. If it does, it will boot from your RescueCD USB-stick after you properly configure it.
After copying images to bootdisk directory, declare it in /syslinux/syslinux.cfg.
Find a MENU TITLE F) Run system tools from floppy disk image... string and add the following snippet after it (it actually will be a RescueCD menu entry):

LABEL windows
MENU LABEL Windows 7 32 bit: some popular proprietary shit.
linux /syslinux/memdisk
append iso
initrd /bootdisk/en_windows_7_ultimate_x86_dvd_x15-65921.iso
Enough said.

Change appropriate sections to yours, of course. If it isn't ISO, change append section, and make sure you properly declared your image name at initrd section. And of course change the description to another of your choice. Add as many such entries as you wish. Avoid of using too long image's filenames (name in example works, though).
That's all! This method was tested on two different machines with three different ISO images: FreeDOS 1.0 official LiveCD image, Debian Squeeze NetInst business card and even Windows 7 32 bit and it works like a charm! For unknown reason I've got the 'not enough memory' error (after 10 minutes of booting) while trying to boot Windows 7 64 bit installer image (3.5 Gb) on the machine with 6 Gb of memory — seems like memdisk have some kind of a limitation on image size.
How it works. When you choose appropriate menu entry after you boot your customized RescueCD USB-stick, your ISO is loading into the system memory (with the help of memdisk tool). So, there are some limitations to size of image you want to boot. If you have just 2 Gb of system memory and want to load a Windows 7 installation disk, which is 2.5 Gb, you will obviously fail. Second, speed of the USB to memory data transfer during the image loading differs from machine to machine — on Asus P5Q Deluxe mobo I have to wait for approximately a 15 seconds to load a 152 MB FreeDOS image, when at machine with Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6 it was already 2 minutes with the same USB-stick! So, this booting method isn't capable for all.

Anyway, try it and decide it usable for you or not.

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