I formatted my ~200GB HDD with RMPrepUSB to FAT32 and with syslinux bootloader.

Used XBoot to "Create USB" with debian-6.0.6-amd64-netinst.iso inside.

In linux.cfg it shows up as:

MENU LABEL Debian 6 netinst x64 (debian-6.0.6-amd64-netinst)
LINUX /boot/syslinux/grub.exe
APPEND --config-file="ls /images/debian6x64netinst.iso || find --set-root /images/debian6x64netinst.iso;map --heads=0 --sectors-per-track=0 /images/debian6x64netinst.iso (0xff) || map --heads=0 --sectors-per-track=0 --mem /images/debian6x64netinst.iso (0xff);map --hook;chainloader (0xff)"

The problem is, when booting from it and trying to install, it refuses to continue install, as it "can't find CDROM".

Could you explain me why is it happening and what should be done, to solve?

PS: I want to create my universal USB-HDD, with many distros' inside, want to be able to boot from that and choose, which .iso to boot from, and XBoot looks just the piece of software, to achieve my needs.


Debian netinst is a bit special in regards to iso booting. The kernel on the ISO has zero support for filesystems and devices other than cdrom iso9660. It simply can not loop mount an ISO image. It can't even mount an ext2 partition from a local drive because pretty much everything is missing. With Debian when you download a CD image it really is CD only.

However for the Debian netinst there is a simple solution: Debian offers a different kernel and initrd for that which can be booted directly using any bootloader of your choice. No need for the ISO.

You can find these files here:



Example boot entry for grub2: (linux and initrd.gz renamed accordingly)

    menuentry "Debian squeeze amd64 netinst" {
        linux /debian/squeeze-amd64-linux
        initrd /debian/squeeze-amd64-initrd

That boots into a netinstaller which just works without CD.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks for the post. I have made a long way before I understood that neither hd-media kernel nor debian-x-i386-netinst.iso image cannot mount FAT32 partitions, thus can't be used for USB booting for big flash drives. – dma_k Jun 15 '14 at 19:10

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