CD app to USB thumbdrive

  • boutcrazy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

My subject says it all, and I need your help.

First, I'll be honest and say I know nothing about Linux, and since it is not required of me in my job to support Linux, my desire to learn all the ins and outs of it is really non-existent. I only want to find out how to make the subject line work, and be able to save the steps in case of program updates in the future. I also know the previous statement may not help in obtaining assistance here, but I did want to be upfront with everyone, so please at least review my scenario:

My job is to build and test PCs, running vendor-specific diagnostics on each. The diagnostics are on a CD, and I currently have table space to build and test 24 PCs at one time. However, more and more of our PCs are being built without CDROM or DVDROM drives. This requires me to attach an IDE CDROM drive to each of the 24 PCs to test. After testing, the CDROM drives must be disconnected and returned to the shelf. As you can imagine, this can become quite tedious when you are doing a run of 24 each day.

I've approached our software support group with the idea of placing these diags, which are linux-based, on a USB thumb drive, but they said they didn't have time for a project such as that, nor did they want to have to support such a venture in the future, in case the vendor releases a newer version of diagnostics.

I've been in contact with our PC vendor, and even though he knows our setup, what we do, and how we do it, all he says is "The diagnostics are only supported when run from a CD". So he is no help, either.

I'm not all that smart, but logically it seems to me that this is not an impossible task. If it is, please tell me so.

I've been searching the web for weeks, trying to find something that wouldn't be 57 miles over my head - like a "here's how it's done" for dummies, but can't seem to find such a thing.

So, I approached a friend of mine that has some knowledge of these things, and he has the thumb drive booting fine to a certain point, but then it goes out and looks for the diags on the CD. Of course, with no CD, it hangs. He has tested this approach by copying one of the files/folders from the original diagnostic CD over to a non-bootable CD, and then booting from the thumb. The thumb boots to a certain point, then apparently it is "told" to look for a CD. With the non-bootable CD, containing just that one folder, in the drive, apparently it then finds the file/folder it's looking for, and the program runs.

My question is, how do we go about finding out where this "mapping script" (I really don't know the correct term) is and changing it? In short, how do we tell the program "Don't look for the CD, look HERE on the thumb?" I want the program to run exactly like it does on the CD, except run it from the thumb. I know it's going to be slower, but it would be so much easier to insert 24 thumbs into 24 PCs, instead of hooking up 24 CDROM drives.

I've posted this same question on a couple of other forums, received some responses, but so far, it's a no go. In fact, someone on one of the other forums told me about this site, and said, if there is an answer, it will be here.

You guys are my last hope before I tell my boss to go ahead and order 24 USB CDROM drives, which is what our software support dept. advised. In my opinion, that solution isn't any better than what I'm already doing. The only difference is, I would leave the USB CDROM drives on the table and not have to return them to the shelf each time.

Thanks in advance for your patience, and any assistance.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • Don2007
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Post 3+ Months Ago

"He has tested this approach by copying one of the files/folders from the original diagnostic CD over to a non-bootable CD, and then booting from the thumb."

It seems to me all the files/folders have to be copied to a bootable thumb. Then it should all work as long as the BIOS accepts thumb drives in the boot sequence.
  • boutcrazy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hey Don,

All the files are on the thumb drive, but it still looks to the CD. I think it needs to be pointed to the thumb, but don't know how.

Thanks!
  • Don2007
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Ok, then look for an .ini file on the thumb drive.
  • boutcrazy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Don,

I really appreciate your time in addressing this.

The only ini file on the entire CD is a php.ini.

All the PCs I work with do have the option of selecting USB device as bootable, and also have the option of selecting the boot order.

Thanks again.
Craig
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Have you opened that .ini file? It's usually a .ini file that determines things like that but .sys or .bat can do the same. There can also be a jump in an .exe file, which is what I'm starting to think.

Have you tried to grep it? Let's say we think it's in that php.ini file so we run:
grep -e "Please insert the CD" php.ini
If it's found, then we know that's where it is.

Something similar can be done with .exe files using the strings command in Unix or Linux.

Is there a way that I can download what's on that CD? Most diagnostic programs are on the manufacturer's web site.
  • boutcrazy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Grep? Didn't know there was such a thing, but I can try.

Here's a link to the diag download...

http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/Te ... ir-45591-1

Thanks again for your help.
  • Don2007
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I need to know the exact message in the dialog box when it asks for the cd.

For example:
Please insert the CD called ___________
or whatever it is.
  • boutcrazy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I did d/l grep for Windows, and searched a couple times for this string, but never could find it.

Here's exactly how far the thumbdrive goes:


Loading HP Insight Diagnostics Offline CD. Please wait.
Boot:
Loading vmlinuz........
Loading initrd.img.................ready
Loading drivers...........
HP Insight Diagnostics has encountered a problem loading the CD.
It may be scratched or in a configuration that is unsupported.
Please reboot.


If there is anything that I have enough sense to do on this end, let me know.

Thanks again.
  • Don2007
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Let me try to grep that error message. It may take some time due to the fact that there are so many files to scan. The usr.iso file has to be copied into text first. which is no problem on my unix box.

