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Ghost and DOS and USB HD (Read 6823 times)
svcguy
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Ghost and DOS and USB HD
Oct 19th, 2007 at 1:36am
 
Hello all,

I have an interesting problem that I'm looking for some help on.  I'm a field service techincan and some of our newer machines come with PC's in them.  These PC's vary in variety from custom built embedded PC's to full blown industrial PC's.  As we all know PC's occasionally fail and need to be reimaged.  My company's current solution for imaging is the use of built-in onboard compact flash cards and external CD\DVD drives.  Basically, I boot from this on-board compact flash which has MS-DOS or PC-DOS and Ghost 2003 on it.  I believe that the compact flash boot image is a standard Ghost created image with USB drivers (designed to be used to run the external optical drive).  My images come from DVDs or CDs.

Well, I hate lugging around another case filled with the DVD drive, its AC power brick and all the DVD's.  I have at my disposal a 2.5" 40GB external USB hard drive and I'd like to use it to hold all the images.  I'd like to be able to boot from the compact flash, see all the available images (currently about 6 ranging in size from 500MB to 2GB), pick the one I need and get to imaging.

Here's the problem.  The compact flash uses usbaspi.sys and di1000dd.sys for usb drivers.  This always works fine as far as 'seeing' my usb drive, but is limited to FAT16 partitions (correct?).  Since I have several images, I thought I could create a logical drive on an extended partion (2GB) for each different image (the largest image just does fit in a 2GB partition).  I'm having trouble with Ghost/DOS crashing.  DOS will just hang after accessing a certian amount of logical drives.  Ghost will either hang when I get to the imagle selection dialog box or print garbage on the screen (I've sometimes seen a 'divide overflow error').  Until recently, I thought that this might be a limitation of DOS (can't have more than X drives open at once), but I now believe this to be a memory problem.  There is no extended memory manager running, just himem.sys.

I'm trying to get this hard drive to work as explained above without modifing the compact flash in any way.  There are simply too many to update.  Also, the card in some flavors of PC that we use is extremely difficult to access (mobo must be removed), so carrying a pre-configured card is not really a possiblity.

I'm really looking to make sure that there isn't another way to accomplish what I'm trying to or a workaround for my current situation.  I realize this a somewhat odd and very specific situation, so I can definately explain more if needed.  This post is already long enough, so we'll use it as a start

Thanks,
Andy
 
 
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NightOwl
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Re: Ghost and DOS and USB HD
Reply #1 - Oct 19th, 2007 at 9:56am
 
svcguy

Quote:
I realize this a somewhat odd and very specific situation, so I can definately explain more if needed.

Indeed, *very specific*, but interesting!

How is it set up to allow for you to choose to boot from the flash card?

Do you then run Ghost manually?  Using a keyboard?

Can you press *F8* just as the system begins to boot to DOS and select *step-by-step confirmation* so that you pause for each step--what are the version numbers for *usbaspi.sys* and *di1000dd.sys*!?

How do you then *tell* the system to boot back to the main system?

It would be interesting to see the contents of *config.sys* and *autoexec.bat* on the flash card!

Quote:
Here's the problem.  The compact flash uses usbaspi.sys and di1000dd.sys for usb drivers.  This always works fine as far as 'seeing' my usb drive, but is limited to FAT16 partitions (correct?).

FAT32 should work okay, too!  Once Ghost's DOS interface is loaded, Ghost 2003 can both read from and write images to NTFS partitions as well.

Quote:
Since I have several images, I thought I could create a logical drive on an extended partion (2GB) for each different image (the largest image just does fit in a 2GB partition).

Is there a reason you need to create a separate *partition* for each image?  I routinely just use *sub-directories* for each separate image file--keeping the names under 8 characters to avoid DOS long name issues.

Quote:
I'm having trouble with Ghost/DOS crashing.  DOS will just hang after accessing a certian amount of logical drives.  Ghost will either hang when I get to the imagle selection dialog box or print garbage on the screen (I've sometimes seen a 'divide overflow error').  Until recently, I thought that this might be a limitation of DOS (can't have more than X drives open at once),

Does the *config.sys* on the flash card have the entry *lastdrive=z*--if not, then DOS may not be setting aside enough memory space to handle as many drive letters as you are creating!

If there is no reason you have to use separate partitions, I'd try having a single partition on the external USB HDD, and simply use sub-directories for the different image files.

Any help?!
 

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svcguy
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Re: Ghost and DOS and USB HD
Reply #2 - Oct 19th, 2007 at 5:15pm
 
Thanks for the quick reply!

