You’ve always got a trusty bootable USB flash drive with you to solve computer problems, but what if a PC’s BIOS won’t let you boot from USB? We’ll show you how to make a CD or floppy disk that will let you boot from your USB drive.
This boot menu, like many created before USB drives became cheap and commonplace, does not include an option to boot from a USB drive.
A piece of freeware called PLoP Boot Manager solves this problem, offering an image that can burned to a CD or put on a floppy disk, and enables you to boot to a variety of devices, including USB drives.
Put PLoP on a CD
PLoP comes as a zip file, which includes a variety of files. To put PLoP on a CD, you will need either plpbt.iso or plpbtnoemul.iso from that zip file. Either disc image should work on most computers, though if in doubt plpbtnoemul.iso should work “everywhere,” according to the readme included with PLoP Boot Manager.
Burn plpbtnoemul.iso or plpbt.iso to a CD and then skip to the “booting PLoP Boot Manager” section.
Put PLoP on a Floppy Disk
If your computer is old enough to still have a floppy drive, then you will need to put the contents of the plpbt.img image file found in PLoP’s zip file on a floppy disk.
To do this, we’ll use a freeware utility called RawWrite for Windows.
We aren’t fortunate enough to have a floppy drive installed, but if you do it should be listed in the Floppy drive drop-down box. Select your floppy drive, then click on the “…” button and browse to plpbt.img. Press the Write button to write PLoP boot manager to your floppy disk.
Booting PLoP Boot Manager
To boot PLoP, you will need to have your CD or floppy drive boot with higher precedence than your hard drive. In many cases, especially with floppy disks, this is done by default.
If the CD or floppy drive is not set to boot first, then you will need to access your BIOS’s boot menu, or the setup menu. The exact steps to do this vary depending on your BIOS – to get a detailed description of the process, search for your motherboard’s manual (or your laptop’s manual if you’re working with a laptop).
In general, however, as the computer boots up, some important keyboard strokes are noted somewhere prominent on the screen. In our case, they are at the bottom of the screen.
Press Escape to bring up the Boot Menu. Previously, we burned a CD with PLoP Boot Manager on it, so we will select the CD-ROM Drive option and hit Enter.
If your BIOS does not have a Boot Menu, then you will need to access the Setup menu and change the boot order to give the floppy disk or CD-ROM Drive higher precedence than the hard drive. Usually this setting is found in the “Boot” or “Advanced” section of the Setup menu.
If done correctly, PLoP Boot Manager will load up, giving a number of boot options.
Highlight USB and press Enter.
PLoP begins loading from the USB drive.
Despite our BIOS not having the option, we’re now booting using the USB drive, which in our case holds an Ubuntu Live CD!
This is a pretty geeky way to get your PC to boot from a USB…provided your computer still has a floppy drive. Of course if your BIOS won’t boot from a USB it probably has one…or you really need to update it.