Section 2 - Technical Information

2.1 - What exactly do I need to create a bootable CD?

To be able to create a bootable CD, you will need the following:

1. A SCSI or IDE/ATAPI CD Recorder, with necessary hardware to run, e.g SCSI adapter

2. One blank CD-R.

3. CD-R Mastering software such as Adaptec Easy CD Pro, Easy CD Creator, Toast, Jam etc.

4. One spare 1.44MB floppy disk.

Note - You do not necessarily need the CD-R software to "create" the files needed for a bootable CD-ROM, as these can be created manually. See the links section for more details. However, you will need some kind of software to physically burn your CD.

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2.2 - Preparing for a bootable CD

A bootable CD requires a bootable "image". This image is where all the necessary system files are placed, such as device drivers etc. This is the first section your system looks at. This image is taken directly from a bootable floppy. If you don't know how to create a bootable floppy, read your DOS or Windows manual and come back later.

If you already know how to do this, I still recommend you read on. Once you have burned your CD, you can't edit your startup sequence! (Unless you used a CD-RW). So it pays to get it right first go. Consider the following:

1. Do I want a menu on my bootable CD? (See Section 3.2 for more details)

2. Do I want to be able to boot from SCSI or IDE CD-ROMS or both?

3. Is this CD going to be used for backup or rapidly building computer systems?

Each requires a little fiddling around. You may want all of the above i.e. when you boot the CD (on SCSI or IDE) you are given the choice of restoring the current system or running a certain program.

It should be explained here what happens when you boot a CD-ROM (on proper hardware). First of all, your CD-ROM drive will become your A:\ (floppy) drive and your floppy drive will be shifted to B:\. Now, the boot image is examined and the system boots up. A directory listing on A:\ will reveal all the files you placed on your boot floppy. Hence the size of your boot image is limited to 1.44MB. What's the point of that? Can't a CD hold 650MB? Yes it can, but the first 1.44MB is taken up with the boot image. To access the rest, you must include the real mode drivers necessary to access your CD-ROM, such as CDROM.SYS. and MSCDEX.EXE. Then and only then will you be able to access the rest of your CD via your next available drive letter.

This is most important. The following is a step by step walk through on how to create a bootable floppy that will allow you to do this, that will form the basis for your boot image on your CD.

1. Create a bootable floppy. This will transfer system files such as COMMAND.COM, IO.SYS. This can be done in DOS or in Windows 95.

2. Copy to this floppy, MSCDEX.EXE and your real mode drivers for your CD-ROM. These are normally supplied on disk when you purchased your CD-ROM. If you do not have these drivers click here to download generic drivers. (From the Windows 98 CD). It is recommended you read this section on how best to use them.

3. Modify your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files accordingly, so they load the drivers on startup. Click here to look at generic versions of these files.

4. Proceed to test your boot disk, as outlined in the following section.

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2.3 - Testing your boot configuration

The best way to test your configuration is to reboot your system, using this newly created boot floppy. Note any error messages. Fix any typos in your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. These are the most common mistakes. If you included the real mode drivers correctly, you should be able to access your CD-ROM. Place a CD in and test it.

For a final test, make all the files on the floppy read only. This can be done using Windows Explorer (Properties), or by issuing the following command at the DOS prompt:

ATTRIB A:\*.* +R

Or simply write protect your floppy. This test will determine whether any of your drivers write to the disk. If they do you will get errors when you boot the system. You want to get rid of such drivers as they will not work when they are placed on CD. If you get errors, click here to download some generic drivers.

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2.4 - Making the CD

The method I cover here is for people using Adaptec's Easy CD-Creator. I am aware of a few other methods and I will include them as time goes on. Please e-mail me if you wish to add another method.

1. Place your newly created and tested boot floppy in your floppy drive and start up Easy CD Creator.

2. Click File, CD Layout Properties. Change the volume name if you like, to say BOOTCD. Then click the Data Settings tab.

3. In the file system combo box, select ISO9660, then enable the Bootable checkbox by clicking it.

4. Then click OK. You will be prompted to put your bootable floppy in the drive. Click OK again.

5. Easy CD will read the boot information. Once done you should have two files in the CD Layout Window called BOOTCAT.BIN and BOOTIMG.BIN

6. Add any other files you wish to the CD. Note: These files can only be accessed when the real mode drivers fire up, assigning your CD-ROM to the next available drive letter.

7. Click the Record button on the toolbar to create your bootable CD.

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2.5 - How do I make a CD that can be booted in SCSI & IDE/ATAPI CD-ROMS?

Simply include device drivers for both types of device. If the driver doesn't find a supported device, it doesn't load. The best example of this multiple device support is the Windows 98 CD-ROM. Click here for more information.

