If you are like me you might have an old computer or two lying around collecting dust that you hung on to just in case something happened to your newer faster system. OK, maybe more like four of them. Actually three and a laptop!
I hate parting with things like these that I used for so long. They are kind of like a piece of history to me, and a reminder of a different era almost. So, I hung on to a few.
Two desktops are completely home built. I also have a Hewlett Packard (HP) someone gave me that they were going to toss out, and I have a laptop I bought that I never got that much use out of. All of them are single core 32 bit systems that vary slightly in speed, memory, hard drive space, video cards, etc.
So, I thought hey I have all these old systems just sitting here I think I will download a few Linux distros and test some out.
Wouldn’t you know it the one I picked (the HP) has an old bios that doesn’t support booting from USB. Turns out my laptop won’t either.
What I like doing is burning a Linux .iso image to a USB flash drive. That way I can easily test other distros without wasting a bunch of blank DVD’s, and it will actually install much faster from a USB than it will on a DVD.
After doing a little research, it turns out there is a really nice utility called Plop Boot Manager that you can burn to a CD/DVD or even to a floppy disk (Remember them?).
This HP computer actually has a floppy drive in it, and I have a few old disks lying around too if you can believe that. I knew I hung on to them for a reason!
I actually burned the floppy image (.img) file with Linux.
First, I copied the floppy .img file to the Linux desktop.
Then in the terminal I changed the folder path to the desktop with:
Then to burn the actual image to the floppy I entered:
dd if=plpbt.img of=/dev/fd0 bs=1024 conv=sync ; sync
It takes a few minutes to do so.
To burn the image to a floppy with Windows you can use:
RawWrite for Windows
Afterwards I rebooted my computer and made sure the bios was set to boot from floppy first, and BINGO!
I just scroll down to USB with my keyboard, and push enter.
Now it loads right up and I can install Linux from the flash drive.
The Plop Boot Manager also includes an .iso that can be burned to a CD/DVD with just about any CD/DVD burning software (you probably already have on your computer). And, you could do the same thing. Just make sure that your bios is set to boot from CD first.
The Plop Boot Manager can be downloaded here:
And, additional information and reading here:
It’s also included in the Ultimate Boot CD, which includes tons of useful tools and utilities here:
Tips / Problems using Plop Boot Manager:
Originally I had a problem with it freezing up on me. To overcome this, I had to go into my system bios and set “USB Legacy Support” to Enabled/True/Yes, and I set “PNP OS” to Disabled/False/No.
Then, I unplugged all my USB devices (mouse, keyboard, external drives, flash drives, everything).
Once the bios was set and all USB devices were disconnected, then I turned on my computer (booting from the floppy) and waited until I saw the Plop Boot Manager screen. At that point I plugged in my keyboard, mouse, and flash drive I wanted to boot from, and selected the “USB” option.
Everything worked perfect. It just took a little time to figure out what I needed to set in the system bios, as well as unplugging all USB devices beforehand.
It definitely works, and works well. I’m sure the CD/DVD option works well too, and it would be the more common method as floppy disks are almost obsolete now.
So, if you have a computer with an old bios that doesn’t allow booting from a flash drive be sure to check out the Plop Boot Manager.
If you have a newer bios you shouldn’t need Plop, but you would want to select “USB-HDD” as the first boot device when booting from a flash drive.
Once you are done you can change your system bios settings back to the way they were.
This doesn’t take very long once you get the hang of it and understand the overall process.
Example No Boot From USB (USB-HDD) option:
Example with Boot From USB (USB-HDD) available (older bios system):
Example with Boot From USB (USB-HDD) available (newer bios system):