Last Review: 2014-Apr-10


How to install an Operating System with Floppy Boot only

2014 April

Now that Windows XP support has ended there are plenty of older machines which need urgently a new Operating System. Recently I met a splendid former server machine running Windows XP but, having an old BIOS, not beeing able to boot from CD or USB media. This machine can easily run a Linux distribution, but there are no floppys available to install one. Here is a way to get the job done:

Use Smart Boot Manager to fire up your machine

Smart Boot Manager is a specialized boot floppy which directly starts into a menu presenting the physical drives of your computer for selection. After selecting one, open the Main Menu by pressing the TAB key and then select "Boot it" and your machine will start booting from the selected disk (don't forget to insert media). I tested this with several Linux and a Windows 7 installation DVDs. Have a look at the following screenshot:

Screenshot Smart Boot Manager
Screenshot Smart Boot Manager, 2014-April-10

To create a Smart Boot Manager disk you need the corresponding image file (smb.bin), a floppy disk, a floppy drive and the dd (part of Linux distribution) respectivly dd for windows program. To create your boot disk open a console and type:
fillerdd if=smb.bin of=device_name

filler The string device_name should be replaced by one fitting your operating system's specifications. Usually the device_name is /dev/fd0 on Linux or \\.\a: on Windows. Here is a sample output of dd for windows taken from an Windows XP screen:

Screenshot dd for windows
Screenshot dd for windows, 2014-April-10

Download Smart Boot Manager and dd for windows

Download sbm image file Download dd for windows
Smart Boot Manager image file
dd for Windows