Creating a DOS Boot Diskette



There has been a lot of interest lately in older computer hardware. All the older computers I have contain a floppy disk drive. Besides having files archived to floppy, I also use some DOS utilities at times. The purpose of this article is to describe how to create a DOS floppy boot diskette, from within PCLinuxOS, to which you can add small utilities designed to work from DOS. Such tools as System Analyser ( or a BIOS upgrade can be used in this fashion. Most users will have an old MS boot diskette around somewhere, but these are usually full and other utilities cannot be added without deleting something. In this exercise we will create a DOS boot diskette using "free" software.


The first thing to do is acquire a floppy image file. You can download a suitable one from For this exercise, the zipped file FDOEM.144.imz is suitable. Create a directory called "bootdisk" on your desktop. Download FDOEM.144.imz into the "bootdisk" directory. Using Ark, extract the file FDOEM.144 from FDOEM.144.imz to /home/<your_user_name>/desktop/bootdisk. Next, place a floppy diskette in the floppy drive and without mounting it, right click on the floppy icon (on your desktop) and format it as Primary, 3.5 inch 1.44 MB, DOS, using Full Format. Give it a label if you wish. It is a good idea to verify the integrity of the diskette also.

Please be aware that all previous content of the floppy will be irretrievably lost when you do this!

So now we have a prepared floppy diskette and a boot image for it. The next job is to "burn" the image to the floppy. As with bootable CDs, it is not sufficient to copy the file to the media. To "burn" the image, open File Manager-Super User Mode and navigate to the directory containing the floppy boot image file FDOEM.144. Select Tools -> Open Terminal and a terminal will open with root privileges. Be careful what you type in here as any instruction you input will be carried out, even if it means destroying the operating system. With the unmounted floppy in the drive, type in the following and finish by pressing the 'enter' key.

dd if=FDOEM.144 of=/dev/fd0

Be aware that Linux is case sensitive, so be sure to type the file name exactly as it is saved on your system. If your floppy drive is mounted at somewhere other than /dev/fd0, then use what is suitable for your system, in its place.

This command should cause the floppy to be written to. It will take a few minutes to complete, so give it time and wait for the prompt to re-appear. You should now have a bootable floppy and I suggest you re-boot your computer, with the BIOS set to boot the floppy first, to check that all is OK. If it is, you should be greeted with the A> prompt after booting. All that remains is to re-boot with the floppy extracted, and when in PCLinuxOS you can add whatever program/utility you wish to the floppy, for use the next time you boot it.