Creating a bootable DOS USB key


Provided that your motherboard can boot off a USB key (all recent boards can), it's a convenient way to install a new host that doesn't have an optical drive by fetching files off a server.

Using Linux

  1. As of Feb 2007, Fedora is one of the few distros that offer an image, diskboot.img, that can be used to create a bootable USK key. Fetch this file from your favorite mirror
  2. Use "mount" to check which device the USB key uses, as most distros nowadays load drives automagically. The USB key is usually /dev/sda or /dev/sdb
  3. Run the following commands:

    umount /dev/sda
    dd if=diskboot.img of=/dev/sda
    sync; sync

  4. Connect the USB key to the new PC, and boot
  5. Go into the BIOS, and choose to boot from the USB-ZIP drive (if it fails, you can also try USB-HDD or USB-FDD, and see if it works better)

Using Windows

  1. Download a 98SE boot image
  2. Download and launch WinImage
  3. File > Open, with "All files (*.*)", and open the 98 EXE file
  4. Image > Extract to extract the contents into a directory. Remove stuff you don't need, such as Edit config.sys and autoexec.bat accordingly
  5. File > New; The default 1.44 format is fine
  6. File > Save As..., and save the project as .IMA
  7. Disk > Choose the USB drive
  8. Disk > Write. Click OK when told that WinImage will resize the image, since we're copying an image that was originally from a 1.44MB floppy to a USB drive that is bigger