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Modboot logo (created by Henk)

MODBOOT - Bart's Modular Boot Disk

... This will give you real boot disk power ...

Version 2.6
Created: Nov 28, 2001
Last updated: Apr 7, 2003

Important notice: the development and maintenance for this page has stopped. Please don't contact me about this page! I'm leaving the page as it is, for reference...



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:: What is MODBOOT ?
:: How to create a MODBOOT disk
:: MODBOOT design rules
:: Module information
:: Frequent asked questions
:: Used files and information
:: Revision history

 What is MODBOOT ?



MODBOOT is modular boot disk. All programs and files are placed in modules. Adding functionally to your disk is as simple as copying one file (module) to the correct folder.
An example: to add Dos mouse support to your MODBOOT disk you just copy the module called "mouse.cab" to the "\level1" folder on your boot disk.
All MODBOOT modules are packed using cabinet (.cab) files so a MODBOOT disk can hold as much data as possible. To expand a .cab file you simply put it in the right folder and modboot will unpack it for you. When the .cab file has an "\autorun.bat" modboot will automatically execute it.

Danger! ...Once you get the hang of MODBOOT, you will
find yourself rewriting every bootdisk you have created...

Yes, a big warning here... When you do not have the time to go through your existing set of boot floppies and convert them into MODBOOT enabled disks then you must stop reading this page and come back when you do have that time. If you have seen a MODBOOT disk in action you are lost!

MODBOOT has a multi config.sys menu with 4 entries, so you'll need Dos 6.x or higher for this.

1. Boot with emm386 (most compatible)
2. Boot with emm386 (max memory)
3. Boot without emm386
4. Clean boot

What does an basic MODBOOT boot disk look like?

PathDescription
\bin Contains the needed tools for MODBOOT to operate:
  • xmsdsk.exe for creating a ramdisk
  • extract.exe for unpacking cab files
  • himem.sys, emm386.exe and ifshlp.sys used by config.sys
  • modboot.cab, holds kbfl.com, modboot.bat, run.bat and unpack.bat
\level0 All *.cab files in this folder will be expanded but nothing will be executed
Typically used for expanding programs that are needed by programs in a higher level.

Also known as "the level of no autorun"!
\level1 All *.cab files in this folder will be expanded, if the .cab file has an \autorun.bat it will be executed. When finished control returns back to modboot.
Typically used for expanding and running/installing programs that are needed by programs in a higher level.
\level2 Same as level1.
\level3 The first .cab file found in this folder will be expanded and if an \autorun.bat exists it will be run. Control will not be returned to MODBOOT!
Typically used to expand and run the final application, for example an end user menu.
This level should contain only one .cab file!

Also known as "the level of no return"!
\diskid.txt Contains a short description about the bootdisk in plain text. It is displayed during boot.
\lib Just a storage location (will not be unpacked by MODBOOT). Can be used to store .cab files that will be unpacked when needed.

The following environment variables are available within modboot:
NameDescription
%srcdrv%Source drive, the drive you have booted from
%ramdrv%Ram drive (default "Q:")

So when writing batch files on top of modboot, you should never use A: or Q: hardcoded! You should use the %srcdrv% and %ramdrv% variables instead.

 How to create a MODBOOT disk


Work from here if you want to manually create the boot disk. You must download each module separate and you will do all the work.
If you want to create the boot disk automated, with minimal file download, look here.
Windows 95 OSR2 or Windows 98 SE is recommended for creating a modboot disk (not Windows ME!).

The steps are:
  1. Format a bootable MS-Dos floppy diskette (version 6.x or higher required)
    format a: /u /s

  2. if drvspace.bin exists, delete it
    attrib -s -h -r a:\drvspace.bin
    del a:\drvspace.bin


  3. Create a "bin" directory and copy the following files to it:
    • himem.sys
    • emm386.exe
    • smartdrv.exe (optional, improves speed)
    	mkdir a:\bin
    	copy himem.sys a:\bin
    	copy emm386.exe a:\bin
    	copy smartdrv.exe a:\bin
    	

  4. Unpack the files from modboot26.zip (68KB) to the diskette
    Make sure you expand the subdirectories! So when using pkunzip.exe use the -d option!

I feel like building... What bootdisks are there using modboot technology?

From this site:
BFD - Build Floppy Disk
Bart's CD-Rom boot disk
Bart's Network boot disk
Bart's Scsitool Boot Disk

From other sites:
The 911 Rescue CD
FAV_BOOT: FreeDOS Antivirus Emergency boot disk by ROSE SWE

 MODBOOT design rules


MODBOOT design rules:

 Module information


Here is a list of all available modboot modules.
Please note: this list does not contain any network or aspi drivers...

help - Help module
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Group:option
Downloadable file:help.cab (1KB)
Default location:\level1

This module enables very simple help information to the user. It will provide a list with the available commands.