I'll post back either way, success or not.
  • Don2007
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I grepped as much as I could and I found 5 or 10 other possible error messages except the one you posted. It seems to be coming from one of the 2 files mentioned just before you get the error, vmlinuz and initrd.img

You have one last hope. Somewhere in one of those files is the name of the guy who wrote the boot image. His name is H. Peter Anvin. I found an email address for him if you want to try it.

hpa@zytor.com
  • Janrocks
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I think this error is being caused by the menu path being hard coded into the boot files, or the files not being in the right place related to the boot image.

I'm no expert by any means on boot systems, or the methods for starting from usb (don't have anything modern enough) so I hit google and came up with the syslinux and isolinux wiki.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SYSLINUX

This slax page seems to hold a lot of hope.. the method to boot the thing looks very relevant. http://www.linux.com/articles/46267
  • Managedlinks
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Post 3+ Months Ago

The diagnostics program is most likely hardcoded to the cd drive. It expects but can't find the cd drive so it fails.

There may be ways around it. Without some serious experimentation I couldn't be sure.

One way is to create a virtual cd drive which contains the contents of the cd but is stored on the thumb drive. It is a concept I have toyed with lately for another project. You are looking at some serious time involved in creating such a tool. :(

Chris
  • boutcrazy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well guys, I sincerely appreciate all your hard work/suggestions/responses. What looked like, logically, to be a simple and easy task, has turned out to be not quite so easy, if not next to impossible.

I learned yesterday that the company I work for has an entire dept of linux people, dedicated to keeping the linux servers running. I'm going to email one of the guys over there as a last shot.

I'll also check into the virtual CD. I will also get with my director, and see if he can twist HP's arm and persuade them to put their diags into this new format I'm wanting.

I haven't given up yet, but, thanks to your knowledge and experience, I believe the light is fading.

Oh well, there are always USB CDROM drives I can use.

Many thanks again....this site is great!
Craig
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I may have been a bit presumptuous in my answer

on the thumbdrive or cd print out the file /etc/fstab
eg : cat /etc/fstab

that contains your mount points

It may be as simple as mounting the thumbdrive to the mount expected for the cd rom

of course it may not as well. We must remember this is a diagnostic tool and may well contain many non standard programs

this is what my fstab looks like
Code: [ Select ]
cat /etc/fstab
# This file is edited by fstab-sync - see 'man fstab-sync' for details
/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 /            ext3  defaults    1 1
LABEL=/boot       /boot          ext3  defaults    1 2
none          /dev/pts        devpts gid=5,mode=620 0 0
none          /dev/shm        tmpfs  defaults    0 0
none          /proc          proc  defaults    0 0
none          /sys          sysfs  defaults    0 0
/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol01 swap          swap  defaults    0 0
#/dev/hdd1       /olddrive        ext3  defaults    0 0
/dev/hdc        /media/cdrecorder    auto  pamconsole,exec,noauto,managed 0 0
  1. cat /etc/fstab
  2. # This file is edited by fstab-sync - see 'man fstab-sync' for details
  3. /dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 /            ext3  defaults    1 1
  4. LABEL=/boot       /boot          ext3  defaults    1 2
  5. none          /dev/pts        devpts gid=5,mode=620 0 0
  6. none          /dev/shm        tmpfs  defaults    0 0
  7. none          /proc          proc  defaults    0 0
  8. none          /sys          sysfs  defaults    0 0
  9. /dev/VolGroup00/LogVol01 swap          swap  defaults    0 0
  10. #/dev/hdd1       /olddrive        ext3  defaults    0 0
  11. /dev/hdc        /media/cdrecorder    auto  pamconsole,exec,noauto,managed 0 0


Notice the cd mounting instructions
You may be able to mount the USB device there instead. After all its just another storage device

I am not sure exactly how one would do it, sorry but my knowledge in this area is about an hours googling behind :)
  • AnarchY SI
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Post 3+ Months Ago

you'd just replace /dev/hdc with /dev/sda1/folder/desired

the flash drive should show up as sd# , you'd just have to find out if theres any other sata drives in the pc and if so, adjust the letter for the flash drive accordingly.
  • Janrocks
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I think we are making this harder than it should be.

I downloaded a copy of puppy and did a quick comparison.

The first step is to copy all the files from the cd to the stick. Here is where they have broken with tradition and used an isolinux folder,(maybe they are on root.. Borrowed xp machine and I have never used magiciso before.. little unsure.. it says it's a folder, but no little + unlike the compaq and rr-whatsit dirs.) but that shouldn't matter.. we can work inside it and see. If it does matter we can always put those files on the root of the stick.

from the slax page
Quote:
Now you need to copy some files in the folder /boot/ (not there.. in the isolinux folder, or root of iso) of the mounted pen drive to the root of the pen drive so you can boot from it:

cd /mnt/sda/boot/
cp vmlinuz /mnt/sda/
cp initrd.gz /mnt/sda/

Move to the directory where the memory stick is mounted -- in this case /mnt/sda/ -- and change the name of the file isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg. Edit the just-renamed syslinux.cfg and delete /boot/ or boot/ from the lines that contain vmlinuz and initrd.gz (not needed.. they are right here)-- for example, /boot/vmlinuz and /boot/initrd.gz. This changes the location of the files vmlinuz and initrd.gz, making them visible to the bootloader at the time of boot.


