Travelling at the speed of a floppy drive

This afternoon has been "one of those" afternoons. It started innocently enough when I checked my mail and my cables had arrived. I plugged a floppy drive into the Vortex86 and checked that I could boot off of it into DOS. All was well, if you ignore the fact that the only way I could get a) a floppy drive and b) a power supply to power it was to take the cover off of a 1U server box that I had laying around and use the PSU and floppy drive from that. What makes that even worse is the fact that because there's obviously a soft power switch on the motherboard somewhere I couldn't even disconnect the PSU from the motherboard in the 1U, I had to have it running with the cover open and all the fans screaming at me just so that I could use the PSU and the floppy - I really should get one of those nice pluggable PSUs that they rave about on HackADay every now and then.

Next on my list after booting from a floppy was to get to the point where I could restore the new R53 ghost image into the Vortex86. This took longer than expected when I realised that my copies of Ghost 2001 and Ghost 2002 would not work with the image... The ghost explorer tool with 2002 allowed me to explore the image but Ghost itself wouldnt work with it. So I bought a copy of Ghost 9 (looks like the year as the version fad is passing) which appears to be a completely different kind of program and which doesn't seem to support Linux images anymore, but which comes with Ghost 2003 which does (go figure)... But... Ghost 2003 refused to install on my main dev box, something to do with a windows installer mismatch that appears to be due to something from XP SP2, perhaps... Virtual machines to the rescue, but this time Virtual PC; I've been using Virtual PC for a while (it comes with my MSDN Universal sub) and I had a Win2k image that I installed Ghost 2003 onto... From there I made a boot disk, or two, or three, until I managed to get something that worked with the network card on the Vortex86 (it's a Realtec 8139) and also allowed me to connect to somewhere or something that I could put the ghost image on. There's a new option in Ghost 2003 that makes you a network boot disk that connects to a windows share (which saves you having to know all the "net use" stuff and saves you having to search around the web for someone who was clever enough to fit everything you need on a single floppy), except of course it wouldnt connect to my dev box as that doesn't have legacy transports enabled and so doesn't play nicely with non XP boxes - error 53, the network is busy (only it's not busy, it's just not bothering to listen to non XP boxes). I eventually worked out what was going on and connected to a share on my Win2k domain controller instead and all was well...

So now I was in a position to overwrite the hard disk on the Vortex86 with the new ghost image, only that's not how I work ;) Since trashing the disk on the Vortex86 would delay the project by a while I decided to test load the image onto a VMWare machine first... Please wait whilst more boot disks are made and tested...

By this point I'm fairly fed up with things that boot from floppy disks. It takes SO long. During one of the reboots I googled around and found this, WinImage, a program that can create an image file from a floppy (and much more) so that VMWare can boot from a nice fast floppy image rather than a real floppy drive... So I boot the VMWare box from the floppy image, connect to my domain controller, install the ghost image and reboot. It crashes because the kernel doesn't know about SCSI disks and the VMWare default was to make its hard disk a SCSI one... One new VMWare box later and I'm booting into X-Linux R53 under VMWare... Whilst this isn't going to help me a great deal as I need to get the new kernel working with real hardware that I can't emulate in VMWare at least it will speed up the initial games with LILO and booting into the new kernel, etc.

Once I was comfortable that I had all the tools in place I booted the Vortex86 and ghosted the new image onto it, rebooted and everything worked fine.


As an alternative to getting a pluggable PSU you may want to consider getting a "USB2 to IDE" adaptor (Maplin product code "A25AT") which comes with a power adaptor with a molex connector.

Then all ya need is a molex power connector adapter to a floppy drive power connector

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