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IBM T30 boots pc-dos but not ms-dos from memory key

Discussion in 'IBM Thinkpad' started by Michael Wileman, Nov 13, 2003.

  1. Has anyone managed to boot his or her own version of DOS from an IBM
    memory key? I have the 64MB version. If I run the IBM Boot Utility, it
    installs a version of PC-DOS (ibmbio.com and ibmdos.com), and this
    boots fine on my T30.

    If I boot from a Win98 formatted DOS floppy, then use that to
    partition and format the memory key, I get "Invalid system disk" on
    boot-up. I have tried several different ways of formatting and copying
    the system to the key, but the machine just doesn't want to recognize
    it as a boot device, even though it clearly accesses the key, and I
    can see the key if I boot from the floppy.

    Any ideas on this? The ibmdos is useless to me because it provides
    only the system files and command.com, no other utilities, and those
    from other versions won't work with it. I want to use the key to boot
    the dos network drivers and run ghost, partition magic, etc.

    Michael Wileman, Nov 13, 2003
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  2. Michael Wileman

    MAG Guest

    Although I don't have a solution, I am very interested in this thread,
    for the exact uses you describe.

    Have you tried creating a DOS boot image, then extracting the image to
    the memory key? Essentially, this is what I do to make a bootable CD and
    perhaps some variation on the theme will work here.

    I think there used to be some discussion of this on the IBM Thinkpad
    site forum, but that has been discontinued.

    MAG, Nov 15, 2003
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  3. In general, bootable USB flash drives either imitate bootable floppies
    or bootable hard drives or both. The IBM memory key seems only to be
    capable of imitating a hard drive. That is how the IBM boot utility
    sets it up. So setting up a boot floppy image as for a bootable CD
    either wouldn't work because of the size mismatch, or would transform
    your 64MB memory key into a 2.8MB (max) key.

    That said, maybe I will give it a try just to see what happens.

    Michael Wileman, Nov 15, 2003
  4. Michael Wileman

    MAG Guest


    Interesting. Thanks for the further discussion! I'm hoping to learn from
    this too.
    Just as clarification, the bootable floppy image method I use results in
    an "A:" volume being set up with a size of 1.4 MB and a separate volume
    with the remainder of the CD.

    But I see what you mean about the key being designed to emulate a hard
    drive. This surprised me since the T30 supports both USB floppy drives
    and USB hard drives so I assumed the memory key would be capable of
    acting like either.

    But who can fathom IBM? I understand only IBM brand memory keys are
    bootable at all, due to lockouts in the BIOS, unless I misunderstand it.
    How annoying.

    I know this might sound ridiculous, but have you tried IBM tech support?
    Any help there?

    MAG, Nov 15, 2003
  5. What app did you use to write the floppy image to your memory key?
    Winimage won't let me write to anything but a floppy drive.
    My experience with tech support on this sort of esoteric issue has
    been very unproductive. If anyone would like to provide a specific
    contact they think might be able to help, I'm ready to give it a try,
    but I'm not going to invest anything in going through the regular
    channels; I know they will just say that what I'm trying to do is not

    Their claim that their memory key is bootable is just a bit
    disingenuous, though. As far as I can tell, what they mean (but don't
    say) is that you can boot their one specific version of pc-dos, for
    which they provide only the boot files and command.com. For me this is
    essentially useless. If anyone knows where I can find the complete set
    of files (fdisk, format, himem, etc) for the version their boot
    utility loads onto the memory key, that would go a long way toward
    solving my problem.

    Michael Wileman, Nov 15, 2003
  6. Michael Wileman

    MAG Guest

    It's actually CD's I write the image to; I use Nero. I poked around to
    see if Nero 6 might contain some ability to work with memory keys, but
    so far no dice. Sorry.

    I'll keep poking around and post anything I find. If you find anything
    more out, please post it here as well.

    Fundamentally, unless there is a specific BIOS-level link to their PC-
    DOS, I can't imagine why the memory key wouldn't work with regular MS
    DOS. Probably there is a specific step that is needed to get it to work.

    MAG, Nov 15, 2003
  7. Yes, I make my own boot CD's this way, but it doesn't work for the
    memory key.
    Yes, I am an old DOS hand, and what you say should clearly be the
    case. IBM's utility is clearly doing something beyond simply
    formatting the memory key, and it's possible the key has some sort of
    hook which can only be accessed by the supplied utility.

    Perhaps looking at the key with a hex tool of some sort would give
    some hints. I, for one, am thinking about simply abandoning the IBM
    key and trying with a different one.

    Michael Wileman, Nov 16, 2003
  8. Michael Wileman

    MAG Guest

    Mike- Check around before you get a different one. I've heard reports
    that non-IBM branded ones don't boot. I don't know what the difference
    is, or why it should matter. There was some discussion on this on the
    IBM T-series forum. It's annoying that the forums (fora?) are now
    defunct. They were fairly useful until IBM scaled back the responses,
    and it was a good spot to talk to other users.

    MAG, Nov 16, 2003
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