The Haiku/BeOS Tip Server
Tips and tricks for Haiku/BeOS users

Creating BeOS boot floppies

Contributed by: Scot Hacker, William Dell Wisner, John Brajkovic
This tip is valid for: Both BeOS and Haiku

Update: If you install BeOS Personal Edition from within Windows, you’ll find a Windows “Create Boot Floppy” utility in the BeOS program group. Otherwise, use the notes below.

Note: If you don’t have a BeOS boot floppy already and can’t boot your system normally to create one, you can download the floppy image from ftp.be.com/pub/beos_updates/.

In R4.5, creating extra BeOS boot floppies becomes a lot easier than it was in the past. Insert a floppy, open a Terminal window, and type:

makebootfloppy -cd

This will create a boot floppy capable of booting either from your hard disk or from the BeOS CD. If you leave off the -cd flag, the floppy will be created much more quickly, but will only be capable of booting from hard disk. If you want to create a floppy that boots only from a specific partition, use the -base flag, e.g.:

makebootfloppy -base /gorgonzola

This floppy will attempt to boot from your /gorgonzola partition even if it’s not your main boot partition. You can also use the -preserve option to leave a copy of the boot image in /tmp (only valid when used with the -cd flag).

William Dell Wisner contributes this undocumented tidbit:

The standard makebootfloppy command tries to create the boot floppy image to /dev/disk/floppy/raw. If you want to write a boot image to some sort of removable media, such as a Zip or LS-120 drive, use the undocumented -image flag. For example:

makebootfloppy -cd -image /dev/disk/ide/atapi/0/slave/0/raw

Alternatively, if you want to create an image from an existing floppy rather than from the boot image on your hard drive, you can simply do:

cat /dev/disk/floppy/raw > image.img

and then write image.img to a new floppy with:

cat image.img > /dev/disk/floppy/raw

This is a good way to get around having to remember all of the dd commands shown below.

If you need to make the floppy from within Windows, insert the BeOS CD and a floppy and navigate to Win95/BeOS on the CD. Click Make.bat and sit back.

The following instructions are left over from versions of BeOS prior to R4.5.


It’s a good idea to make a backup copy of your BeOS boot floppy — you never know when you might need it. You can do this by creating a raw disk image either from the file /boot/beos/system/zbeos or from the original floppy itself (the zbeos method is easier). You can create boot floppies from within Windows, Linux, or BeOS. While you can’t boot a more recent version of BeOS with an older boot floppy, you can always use the latest boot floppy to boot older versions of BeOS.

From within BeOS, you can use the dd command. To create a copy of the image on the floppy from withIn BeOS, do the following.

– open a Terminal window
– insert the boot floppy
– type “dd if=/dev/disk/floppy/raw of=bootflop.img”
– wait for the copy to finish and remove the boot floppy
– insert a blank formatted disk
– type “dd if=bootflop.img of=/dev/disk/floppy/raw”
– wait for the copy to finish. You now have a copy of your bootfloppy.

To create a copy of the zbeos image from within BeOS, do this:

– open a Terminal window
– insert a floppy you don’t mind overwriting
– type “dd if=/system/zbeos of=/dev/disk/floppy/raw”
– wait for the copy to finish. You now have a copy of your bootfloppy.

The second method will also create a bootable floppy, without requiring
to read the bootfloppy first.

The same technique works from within Linux. To create a boot floppy from within Windows, search the net for a tool called rawrite.exe and run according to its included instructions. Alternatively, launch a DOS session and type DiskCopy a: b: (swap SOURCE and DESTINATION as needed).

See also: Creating BeOS boot floppies, pt. II.

Posted in Miscellaneous


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