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All latest computers can boot from CD when there is a bootable CDROM in the drive. It is the ability of the BIOS. But legacy PCs does not have that feature. Many operating systems provide bootable floppy for this purpose. But it is pain to prepare boot floppy for different operating systems. So we need a solution to address this issue.

Recently I tried install Slackware 11.0 with first CD, which is bootable. But my PC does not boot through CDROM, it skips CDROM goes to grub installed in first harddisk (Primary Master). But other bootable CDs works fine in my PC. This happens to only Slackware 11.0 CD-1 only (I have to check whether the culprit is Slackware CD or GnomeBaker, that is different story..). So my PC is not CD bootable atleast for this Slackware CD. Then I found the following method to solve this issue and it works like charm. This method is applicable for all legacy PCs which can’t boot from CDROM drive.

Step 1: Download the memdisk.bin from here or if you have syslinux installation, you can use the installed memdisk.bin.

Step 2: Download the sbootmgr.dsk from here or here or if you have any version of Slackware CD-1, /isolinux/sbootmgr/sbootmgr.dsk file you can use.

Step 3: Copy both memdisk.bin and sbootmgr.dsk in your grub existing grub installation path, /boot/grub.

Step 4: Add the following entry in your existing grub menu. Note: root(hd0,0) should be according to your configuration.

title CDROM


kernel /boot/grub/memdisk.bin

initrd /boot/grub/sbootmgr.dsk

Step 5: I hope you need not to run grub-install again. If necessary you can do.

Step 6: Reboot the machine.

Step 7: You can see an entry called CDROM in grub menu list. Select the entry. You will be shown boot device selection screen showing all your harddisk and CDROM drives. Insert your bootable CDROM in the CD Drive and select that drive from menu. Waavv..!! your machine is booted from that CD.

Yesterday I had a wonderful time in getting this done. Hope you too!



  1. Hi there,

    on this page might be an explanation why it didn’t work out. Could it be that your Pc is a little bit older?

    Just at the bottom it says:

    Note that the -boot-load-size 4 bit is required for compatibility with the BIOS on many older machines.

    Maybe you should try it out…

    C ya,

    • jameswillisisthebest
    • Posted September 9, 2007 at 1:39 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    This is my first post
    just saying HI

  2. Well man this is superb

  3. hi i installed grub and booted in windows xp. i then decided to partion my harddisk using manage harddisk option in mycomputer, when i re booted i got a err17. i can not even boot from my cd drive . (i tried to re install windows/linux). i am locked out… help

  4. Note sure what to do here:
    “Note: root(hd0,0) should be according to your configuration.”

    How do I work out what this should be?

    Otherwise a great walkthrough, and much appreciated.

  5. Ok, just me being a bit dense. Must point to grub folder (hd0,4 for me).

  6. You’ve just saved the life on one of my lappys. This worked like a charm, thanx 😀

  7. tried this on a macbook and …

    booted from cd but canceled grub’s disk mapping…

  8. thanks this help me a lot

  9. How come there are other bootloaders that allow booting to a CD-ROM with no extra files? Is it that the functionality isn’t built into GRUB?

  10. i had to boot to a floppy a few days back, i forgot how slow they are !!!

    • Jan Piet Wielenga
    • Posted October 31, 2008 at 12:42 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Anybody knows a similar solution for USB CD-ROM Drive. (I hate VAIOs, especially when you don’t have their CD-Drive)

  11. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  12. Wow, it worked for me!

    A very old computer I’m trying to resurrect is booting Ubuntu 9.04 right now!

    And for people doubting what should they put in root (hdX,Y) since this works as adding another kernel for your already installed OS it should work to just add the same root line –in my case it’s (hd0,1)

    Easy and fast solution you posted. Thanks.

  13. Great Blogging!!
    Keep Your Good Work Going!!


  14. is there any way to do this for sd slot?

  15. Hi guys I am lost! I got the great idea to load Ubuntu on my hp laptop and did something that deleted all the partitions so nothing worked. I did not have the recovery disk from hp so ordered and in the mean time I installed ubuntu on the entire drive with nothing else. Now I have the disks but cannot boot to cd to do a system recovery. I have tried everything with ubuntu disk including deleting all partitions and I still cannot boot to cd except for ubuntu disk of course. I tried to drag the files you have listed memdisk.bin and sbootmgr.dsk to the boot/grub but says I don’t have permission. Can someone take extreme pity on my and give me detailed instructions I have no idea how to do anything and evidently I am not allowed to anyway and I am the only user I set up and I have to login but still not allowed to do anything. I really don’t want to go buy a new hard drive. Thanks

  16. Let me ad that every time i boot even to the hard drive i get error

    SMART Failure Predicted on Hard Disk 2: ST(!—(s1)
    Warning: Immediately back-up your data and repalce your hard disk drive. A failure may be imminente

    Press f1 to continue

    once i press f1 everything works fine and boots with not problem to hard drive ubuntu only

  17. Brilliant!!

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