Quote:
FAT32 should work okay, too!  Once Ghost's DOS interface is loaded, Ghost 2003 can both read from and write images to NTFS partitions as well.


Interesting.  When di1000dd.sys assigns drive letters to my partitions it always says it can't allocate the FAT32 partition.  Is there a size limit?  I was also not aware that Ghost can read NTFS partitions.

Quote:
Is there a reason you need to create a separate *partition* for each image?  I routinely just use *sub-directories* for each separate image file--keeping the names under 8 characters to avoid DOS long name issues.


The reason for the multiple partitons is to overcome what I thought was a FAT16 limit for the usb drivers.  di1000dd.sys will only allocate the FAT16 partitons as drives.  FAT16, of course, has a 2GB limit, and my images total roughly 10GB.

Quote:
How is it set up to allow for you to choose to boot from the flash card? Do you then run Ghost manually?  Using a keyboard? How do you then *tell* the system to boot back to the main system?


Switching is done via BIOS.  The flash card is always in the machine and BIOS treats it as on board IDE.  I boot with a keyboard, enter BIOS, enable the IDE channel, and maniuplate the boot sequence to boot from the CF card (seen by BIOS as HDD1).  The system will boot, assign the CF card to the c:\ drive and leave me at the command prompt.  Running Ghost (or in some cases, rebuilding the MBR, if that's all that takes) is all done with some old school DOS command prompt action.

Quote:
It would be interesting to see the contents of *config.sys* and *autoexec.bat* on the flash card!

config.sys
Code:
DOS=HIGH,UMB
LASTDRIVE = Z
FILES=30
DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS
devicehigh = C:\DOS\USBASPI.SYS /v /e /u
devicehigh = C:\DOS\DI1000DD.SYS
devicehigh = C:\DOS\USBCD.SYS /d:USBCD001


autoexec.bat
Code:
@echo off
PATH=C:\;C:\DOS
LH MSCDEX /D:USBCD001
SET TZ=GHO+06:00


Quote:
Can you press *F8* just as the system begins to boot to DOS and select *step-by-step confirmation* so that you pause for each step--what are the version numbers for *usbaspi.sys* and *di1000dd.sys*!?

usbaspi.sys is ver 2.15
di1000dd.sys is ver 2.00

I will give a go at trying FAT32 and NTFS partitions, but I've never been able to see them with this particular setup.  FWIW, the external USB HD is 40GB.  There is a primary partiton that is 25GB or so first (non-bootable) then an extended partition that is 2047.3MB x 6 = 12283.8MB with 6 2047.3MB logical drives on it.  I was considering switching this around to see if it has any effect.  I still think this is memory related though.  I'm going to look into FAT32/NTFS tonight, though.  I have a mini, unoffical, test lab setup in the basement with actual production PC's and CF cards.

Thanks,
Andy
 
 
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svcguy
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Re: Ghost and DOS and USB HD
Reply #3 - Oct 19th, 2007 at 6:24pm
 
Quote:
FAT32 should work okay, too!  Once Ghost's DOS interface is loaded, Ghost 2003 can both read from and write images to NTFS partitions as well.


I deleted the extended partiton, leaving just an NTFS partition, dropped an image on it and booted it up.

As I sit here and type, this I am successfully imaging from my hard drive. Grin

This has been a little pet project of mine for weeks and I cannot believe I was overlooking Captian Obvious Embarrassed  I simply believed that if I couldn't see it (the *.gho file) then certianly Ghost couldn't see it.  [Shaking my head].  Wow.

Now I'll just put the images back into the NTFS partiton that was already there that I use for other data, and create one FAT16 partition to toss some more DOS tools and utlities that aren't on the compact flash (like edit.exe Wink).

Now I have to get over a small hardware hurdle.  Our smaller "embedded" PC's have crappy power supplies and when I plug my HD in they freeze or reboot.  I've just about solved the problem with a powered USB hub.  Except that no matter what, if the HD is plugged into a USB port (powered hub or any other) during boot up (POST, specifically) the PC freezes.  I can get it to work if I let it boot and plug the HD just as usbaspi.sys begins searching for USB devices.  I think I'll write a little batch file to edit the config.sys to add the /w switch to usbaspi.sys and see how reliable it is.  Oh and ...

THANK YOU!!!


I can't believe how dumb I was...  I guess I just needed another set of eyes on it...
 
 
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NightOwl
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Re: Ghost and DOS and USB HD
Reply #4 - Oct 19th, 2007 at 6:26pm
 
svcguy

Quote:
When di1000dd.sys assigns drive letters to my partitions it always says it can't allocate the FAT32 partition.  Is there a size limit?

