Simon’s Backup Weblog


Using USB CD-ROM drives in DOS on a Toshiba Portege R100

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 29, 2006

I know we’re not the only folks around with a Toshiba Portege R100

A failed software install left ours blue-screening on boot due to a corrupted driver. While we’ve got a USB DVD drive in the house, the R100 doesn’t support USB CD or DVD booting. I’ve spent a goodly chunk of the afternoon trying to find someway of getting it to work.

DUSE, the DOS USB project doesn’t work with the R100’s USB hardware (though it may well for many other platforms). However, I was able to track down a site with a copy of Toshiba’s own recovery boot floppy software – which is conspicuously absent from the UK site.

You’ll probably need to add files like SMARTDRV to the disk just to be sure…

It’s not just for recovering Windows installs – you can also use it to install Linux or any other OS on your laptop. OpenSolaris, anyone?

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5 Responses to 'Using USB CD-ROM drives in DOS on a Toshiba Portege R100'

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  1. autopope said,

    The R100 is just a 1GHz version of the P2000, right? (That’s the 750MHz one.)

    Purely by coincidence I was getting my Portege P2000 out of storage the other week so I could install Linux on it — I want a junker notebook to hand for those annoying US visits, just in case there’s another outbreak of security theatre and I have to throw my lappie in the hold luggage (don’t want to do that to a Macbook Pro!) — and I had reason to discover that it can indeed boot from a PCMCIA CD or DVD drive. The P2000 and P2010 are the immediate predecessors to your R100, and they didn’t bother revving the case or the display, so I strongly suspect that your R100 should be similar. The P2000 can’t boot off USB devices, and this may be the source of your problems (assuming the family relationship).

    All you need to get it up and running again is an old PCMCIA interface CD or DVD drive.

    The trick to boot the P2000 from CD is (a) plug the thing in, then as it powers up hit the “escape” key and right-arrow over until the CD icon on screen has a red underline. Then hit return.

    (If you need to, ping me and I’ll fedex you my P2000 emergency reinstall CD set. In *real* emergency, I can send you a drive as well — as long as I get it back.)

  2. marypcb said,

    ta! yes, the R100 is the Celeron rev of the P2000 and only boots from a PC Card optical drive (the R200 has the same limitation in all but the 1,5GHz version). We got the CD drive talking and went as far as we could before discovering that setup just wasn’t going to play nice with the hard drive and giving up; no data lives on there and it’s (hah) only time to reinstall all of my apps (sob).

  3. marypcb said,

    In case anyone is trying to do the same thing in the future, these are the steps.

    Get a USB floppy drive and a floppy boot disk ( with the 6-floppy set from the Microsoft site you won’t need the CD drive but who has 6 floppies still lying around? we could only scavenge two)

    The boot disk needs a few extras.
    SMARTDRV to speed up XP setup or any other programs you run.
    If you want to access an NTFS drive, get a copy of NTFSDOS from http://www.sysinternals.com. This can run in AUTOEXEC.BAT or from the command prompt.
    To access the USB CD drive with the Toshiba recovery floppy, you need a RAM drive. The MS RAM drive loads into the first available drive letter and you can’t specific a letter (http://users.cybercity.dk/~bse26236/batutil/help/RAMDRI_S.HTM\). Either make sure NTSFDOS loads first and takes the C drive or use a RAM disk like XMSDSK that lets you specify what drive letter to put the RAM disk on (and edit the AUTOEXEC.BAT and RECOVER.BAT files on the Toshiba floppy to make it use that drive letter). Get XMSDSK from http://www.uwe-sieber.de/files/xmsdsk.zip but use the instructions from http://www.mdgx.com/newtip12.htm#RAM as they’re clearer than the README (basically, load it in AUTOEXEC.BAT to be able to specify the drive letter).

    You can’t just run SETUP.EXE to load Windows XP. Instead you need to CD to I386 and run WINNT.EXE.

    My theory is this should allow a repair install. We couldn’t test this as the NTFS drive mounted but with no space free (last time I checked it had 3GB free!). Instead we let the recovery floppy load the recovery CD and blow its little brains out…

  4. autopope said,

    Let me just add, my P2000 is happily running Fedora Core 5 like a dream. Minor headaches at the install stage were solved by doing it over ftp from a file server, and once installed … well, I had to comment out one line in a config file (to stop it shutting down automatically after waking from sleep), and then everything was Just Fine™. (I’d rate the install as no harder than WinXP; XP sometimes works okay, but more often, doesn’t.) Stick hot-swappable hardware in? It just works. Connect to a Wifi network? No problems. Battery power management handling both batteries (internal and external)? Yup. They’ve been making progress with desktop linux while I’ve been on OS/X vacation …

  5. anonymous said,

    Hi Autopope,

    I’m interested in the reinstall CD set. I’ve bought a P2000 without them. But it IS possible to boot from USB. I booted from a USB floppy drive, copied DOS, Ghost, Ghost USB-drivers and DevLoad (http://www.infradead.org/devload/) to my HD, removed the USB floppy drive, connected an USB harddisk, loaded the required drivers with DevLoad and YES!, I could make an image… (the supplied Ghost drivers crash when an USB floppy drive is detected).

    Couldn’t figure out how to send you a private email. Please reply to “richard 54321 (at) hotmail . com”

    ps Did you visit the SF WorldCon in The Hague years ago?


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