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Should we change the way we boot?


Some time ago somebody asked on our lists why didn't we made our cds behave
like the Windows cd do, in the sense that if you forget the cd in the drive
while rebooting the machine, and this one boots from the cd, if the user
doesn't touch the keyboard in a certain time, the boot continues from the
Hard Disk.

I have written an small assembler .cbt program today that if called from
syslinux, isolinux, ... boots from the HD, if that fails it tries with the
FD, and if that fails outputs a message saying that boot has failed and
waits for the user to hit a key and then reboots. The program is quite silly
(asembled with nasm takes 140 bytes right now) but can be extended to be
more verbose, to check if the read sectors have the 55AA mark, or whatever
we wish, in fact, sugestions are welcome (you can find the source code,
which is GPL, at manty.net/boothdfd.asm).

The idea would be to call this program on syslinux if the timeout of
syslinux expires, so that if the user has not touch any key before this
timeout, the boot continues from the HD.

The problem with this idea is that, to make the program run when syslinux
times out, this program must be syslinux default boot, and thus, if you just
hit enter or return, you'll end up booting from your HD instead of booting
the install, which is what we did up to now, and this can be confusing for
the people.

We have one thing that can help our users not to be confused because of this
change, and it is the new splash screen, being something new, people will
look at it and I suppose they'll read what we put under it, so if we put
there something like...

Press F1 for help, or ENTER to boot from HD or type "go" to install:

Or something even more short and clear, it shouldn't be confusing for them.

Another way to solve this, would be to change syslinux and isolinux to allow
two different defaults, one for the timeout (which in our case would be to
boot this program that boots from the HD) and another one for the case on
which people just hits enter.

There are even more posibilities, maybe modifying syslinux is not needed at
all to have a kernel and a .cbt called, maybe somebody with more knowledge
on syslinux can solve this with its config, or other ideas come up with a
good way around the problem, ...

Anyway, I'm not saying that we should change the way we boot, I'm just
exposing a posibility we have, that can of course be enhanced with ideas
from anybody, and that can be dropped into the basket if people doesn't like

If somebody wants to test all this, just nasm boothdfd.asm -o boothdfd.cbt
and set it as DEFAULT for syslinux, isolinux, pxelinux, ...

So, time for ideas, comments, ...

Manty/BestiaTester -> http://manty.net

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