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2.6 - How do I use my newly created boot CD?

First you must assess whether your system supports booting from CD. The easiest way is to place the CD in your CD drive (or CD recorder) and reboot your system. Usually there will be some indication that you are booting from CD.

If this doesn't happen, you may have to enable booting from CD for your system. For IDE CD-ROM drives, this is controlled by the BIOS. In your BIOS setup, there will be an item labelled "BOOT SEQUENCE" or similar. This usually reads A, C. Scroll through the options. Modern mother boards should be able to support a boot sequence of A, CD-ROM, C or equivalent. Check your mother board manual for details.

For SCSI CD-ROMS, you may need to change your boot sequence too. Another option in modern BIOSs is A, SCSI, C or equivalent. This option should be selected if you have an onboard SCSI controller.

If you have a separate SCSI card in your system, you should use that. Most Adaptec SCSI Cards have an inbuilt BIOS which allows you to enable booting from CD-ROM, such as the AHA-2940UW. Please refer to your SCSI card manual for further details.

After doing this, reboot your system and it should work.

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2.7 - How do I backup my system on to CD-R? NEW!

Backing up important system files is one of the more important things you can do. The great capacity and cheap media price makes CR-R backups very attractive. There are two types of backup that are possible using CD-R:

1. As needed basis - backup of basic datafiles not the underlying operating system files. This can be achieved by simply creating a regular CD. For incremental backups, Adaptec's Direct CD could be used (either with regular or rewritable discs).

2. System build bckup - is essentially a snapshot of your system as it stands and this 'image' is burned bit for bit to your disc. Then using certain software, this image can be restored, resetting the system to its original state. It is this type of backup that will be discussed in this section.

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2.7.1 - Software Required

I will be discussing the use of GHOST which is made by Ghost Software (recently acquired by Symantec).

GHOST is an acronym for General Hardware Oriented System Transfer. The latest demo version of GHOST can be downloaded from www.ghost.com (This section discusses using GHOST as it exists as version 5.0e)

The advantages of GHOST are:

1. Compression - By my own experiments, with the highest compression options and depending on the nature of the files you backup, approximately 1 gigabyte of information can be squeezed onto a 650MB CD-R! For most home systems, this is more than adequate to backup the operating system and a few applications.

2. Fast restoration - restoring a compressed image takes only minutes as compared to the long and tedious process of manually restoring a system by re-installing everything. For setting up multiple computers, this is a big advantage.

3. Dynamic HD resizing/formatting - GHOST takes care of setting up your HDD when restoring an image. This enables an image to be restored to a brand new, unformatted HDD without hassle.

The disadvantages of using GHOST are:

1. The main one is that GHOST doesn't support direct backup onto CD-R. Instead, the image has to be burned to your hard drive, then to your CD-R. So you need at least 650MB of free disc space and due to the nature of GHOST this space must be on a separate partition. For example, if you want to create an image of C: you must have 650MB (assuming it is for CD-R) on D: or another partition.

2. The demo copy of GHOST expires after 30 days. After this time, any files with a filedate over 30 days old cannot be added to an image or restored etc. So after you have evaluated GHOST, purchase the full version license.

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2.7.2 - I only have one partition. Can I still use GHOST?

Yes. However it requires making a partition if you have space or installing another hard drive.

As re-partitioning an existing system with FDISK, deletes all your data, I recommend that you use an 'on-the-fly' partitioning program such as Power Quest's Partition Magic 3.0 or similar utility. This allows you to easily resize your existing partition and create a new one without having to destroy your data. WARNING - If you are new to such a program, read all associated documentation as data can still be unintentionally deleted!

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2.7.3 - Creating an image with GHOST

1. If you haven't already done so, it is probably best to rebuild your system, manually. This ensures that everything is fresh and only the minimum files are installed, that no .DLLs etc are left over from deleted applications. After you have done this, setup your computer to your liking. Things such as screensavers, word processor settings and background images.

2. Reboot your machine into command prompt only or reboot using a boot disc. Then switch to the location where GHOST resides.

3. Fire up GHOST (type GHOST or GHOST5 or whatever your version is). You will be presented with the GHOST screen. The menu is in the same vein as the Windows 95/98 start menu.

4. Move up to Local and press the right arrow key to pop out the next menu. Select Partition then To image.

5. Select your disk drive. Then select the partition (in this case, C: which is partition number 1). You will then be prompted for a file name. Enter something like SYS.GHO. Then press enter. Select the highest compression setting and go! You now have an image.

6. Create a bootable CD as outlined in the rest of this FAQ, then add the GHOST image and GHOST to your CD.

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2.8 - How do I restore my system from CD-R? NEW!