First--USB in DOS can be *hit-or-miss*--compatibility issues can bit you--there's a possibility that your external USB HDD is not working with the DOS drivers!  I have successfully used the Iomega USB HDD enclosure, and the Adaptec ACS-200 USB/Firewire Combo external enclosure.

I've not had size limit issues for FAT32 partitions--I've made them primary, multiple with FAT32 and NTFS mixed, and I've made the external drive totally an extended partition with logical drives contained within--no *formal* primary (partitioning a HDD as a totally extended partition--there is a 7.8 MB *primary* but unallocated space created in front of that extended partition--must be a partitioning requirement--it's always there!).  

Does the external HDD get hooked up directly to the controller port--or a hub?

Quote:
usbaspi.sys is ver 2.15

There is a more recent version:  v2.20, size=39,179, dated 11/07/2004

After clicking on the downloaded *.exe* file which extracts the enclosed files, you will find the *Usbaspi.sys* file in the *F2h* subdirectory.

Quote:
Switching is done via BIOS.  The flash card is always in the machine and BIOS treats it as on board IDE. I boot with a keyboard, enter BIOS, enable the IDE channel, and maniuplate the boot sequence to boot from the CF card (seen by BIOS as HDD1).  The system will boot, assign the CF card to the c:\ drive and leave me at the command prompt.  Running Ghost (or in some cases, rebuilding the MBR, if that's all that takes) is all done with some old school DOS command prompt action.

Ah...just jogged my memory--I suspect your problem may lie here!  The flash card reader is probably being mounted through a USB port--so the BIOS is already USB mass media aware--and I'll bet the DOS USB drivers are conflicting with the BIOS mounting of the USB mass media on the external HDD level.  

I would have to speculate that the USB optical drive is not effected because it's using a different resource pathway than the external USB HDD enclosure and so somehow avoids the problem!

If the *F8* step-by-step option works, you might try saying *No* when asked to load the following line:

devicehigh = C:\DOS\USBASPI.SYS /v /e /u

That DOS driver *mounts* the USB mass storage device (i.e. the external USB HDD)--but, your BIOS may have already done that--and loading the DOS driver may create a conflict!  Load all the other commands--does *DI1000DD.SYS* now assign drive letters?--see if you now have usable access!  You might also try saying *No* to the *DI1000DD.SYS* command load line--see if the BIOS sees the external HDD and assigns drive letters without the DOS drivers!

Point of order, if you do not load an UMB driver in DOS, such as *emm386.sys*, then in the *DOS=high,UMB* line--the *high* works because of the *himem.sys*, but the *UMB* does not work--there are no UMB's for DOS to use!

And, without UMB's--the *devicehigh* commands and the *LH* (loadhigh) command are ignored--no UMB's to use to load those programs *high*!  They are simply loaded *low*--no harm done!
 

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svcguy
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Re: Ghost and DOS and USB HD
Reply #5 - Oct 19th, 2007 at 6:35pm
 
I believe we were posting at the same time...

The main problem is pretty much solved although (did not know that Ghost can read NTFS partitions even though DOS cannot) the issue of why DOS/Ghost crashes when there are more that 3 or 4 drives still exists.  The CF is treated by BIOS as IDE somehow and therefore becomes a physical disk and isn't mass storage media at all.

As posted above, I'm going to create a utility partition on the HD.  It will be 2GB and FAT16, we'll see how DOS/GHOST respond to that.

But that will be a little later tonight, because I'm hungry and my pizza is on its way.

Again NightOwl, thank you!  I'll post results of some more experimenting later.

Andy
 
 
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Re: Ghost and DOS and USB HD
Reply #6 - Oct 19th, 2007 at 6:45pm
 
svcguy

Quote:
I believe we were posting at the same time...

Yup--we were!

Glad to hear it's working!  Still don't understand why the other partitions were not being mounted successfully--but, sounds like that's not an issue going forward

You're most welcome--interesting application for Ghost!
 

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Re: Ghost and DOS and USB HD
Reply #7 - Oct 19th, 2007 at 8:19pm
 
Quote:
Still don't understand why the other partitions were not being mounted successfully


Nor do I.  I'm going to tweak my setup here, and it will have at least one drive that I intend to use under DOS.  I really think this is some kind of memory problem.  DOS just doesn't have enough memory to keep track of 6 or 7 large drives.  I'd like to experiment and add EMM368.exe into the mix and see if it does the trick.  Hmm...
 
 
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