Sample help output
aspi     Load ASPI drivers
cdrom    Load CD-Rom drivers
help     Show this help information
menu     Modboot small menu system
msnet    Load Microsoft Network Client drivers
scsitool Generic scsi diagnostics utility
edit     Small text editor (terse)
vc       Volkov Commander v4

Modules that want to have help support must have a "help" directory containing a small text file called %modulename%.hlp.

Example:

Here are the files for the msnet module:
autorun.bat
bin\msnet.bat
help\msnet.hlp
menu\msnet.mnu

Sample MSNET.HLP
msnet    Load Microsoft Network Client drivers

Note! The description "Load Micro..." must start at column 10!
Note 2! Do not use a tab, use spaces!

mouse - Mouse support
Version:1.1
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Group:option
Downloadable file:mouse.cab (5KB)
Default location:\level1

cdautrun - CD-Rom autorun module
Version:1.1
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Downloadable file:cdautrun.cab (2KB)
Default location:\lib
Notes:Set's %cddrv% environment variable to point to the first CD-Rom. Also runs \autorun.bat when it is on any CD-Rom.

This module searches all CD-Rom drives (using findcd) for a file called "autorun.bat" and the first one found will be executed. If no autorun.bat file is found on any CD, then it will located the first CD-Rom drive letter that holds a readable media and the current working directory will be set to the root of this drive. If there is no CD-Rom drive found that has a media than it will just print the first CD-Rom drive letter.
Also an environment variable %cddrv% is created.

dos - Dos module (fdisk, format, xcopy...)
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Group:option
Default location:\level1
Notes:There is no file for download, you have to build this one yourself, just look here:
More information URL:/bootdisk/modboot/#dos

This module should contain several dos files like: fdisk, format, smartdrv, xcopy ...and so on...

Here are the steps:
  1. Download makev3.zip (59KB) and unpack it in some directory, in this example I will be using c:\modboot\makev3\
  2. Copy the Dos files you need into the directory "c:\modboot\makev3\source\dos\bin". Warning! You must use the same dos version as your boot files! Files to think off are: fdisk, format, doskey, xcopy
  3. Open a command prompt, goto the c:\modboot\makev3\ directory and run "make dos". If all goes OK, you can find your module as c:\modboot\makev3\cabs\dos.cab
  4. Just copy this file into the correct modboot level folder, for example "\level1"

xkeyb - Extended keyboard driver, like MS-KEYB
Version:1.0
Last updated:Jul 18, 2002
Group:option
Downloadable file:xkeyb.cab (21KB)
Default location:\level1
Notes:Written by Dietmar Hoehmann, maintained by Aitor Santamaria Merino. (GPL)
More information URL:http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/dos/xkeyb/

doskey - Free doskey
Version:1.0
Last updated:Jul 9, 2002
Group:option
Downloadable file:doskey.cab (5KB)
Default location:\level1
Notes:Doskey is written by Paul Houle.
More information URL:http://members.aol.com/paulhoule/doskey.htm

aspi - ASPI loader module
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Downloadable file:aspi.cab (2KB)
Default location:\lib
Notes:Bart: This module needs optimization, but it works OK!

aspicd - ASPI CD-Rom driver
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Downloadable file:aspicd.cab (10KB)
Default location:\lib

atapicd - ATAPI CD-Rom driver
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Downloadable file:atapicd.cab (6KB)
Default location:\lib
Notes:This module contains a Generic IDE/ATAPI CD-Rom driver called "vide-cdd.sys" (v2.14) from Acer Peripherals, Inc. It also supports UDMA drives.
More information URL:http://www.acercm.com.tw/global/service/cdr/drivers2.htm

eltorito - El-Torito CD-Rom driver
Version:1.4
Last updated:Jul 31, 2002
Downloadable file:eltorito.cab (2KB)
Default location:\lib
Notes:Only works when booted from CD-Rom in "no-emulation mode".
Not in floppy emulation mode!
v1.4 Major bugfix, see more info link.
More information URL:/eltorito/

cdrom - CD-Rom loader module
Version:2.2
Last updated:Jul 9, 2002
Downloadable file:cdrom.cab (3KB)
Default location:\level0
Notes:v2.2 Added eltorito.sys, easy customize screen and more.

elboot - CD-Rom loader module
Version:1.2
Last updated:Jun 27, 2002
Downloadable file:elboot.cab (3KB)
Default location:\level0
Notes:v1.1: Now using a new version of eltorito.sys (v1.2)
v1.2: New version of eltorito.sys (v1.3)

shsucdx - CD-Rom Extensions
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Group:cdredir
Downloadable file:shsucdx.cab (7KB)
Default location:\lib

mscdex - Microsoft CD-Rom Extensions
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2001
Group:cdredir
Downloadable file:mscdex.cab (14KB)
Default location:\lib

utils - Batch utilities
Version:1.8
Last updated:Aug 29, 2002
Downloadable file:utils.cab (34KB)
Default location:\level0
Notes:v1.7: lmod.com updated to v1.2.
v1.8: pciscan.exe updated to v1.5a.

