When Linux won’t boot off DVD or USB

I went to install Linux (Debian) on an old Asus socket 775 motherboard (a P5LD2) and had a litany of problems getting my installation media to boot. Here’s how I finally got it installed.

First, I created a bootable USB stick, only to find the board wouldn’t boot off USB. There’s no USB option in the BIOS and it didn’t detect the drive as a hard drive or DVD drive even though there was an option to make USB emulate one or both of those.

So I went old school and burned a DVD. Not surprisingly, the DVD would boot, but once the kernel was up and running, it would complain it couldn’t find the DVD, or, worse yet, give me a kernel panic. Perhaps newer Linux kernels want SATA drives; this one was an IDE because I have tons of working IDE drives, no working SATA drives, and this board has both IDE and SATA ports.

The workaround I came up with was to plug in the USB stick and boot off the DVD. When the kernel went looking for the DVD drive it would never find, it found the USB stick and happily used it. That was fine with me; installation off flash memory is much faster than off DVD. I just wish it hadn’t taken me an hour to come up with this solution, but maybe by sharing I can save you an hour, and save you from meeting Colonel Panic. He’s not as likable as Tux.

But seriously, although the kernel panic was ominous, once I got Linux installed, the P5LD2 runs Linux pretty well. I haven’t had any crashes or any other odd behavior since.

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