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Creating A Bootable CDROM


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Creating A Bootable CDROM


This tutorial is based on information gleaned from Bart Lagerweij's web page on building Bootable CD's. For advanced CD building topics and tutorials his is the place to go. A link to his web page is listed in the Required Software section below.

Required software:

  1. Ahead's Nero Burning Rom CDROM authoring software ( )
  2. Gilles Vollant's WinImage 5.0 or newer ( )
  3. A Windows Boot Disk or The_Village_Idiot's 2.88 MB Boot Image File
  4. Bart Lagerweij's MKBT 1.3 software used for creating and transferring boot sector images. Check the author's site for newer versions of MKBT and other cdrom authoring tools.

The_Village_Idiot's 2.88 MB Boot Image File.

Why a 2.88MB boot image?

Oh, that's simple. If you've ever tried to make a boot disk of your very own, you'd have found out that you just couldn't fit all the little programs onto it that you needed to make life easy.  This boot disk image is double the size of a normal boot disk letting you fit in twice as much.

What's in it?

Actually, nothing special at all.  It's a very basic boot disk image with the files listed below contained within it. Upon boot it will load a generic IDE cdrom driver, doskey, a mouse driver and smartdrv to help speed up disk and cd access by caching information.  These files take up about half of the 2.88MB diskette image leaving about 1.44 MB for your own files if you wish to inject them into the image using WinImage 5.0 - or you can just use the diskette image as-is.



- sets file attributes


- required boot file - executed on boot

- required boot file - command interpreter


- required boot file - loads memory and device drivers


- mouse driver for com and ps2 ports


- deletes directories

- allows for a command history to minimize retyping

- text editor


- text editor help file


- extracts files from MS CAB files


- partitions hard disks

- format drive partitions


- memory manager


- required boot file - part of operating system


- shows memory usage

- allows paging of text files


- cdrom extension - used to access cdrom drives


- required boot file - part of operating system


- generic IDE cdrom driver


- checks hard drive for errors


- used to restore corrupt registry with backup (Win98)


- drive caching program for faster disk access

- used to transfer OS files to make partitions bootable


- command line Zip archive extraction program


- copies directories and files within them


- support file for xcopy.exe


- command line zip program to create Zip archives

Making a Bootable CDROM - The Easy Way.

Download The_Village_Idiot's 2.88 MB Boot Image File and unzip it into a temporary working directory.

Start Nero Burning Rom. If the Wizard interface for creating CD pops up, click on the Close Wizard button to exit. The New Compilation window should now open

(click on an image to enlarge)

Down the left column, select CD-ROM [Boot]

Click on the Boot Tab and for Source of boot image data select Image File.

Click on the Browse button and find the 288.IMA file and select it.

Put a check mark next to Enable expert settings to enable these options.

For 'Kind of emulation' select Floppy Emulation 2.88MB from the available options.

Click on the Volume Descriptor Tab where you can enter copyright info and volume label information if you so desire. On newer versions of Nero, this tab has been renamed as Label.

Click on the Burn Tab and set any burning options you need here. Typically you may need to set the Write Speed to match your CD Burner and you may wish to uncheck Simulation to skip the Testing phase of the burn.

You have now completed creating the boot portion of your bootable CD. Click on the New button to go to Nero's file explorer and drag and drop the files which will make up the rest of the CD.

Once you have finished your CD layout, click on Nero's Burn icon to burn your cd to disk.

Making a Bootable CDROM - The Not-Quite-As-Easy Way.

This method actually details how to create your own boot disk image required to make the cdrom bootable.

Part 1.
(The Longish Way)

To make the boot disk image you'll need to have an existing boot disk. A windows boot disk is good.  You'll also need WinImage and MKBT (links above).  For this example our working directory will be d:temp.

Insert your existing boot disk into the floppy drive.

Open a DOS window, change to the directory where you have MKBT located and type the following command:    

     mkbt -c a: d:tempbootsect.bin

This should read the floppy disk in the a: drive and create a file called bootsect.bin in the specified directory. This is a required file.

(click on an image to enlarge)

Next, copy IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS and COMMAND.COM from the A: drive to the working directory.  These files are required.

Start WinImage. Click on File > New or press Ctrl-N to bring up the new image dialog.

Select a standard disk format - in this case, choose 2.88MB. Do not select a non-standard format since you will not be able to boot from these.

Click on File > Save or press Ctrl-S to save the disk image and choose a filename for it. We'll use 288.IMA - do not save it as a compressed image file (.IMZ).

Close the WinImage program or create a new image.
For the next step, the image file we just created cannot be in use by another program - in this case WinImage itself.

In the DOS window, type the following command:   

     mkbt bootsect.bin 288.ima

This will apply the bootsector image file we created in Step 2 to the disk image we created in Step 6.

Re-open the 288.IMA file in WinImage and drag and drop IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS and COMMAND.COM into the image. You will be prompted if you want to add these files.

You now have the basis for 2.88MB bootable dos diskette image. You can continue to add your own drivers, config.sys and autoexec.bat files to it until the drive image is full.  Save the image file to the working directory after you've added the files you want.

(The Short Way)

You could also have just used WinImage to open my existing 288.IMA file, dragged out everything you didn't want to be in it leaving just IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS and COMMAND.COM and then adding your own files - but where would the fun be in that? And would you understand how it was made?

Part 2.
(Making the Bootable CDROM)

Now that you have your custom boot disk image, you need to make the cdrom bootable and burn the data to disk.  To learn how to do this, jump back up the page to Making a Bootable CDROM - The Easy Way.  From here on out, everything is the same as detailed therein.


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