Hi Andrew,

> I have been trying to format a CF card to boot FreeDOS on an embedded
> PC/104 system. I have tried a lot of different methods to get the card and
> PC to work together, but have so far been unsuccessful. The closest I have
> got was using UNetBootin, but when I boot the system, I have to make a
> selection on how to boot every time. Since I am using an embedded system,
> this is not a desirable situation, since the unit will be operated without
> monitor or keyboard nearly 100% of the time.

I would suggest to partition your CF, using LBA-centric partition
types, for example "FAT16 above 32 MB" (DOS 4) or simply FAT32.

For making the disk bootable, you can use our SYS from DOS, or
use my sys-freedos-linux Perl script from Linux. I guess you may
be able to use it in Windows with some tweaking, too. What is
nice about the script is that you can override geometry and the
partition offset manually. A frequent cause of boot failure is
a mismatch between BIOS CHS geometry and the CHS geometry which
is stored in the boot sector. The BIOS disk numbers might also
be an issue, so my script also allows to override those. A more
general approach might be using GRUB4DOS which seems to be very
flexible and versatile, or the classic SYSLINUX.

> install FreeDOS on the card from my XP machine (via USB adapter)

Note that you can also get mechanical (no chips involved)
CF to IDE adapters, which can be useful for having more
harddisk style access. Many new BIOSes also make CF and
other media visible via int 13 as normal disks, although
this is sometimes limited to "if you booted from them".

Talking about the CHS versus LBA problem: Our SYS uses
boot sectors which autodetect what to use for FAT16, but
I think they auto-skip LBA if the drive number is 0 (A:).
For FAT32, SYS autodetects a choice at the moment when
you run SYS, but I hope future versions give you a way
for manual override. Windows might block our SYS from
the needed lowlevel access. There is some HP tool for
making USB sticks and other media bootable with DOS.
It includes explicit FreeDOS support but is a bit old.

> the CD and installing it that way, but it does not recognize the CF card

You could try the USB drivers of Georg Potthast or Bret Johnson
as recently discussed on the list :-). In particular the latter
supports int 13 access so our SYS should be happier with that.

> that way. I have also tried copying various FreeDOS images onto the card

Images are tricky - floppy images would at most work for
unpartitioned cards and I wonder what your BIOS will say
about a CF with ISO9660 filesystem... Best should be to
keep a normal partitioning scheme with LBA FAT partitions.

Of course you can use my Linux tool from any Linux Live CD
so you do not have to install Linux to any harddisk first.
It should be easy to find it by name (sys-freedos-linux).


PS: I also have a patched version of "makebootfat" somewhere,
or try the original - this tool does partitioning, formatting,
copying of files and writing of boot sectors all in one tool
but I do not know whether it has a nice Windows version...

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