Posts for the month of August 2009

My Dell XPS Gen 3 won't boot from CD-ROM!

To: Some friends of mine.

Any ideas on this head-scratcher?

My Dell XPS (getting really old, I know) won't boot from CD-ROM. I have tried 3-4 different CDs. One of the CDs has multiple boot images on it and none of them boot.

Here's the weird part - I can get the boot loaders to work! The Ghost ones will say "Loading PC-DOS..." and then the CD drive just stops spinning. The multiboot one gives me all the menus, but as soon as it tries to launch something, it hangs in the same way. Even good ol' DOS 6.22 says "Loading MS-DOS..." and hangs. I tried my CentOS 4 installer DVD - I get the boot menus, I type "linux rescue" and then it just sits there.

My config is multiple SATA drives and two PATA CDs. I have even disabled the master and then I have the same issue with the secondary (it won't touch the secondary if the master is enabled, even if no CD in master). Same thing.

And here it gets even weirder... I booted from a USB key with Ghost on it just fine; I'm doing my backups now. WTF?!?!

Various suggestions came back... then a few days later, I found the solution!

You've GOT to be shitting me... I fixed it!

http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&releaseid=R104585&SystemID=DIM_PNT_P4_XPS_G3&servicetag=&os=WW1&osl=en&deviceid=308&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=8&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=1&libid=1&fileid=135030

I didn't install this BIOS release from over 4 years ago (I have A06), but look at the changelog:

"1. Prevent boot issues when USB devices with media readers are present."

Lo and behold, I plugged my monitor in a few weeks ago. Which has a (useless) built-in USB hub and media reader! I never would've expected something like that to happen! So my guess is that the BIOS tries to enumerate the drives somehow to map to INT13 and hangs up! When I yanked the USB cable from the monitor, CDs booted just fine!!?!?

I thought the USB hub was useless before because it powers off with the monitor - now it is a downright HINDRANCE!

RPMBuild stupidity

OK, this just pisses me off. It's plain dumb - rpmbuild expands macros before stripping comments. So what happened to me today (and I wasted an hour on) was that a multi-line macro was being inserted into a comment!

Based on a quick search of bugzilla at readhat, I'm not the only one - see 74949 and 99100. They say WONTFIX but that's just dumb in my not-so-humble opinion.

So now you know. If you are making a spec file for an RPM:

%files
# %build

will screw you over like it did me. You need to:

%files
# %%build