Looks easy enough... but we have an isolinux.bin file.. so I would be tempted to change it's name to isolinux.bak to get it out of the way before the next step. Don't think we need the boot.cat file either so try the same trick.

Quote:
Finally, use whereis to check whether you have Syslinux installed. If not, download and extract it to a directory, then run:

syslinux -s /dev/sda

Where /dev/sda is the location of your recent modified files.

Now, reboot your computer, enter the BIOS, and change the boot order. Set USB-ZIP as the first one,


And that should do it. good luck.

(now I confused myself too. If I had a usb bootable machine I would try it out to verify it will work that way.. I know what I'm getting at, even if nobody else understands me... :D suppose I should now take the iso I have on my stick home to my lovely debian box and check it out properly.. I forgot how nasty xp is to work with. :roll: )
  • boutcrazy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Janrocks,

Would be interested to know if you tried it on your debian box, and if it worked....

If so, I'll certainly try it on this end, although there will be plenty of questions from me....as I said, I'm a linux moron to say the least.

Thanks!
  • Janrocks
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well I've made a drive like I tried to explain earlier.

I can't boot my debian heap from it... no boot from usb or zip option in bios..

Only machine I have access to test with is an amd dual core, twin graphics and the whole shebang.. I have no idea if this software will boot that, but it's worth a go tomorrow when I have access to it.
  • boutcrazy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

You guys know how far I've got with this project. Maybe it would help to show you how I got this far.

Again, I know nothing about linux; I got these instructions from a co-worker of mine:

-----------------------------------------

1) Format your drive as FAT (I tried both FAT16 and FAT32. For this
application it doesn't appear to make any difference.)

2) Extract your iso so that your directory structure looks like
extractediso.jpg (can't figure out how to post the pic, but it shows the compaq folder, isolinux folder, and system file.)

3) Copy the system file to the root of your usb drive.

4) Copy the compaq folder to the root of your usb drive.

5) Copy all the files inside the isolinux folder to the root of your
usb drive.

6) Rename the file called isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg.

7) Download and save the syslinux.exe somewhere onto your PC.

Go out to a command prompt, navigate to where you saved the
syslinux.exe file and run the command syslinux -ma <usbdriveletter:>

When you're done, the root of your USB drive should look like
filelist.jpg (this pic shows the compaq folder, and the following files:
boot.cat
initrd.img
isolinux.bin
ldlinux.sys
packrd.sh
sample.msg
syslinux.cfg
system
unpackrd.sh
vmlinuz)

---------------------------------------

He tried it on a non-HP machine and thought that was why he was getting the error, but when I tried it on an HP machine, I got the same error. When I emailed him that I was getting the same error, he responded:

---------------------------------------

I think I know what's wrong. When this utility boots (anything
linux-based boots this way) it loads in stages roughly like this:

1) Load boot files
2) Load memory manager
3) Allocate memory for a RAM disk
4) Unzip operating system to RAM disk (that's what it's doing when you
see it loading a file called vmlinuz with all the dots scrolling across
the screen)
5) Plug-and-play all the hardware.

Once it flashes "ready" on the screen, the OS is loaded and all the
detectable devices have been detected. So it's working so far as making
the drive bootable and getting into linux.

When it goes to "Loading Drivers..." and hangs, that's when it's
kicking off the linux scripts to load the test modules and GUI parts of
the HP diagnostic program. There's some mapping information in these
files that tell the program to look to the CD-ROM drive for the files
that it needs. Since those files are present on CD but on our USB
drives, it hangs and then pops up the error that we're getting.

We'll mess with it some more next week. There might be a way to
redirect the program to look for the files on the USB drive instead of a
CD.

---------------------------------------

Haven't heard anything since.

I really appreciate all the time taken to get this to work. It isn't just anybody that would take the time to do this for someone they don't even know.

I sent an email to a supposedly linux guru in our server group. Told him what I was trying to do. He said he would help, but haven't heard from him since.

Thanks again.
  • delring
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I'm working on a very similar idea. We use the same software for testing systems, but we use a PXE setup for imaging/testing. We have most of our tools running across the network except for this one.

What I've done is expanded the initrd.img and mounted it with the loopback adapter. I then changed the fstab to mount an .iso of the disk from our server. I still get the same error message as boutcrazy.

I think once his issue gets solved, mine won't be far behind. But, if anyone has any ideas, I'm open to trying them.

Thanks.
  • Janrocks
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Still working on it.. Attempt 2 gave a similar error so looking now for the files that load the GUI .

Progress is slow because I only have one shot a day at booting the stick.

edit
attempt 3 also a fail (sorry.. I can't post any fail logs because it's not possible from a machine with only ntfs drives in it, and as it's not mine I can't do too much messing with it) Next move is to try a variant on this method http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/wiki/inde ... lash_Drive

edit 3/11

Sorry.. got totally buried in a heap of work. Haven't forgotten about the project, just lacking time to visit friend who has usb bootable hardware.

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