You do not HAVE to use the SYSLINUX loader. I've been successful
using the El Torito standard (with 1.44 or 2.88 MByte) boot sectors
on CD's. The trick is getting a proper floppy disk image file.

That's correct. There are several bootloaders, and ofcourse there's always floppy emulation (720KB up to 2.88MB) and harddisk emulation.
Windows 98 cdrom uses floppy emulation. You'll need a normal cdrom driver for it, and the emulated diskette is read-only,
because the floppy image is located on cdrom.

I got the 2.88MByte boot disk image I'm using from
www.fdos.org/bootdisks. I mounted the image file
(using a program called VFD on Windows XP), configured it
the way I wanted it, and then used it to build an ISO file for
a bootable CD.

I'm using WinImage, it can create any regular size of diskette. Save the empty diskette image as a file, then use it with VFD
( http://chitchat.at.infoseek.co.jp/vmware/ ), Filedisk, RamdiskNT (Cenatek, shareware) or any other program that can mount floppy file as diskdrive.
Next, download a kernel package from www.fdos.org/kernel , unpack it to the floppy drive. Rename the .SYS file (about 44KB) to KERNEL.SYS.
Open up a command prompt, type the following to make the disk bootable: B:\SYS B: B: /BOOTONLY

Next, add your other files, and optionally (well..) create a config.sys and autoexec.bat

Most CD writing software allows you to enter a drive or imagefile as bootimage.

and the floppy disk image ends up mapped as A:, not C:
(which is where the boot device is if you use the ISOLINUX boot loader).

Isolinux bootloader allows normal disk emulation, but also loading an imagefile into RAMDISK, using a floppy image loader called MEMDISK.
In that case, the floppy contents becomes A:, and normal diskdrive becomes B:
CDrom will only be C: if you have no usable partitions for DOS (example: NTFS on harddisk, thus FreeDOS does not map a partition to 'C:').

No special drivers are required at all...it's just like booting from a
floppy. You don't even need a CD-ROM driver unless you want to
access more than 2.88 MBytes! :-) You don't need eltorito.sys or
anything else that you would not need for booting from a floppy disk.

Yes, to each their own way.
As you have Windows XP, you might find it interesting that you can create a LiveCD out of it:

I'm using Isolinux as primary bootloader to allow me to
-boot to harddisk
-boot Knoppix (Linux LiveCD)
-boot Windows2000 setup
-boot FreeDOS
-boot WindowsPE LiveCD
-boot ReactOS LiveCD
and so on.

Hope this helps.


Thanks for your detailed explanation, it will help people a lot in using a customised FreeDOS in their own way.


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