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Creating a Bootable CD-ROM

Submitted by jroos on Thu, 12/07/2000 - 13:00

The directions for making a bootable were never obvious to me so I never did it. One day I decided I wanted a bootable CD and made several coasters in the process of trying to get it right. Hopefully my directions will help you save a couple bucks on blanks.

The directions that follow were written with Adaptec Easy CD Creator in mind. There are many CD burning packages available and there will be variations in procedure.

When you create a bootable CD, a boot image is created on the CD that the computer uses to boot up. The boot image is created from a floppy and behaves like a floppy. The image is opened in to memory just like a ram drive and uses the drive letter A:. There are a couple things to keep in mind when you are creating a bootable CD. The first thing is the format used on bootable CDs is ISO 9660, which means filenames can only be 8 characters long with a 3-character extension. If any file names are longer than that they will be truncated so they look like filena~1.txt. The second thing to remember is the CD-ROM drive still needs to have drivers loaded in order to use it. Without the CD-ROM drivers, the computer will only read the image information from the CD. The best way to make a bootable CD is to act like you're still using a floppy disk and CD. Set up a floppy to work with the CD as if it was a non-bootable CD. That means the floppy should be bootable and include the CD-ROM drivers, config.sys and autoexec.bat as well as any other files and drivers necessary to start the computer. Once you get everything set up all you have to do is burn the CD. If you use Easy CD creator it will ask you to insert a bootable floppy. Just add files to the CD and you're all set. The last thing to keep in mind is the computer must support booting from CD-ROM and the CD-ROM must be set to boot before hard drive otherwise it'll just ignore the CD and boot to the hard drive instead.

Modified 2000-12-07

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