If you created the 'GHOST CD' as per the instructions above, you have two methods which you can utilise to restore the image in the event that something goes wrong. (As it does with Windows95/98 from time to time :)

1. Manual restore - Basically you follow the reverse of the above process after you have booted from your CD

2. Automated restore - Fiddly to setup but the user only has to put the CD in their drive, start the computer, wait approximately 20 minutes and voila! The system is restored. This is great for computer retail outlets who want to supply their customers a disc that can get them out of trouble with minimal fuss. NB: - If you do this, you must adhere to Ghost Software's licensing agreement and the clauses that relate to distributing GHOST.

2.8.1 - Manual restore

1. Boot from your bootable CD. After all the APSI or IDE drivers have finished loading, switch to the detected CD drive. If you made the bootable CD correctly you should see GHOST.EXE and your image file (SYS.GHO) in the file listing.

2. Fire up GHOST. From the main menu select Local, Partition, From image.

3. Switch to your CD drive if necessary and select the image file. You will then be prompted for the target partition. Select number 1 (C:\ drive) and you will be notified that the existing partition will be overwritten.

4. Restore! Depending on the size of the image and the compression levels used, restoration takes approximately between 5 - 15 mins (Based on trials with an Intel Pentium 2 processor and Ultra DMA/33 HDD)

2.8.2 - Automated restore

To automatically restore a GHOST image file we will take advantage of its powerful command line interface. We will then execute GHOST from our bootcd's AUTOEXEC.BAT file. If you haven't already done so, you may want to peruse section 3.2 for a dissection of the AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files included with the Windows 98 installation CD.

1. The command line to restore a partition image to the first partition on the primary disk is pretty straight forward:

ghost.exe -clone, mode = pload, src = imagefile.gho, dst 1:1 -sure

The above command translates to: restore partition file from imagefile.gho to the first partition on the first disk drive, without prompting. (Where imagefile.gho is your image file). It also assumes that the image file is in the current directory. So when incorporating it into our AUTOEXEC.BAT on our boot CD, the following could be used:

X:
ghost.exe -clone, mode = pload, src = imagefile.gho, dst 1:1 -sure

Where X: is the letter of your CD drive.

2. Once you have modified your AUTOEXEC.BAT, it is advisable to test the restore procedure. You can follow the same method as outlined in section 2.3, just add the GHOST.EXE file to your floppy and substitute X: for the drive letter of your HDD partition where your image file resides.

3. Create the bootable CD and place GHOST.EXE and your image file in the root directory of the CD. Don't forget to change X: to your CD drive letter.

This method works where the drive letter doesn't change. But if you take your CD and try it in a different computer where the CD drive letter is different, the automated restoration won't work.

So how do you get around this? You need to return the drive letter of the CD drive. Then in your AUTOEXEC.BAT, you switch to the returned drive letter. There are two methods of returning the drive letter:

1. Utilising FINDCD.EXE. Examine sections 3.2 for a breakdown on how this is used and the read section 3.3 for info on how to alter FINDCD.EXE for your own purposes.

2. Utilise the following batch file to return the CD letter - Thanks to John Finlay for this contribution! (You can either work it directly into your AUTOEXEC.BAT file or call it separately using the CALL command).

---------------------------------------------------------------BEGIN FINDDRV.BAT------------------------------------------------------------------------------

@echo off
if "%1" == "" goto :usage
REM find the first drive that contains the given file
if not "%1" == "}{" goto :doit
set FINDDRV=%2
goto :end
:doit
set fname=%1
for %%d in (c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u w x y z) do if exist %%d:%fname% %0 }{ %%d:
goto :end
:usage
echo "Usage: finddrv filename"
:end
set fname=

---------------------------------------------------------------END OF FINDDRV.BAT------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NB: - If you utilise John's method, I suggest you reverse the drive letters in the FOR, IN, DO statement, as most CD drives use the last driver letter available. Otherwise if you have a file with the same path and name on a drive preceding your CD drive, that drive letter will be returned instead.

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2.9 - How do I create multiple boot images on the one CD? NEW!

To me, making multiple boot CDs seems easier, as CD media is so cheap. But I have included this section to boost the 'completeness' of this FAQ.

As I have no real new, previously unpublished material on this topic, I have provided links to existing information. If people are unclear as to the information presented by the following links, please notify me and I will see if I can clarify it in this section in the next version of the FAQ.

How to Make a PC Bootable CD - by Tung Cheng Tsai. A very detailed, well presented page on how to manually create a boot CD. Well worth a look. For multiple image information, see the section entitled "How to use multiple bootable images".

Home of MKBOOTCD - Japanese site, unsure of the author. Haven't tried the utility personally, so any feedback would be appreciated. Looks like it can be used to automate multiple image CD creation as outlined in Cheng Tsai's page.

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damien.r.stewart@uts.edu.au