Utils.cab uses the following tools:

menu - Menu module
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Downloadable file:menu.cab (1KB)
Default location:\level3

This module enables a small menu system to the user. It will provide a list with the available options.

Modules that want to have menu support must have a "menu" directory containing a small text file called %modulename%.mnu.

Example:

Here are the files for the msnet module:
autorun.bat
bin\msnet.bat
help\msnet.hlp
menu\msnet.mnu

Sample MSNET.MNU
Load CD-Rom drivers~%ramdrv%\bin\cdrom.bat

The first part "Load CD-Rom drivers" is the menu title and the second part (separated by a tilde "~") is the command to execute.

cdormenu - Autostart CD-Rom or Menu module
Version:1.1
Last updated:Jul 29, 2002
Downloadable file:cdormenu.cab (1KB)
Default location:\level3

This module gives you the option to bypass loading CD-Rom drivers and display the menu. After a 5 second timeout CD-Rom driver will be loaded. You can use this if you have a combined CD-Rom and network bootdisk.

msnet - MS network loader module
Version:2.7
Last updated:Sep 4, 2002
Downloadable file:msnet.cab (10KB)
Default location:\level0
Notes:For changes see:
More information URL:#history

msclient - MS client files
Version:1.2
Last updated:Aug 29, 2002
Downloadable file:msclient.cab (278KB)
Default location:\lib
Notes:v1.2: added bfind.exe

mstcp - MS TCP/IP module
Version:1.1
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Downloadable file:mstcp.cab (112KB)
Default location:\lib

msnwlink - MS NWLink module
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Downloadable file:msnwlink.cab (8KB)
Default location:\lib

whatnic - What (PCI) network adapter is in my system?
Version:1.x
Last updated:Always
Downloadable file:whatnic.cab (3KB)
Default location:\level0
Notes:Detect what driver plugin to use for your network adapter.
More information URL:/bootdisk/modboot/#whatnic

If you are unsure what network driver to use for your adapter, download whatnic.cab (3KB) and put in into \level1 of a basic modboot disk. Also download utils.cab (34KB) and put in into \level0. When booted from your modboot disk run "whatnic" at the command prompt.

sshdos - SSHDOS v0.91, secure shell to remote hosts
Version:1.2
Last updated:Apr 23, 2002
Downloadable file:sshdos.cab (64KB)
Default location:\lib
Notes:Writtten by Nagy Daniel. Use "run sshdos ..." to start.
More information URL:http://sshdos.sourceforge.net/

scpdos - SCPDOS v0.91, secure file transfer utility
Version:1.2
Last updated:Apr 23, 2002
Downloadable file:scpdos.cab (60KB)
Default location:\lib
Notes:Writtten by Nagy Daniel. Use "run scpdos ..." to start.
More information URL:http://sshdos.sourceforge.net/

scsitool - SCSITool module
Version:1.0
Last updated:Mar 26, 2002
Downloadable file:scsitool.cab (87KB)
Default location:\level3
More information URL:/scsitool/

 Frequent asked questions


  1. How do I create a 2.88MB modboot disk?
    Use my floppy builder (bfd) it can create that.

  2. Some .cab files fail to extract. I have tried downloading them many times but this has made no difference.

    Try to clear your browser/proxy/firewall cache and try again, or try to use a good download manager like flashget or so...
    Most users with problems are using netscape 4.x try to download using something else...

  3. The xmsdsk.exe (ramdrive application) does not seem to be able to function correctly on computers with more than 2GB of RAM. I keep getting the error "XMS get free mem error.".

    Yes, I think this is a bug in xmsdsk.exe the author (Franck Uberto) does not have a machine with this amount of memory, so it's not easy for him to fix it. But here is a workaround: Replace the himem.sys with himem.sys v3.10 (from Dos 6.22), this will provide 64MB XMS memory as the maximum and xmsdsk.exe will not fail.

    jun 16, 2003 - Updated note! Someone mailed me that removing the "/t" parameter for loading xmsdsk.exe solved his problem...

 Used files and information


Used files:

 Revision history


Sep 11, 2002: Change log for Modboot v2.6

Jul 19, 2002 - v2.4 Jul 11, 2002 - v2.3b Jul 9, 2002 - v2.3 May 22, 2002 - v2.2 Apr 16, 2002 - v2.1 Mar 26, 2002 - v2.0 Feb 18, 2002 Feb 15, 2002 - v1.04 Version 1.02 - minor changes

Version 1.0 - First public version (beta)


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