Creating a DOS Boot CD for a PC

It has been years since I faced the need to boot a PC without Windows up and running, in order to do some kind of hardware flash, and yesterday I decided to take the plunge. I had several Western Digital WD2002FYPS 2TB hard drives that were giving me fits and the information posted about a firmware update to go from 04.05G04 to 04.05G05 seemed like it would be worth a try.

I needed to run a file called 0405G05.exe in DOS with a file called 0405G05.bin in the same directory. At first I remembered that Windows XP would format a floppy and install a bare bones system on it thus making it bootable. Great, but then when I added up the sizes of the two files I needed after booting I remembered 2.1MB is a lot bigger than a 1.44MB floppy. (It really has been a long time since being in floppy world!) I then poked around with the idea of booting DOS from a CD. I found an image of DOS on the internet for a boot CD and thought I could just add my files to it, which I did, but when I booted I did not see them there. (Yes, they were on the CD but not visible from DOS – go figure that one) Replacing the CD after booting with one that only had my files did not work either. (It would not read the CD for some reason) I then toyed with using a USB drive to boot from but when I plugged in my multicard reader (as I had a spare 16MB CF card in my desk) I saw it mount with 4 drives instead of just the populated one. So I moved onto a single flash drive but it was 8GB big and only seemed to be able to format in FAT32 instead of FAT/FAT16. Needless to say I wasted several hours on it and was to lazy to even try to start editing CONFIG.SYS files on a floppy trying to get it to boot with CD support.

I was a Mac user lost in PC land and needed a real (not virtual) PC to flash my hard drives. After trying all of the above I found something that worked, and worked quite well, so without further talk of my trials and errors here is the solution:

  1. Download UBCD. Be sure to download it from the lost list of links as you scroll down the page and not to click on any misleading Google ads before the real downloads.
  2. Extract the files from the .iso into C:\UBCD. On a Mac this is easy (and the way I went about it), if you are stuck in PC land WinImage might be a good option.
  3. Extract the files you want to add into a directory within C:\UBCD\DOSAPPS. For the Western Digital firmware update I created a WD directory and placed 0405G05.bin and 0405G05.exe within it.
  4. Create an iso with the following commands:
  5. C:
  6. Burn the iso image to a CD with your favorite burning software
  7. Boot from the CD and navigate down the following prompts:
  8. DOS/Linux Boot Disks
    DOS Boot Disks
    FreeDOS Boot Disk V3.40
  9. Just hit Enter at all of the prompts to accept the defaults
  10. When you finally get to the DOS prompt:
  11. T:

Done! I wish Western Digital would just create a bootable iso for the flasher but without this shortcut available at least I now have a method in place for doing it again if needed, and yes, I am glad I still keep a PC hardware box in the house. Besides being a game host for the kids it still serves a cause when the hardware needs to be called on to work its ancient magic.