Hard Drive Images

Creating a DOS hard drive under Linux is annoying at times. Formatting the flash on the Aquapad would be tons easier if it had a CD-ROM or maybe even just a floppy. As it is, you need to rip out your flash and stick it in another card reader to begin the process.

Even the people who are doing this upgrading under Windows might want some assistance, and so I have collected my experiences here.

Using FreeDOS should work, but I haven't been able to spend enough time to do so, so I just gave up and decided to use a M$ boot disk I had handy.

Linux Instructions

We will make a hard drive image on the computer and then copy it to the CompactFlash. This is due to the lack of drivers for DOS to read/write CompactFlash drives.

  1. Find a Compact Flash card that doesn't contain any vital information -- it will be erased soon.
  2. You have two routes – either download and extract a bootable hard drive image or make one yourself with the instructions below.
  3. Copy the hard drive image to the CompactFlash (/dev/sda is the address of my CompactFlash reader; yours might differ):
    dd if=blank.hd0 of=/dev/sda

    Insert the CompactFlash into the Aquapad and plug in a USB keyboard. Boot into the BIOS (press Page Up – ignore the message that says to press Del). Use the automatic configuration to identify the second hard drive, then set the tablet up to boot from the second hard drive.

  4. Reboot and you should boot to a command prompt. If not, you could have a dozen problems. Your image could be wrong/corrupt, the CompactFlash could be misidentified or have a different number of heads/tracks/cylinders. Or, what frustrated me to no end, you might not have identified the CompactFlash before saying to boot to the second drive.
  5. At this point, you merely need to mount the CompactFlash card and copy over whatever files are required for the BIOS update. They should run by themselves when you power on the Aquapad.

Also, if you want further information about how to create and mount the hard drive image under Linux, make sure to check the Disk Images Under Linux page.

Windows 98 Instructions

This is a bit easier because you aren't trying to install a foreign OS under another OS.

  • Stick the CompactFlash card in the reader. It should show up as a drive on your computer. Mine shows up as J:, so I'll use that in my examples.
  • Go to DOS by clicking on Start, Run. Type in command to get a DOS shell.
  • Wipe off the CompactFlash and make it bootable with this command. If your CompactFlash is 1 gig or bigger, I might suggest using /FS:FAT32 instead of /FS:FAT (try FAT first, just in case you need to use that one).
    format J: /FS:FAT /V:BLANK /Q /S
  • To copy files in, just stick it in your CF reader and treat it like a normal disk.

Other Operating Systems

You're probably stuck. Windows 2000 (and NT, if I recall) and foreward don't have the "sys" command and don't let you specify "/s" to format. Possible options include:

  • Pop in a spare hard drive, install Windows 98 on it, follow the Windows 98 Instructions.
  • Download a Linux Live CD (there's MANY, I suggest Knoppix or a derivative), boot to it, follow the Linux instructions.
  • Download QEMU to set up a hard drive image. Head over to Free OS Zoo for QEMU downloads for various platforms.

Obtaining an Image of the Compact Flash Card

Want to make an exact copy of the Compact Flash card? Need the original images so that you can install and upgrade your own applications? Here you go. Information for this process originally came from Pavel Tkatchouk.

  1. Dissassemble the AquaPad. Remove the Compact Flash card and walk over to your other computer with the Compact Flash reader. My reader mounts Compact Flash cards as /dev/sda.
  2. Disk /dev/sda: 1024 MB, 1024450560 bytes
    1 heads, 62 sectors/track, 32272 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 62 * 512 = 31744 bytes
       Device Boot    Start       End    Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sda1   *         2        88      2697   83  Linux
    /dev/sda2            89       175      2697   83  Linux
    /dev/sda3           176       180       155   83  Linux
    /dev/sda4           181      1015     25885   83  Linux
    Check out the partitions on the card. For me, fdisk -l /dev/sda produces the results shown in the table to the right.
  3. Change to whatever directory that you want the files stored in.
    mkdir ~/aquapad; cd ~/aquapad
  4. Copy over the master boot record.
    dd if=/dev/sda of=MBR bs=512 count=1
  5. Copy over each hard drive image. You can use cp or dd. Just make sure that the sda1 image is the same size as the sda2 image, otherwise you will get problems. We know they are the same size because of the output from fdisk.
    dd if=/dev/sda1 of=/dev/sda1
    dd if=/dev/sda2 of=/dev/sda2
    dd if=/dev/sda3 of=/dev/sda3
    dd if=/dev/sda4 of=/dev/sda4
  6. Compress and copy the images elsewhere so that you always have a nice, clean install just in case something gets messed up. They really won't compress too well, but a k here and there add up.
  7. The images are separated in the above instructions because it is easier to work with them individually than all together. If you want an exact copy of the card you can just use dd if=/dev/sda of=CF_Copy.img

Making Your Own Image Under Linux

  1. Install Bochs.
  2. Find a Windows or DOS boot floppy. Insert it into your drive and copy the floppy image to your hard drive. Maybe a FreeDOS floppy will work for you; it didn't work for me.
    dd if=/dev/fd0 of=floppy.img
  3. Read the Bochs install instructions to set up a new 4 (or whatever) meg hard drive. You don't really need tons of space here. Also set up Bochs to use the floppy image as the A drive, boot from the A drive, and have the hard drive image as the C drive. Depending on your distribution, this could take minutes or hours. With Debian, just run Bochs and it will easily create a new hard drive for you.
  4. Boot the floppy image, fdisk the C drive, reboot.
  5. Boot the floppy again and add the bootable MBR: fdisk /MBR
  6. Format the hard drive, and add the system.
    format c: /S
  7. Shut down Bochs, and find your hard drive image. Mine is called guest.hd0.
    dd if=guest.hd0 of=/dev/sda
A god's idea of amusement: A game of Snakes and Ladders with greased rungs. Tyler Akins <>
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