|I got it to work, but it took me about five hours of research and trial and error, burning a lot of coasters along the way. |
The bottom line is that while it is easy to create a single bootable floppy to a CD using Nero or MagicISO, it becomes significantly more difficult when the program you are trying to boot into requires more than one floppy. The reason for this is that when you transfer a bootable floppy to a bootable CD, anything larger than what would fit on a single floppy disk will corrupt the bootable image on the CD because the CD is trying to emulate a floppy disk, which is only 1.44 MB.
Here is the way to get around it.
When you create a bootable CD from a bootable floppy using Nero or MagicISO or the like, the bootable floppy image is stored in a special file on the CD called BOOTIMG.BIN. This file is invisible to Windows, which is why the CD will look blank when you attempt to examine it in Windows Explorer. When the CD boots, it loads this image and assigns it an A: drive, essentially tricking the computer and the program into thinking that it is really booting from a floppy.
Anything that can fit on the initial bootable floppy can fit in this image file. Anything that cannot fit (essentially, the files on floppy disks 2, 3, etc.) must be added to the CD using your ISO manipulation software; HOWEVER, these files cannot be put inside the floppy image itself or, as stated, the image will be corrupted and the CD simply won't boot. Instead, they must be added "outside" of the bootable floppy image.
Knowing that is the first hurdle. There is a second.
The problem is that once you've created your bootable CD from a disk image and added the necessary files from the remaining disks, once you boot the CD to the emulated A: drive, you are normally "stuck" within the floppy image, or A: drive. You will not be able to see the CDROM drive letter to be able to access the files you added outside of the floppy image unless you load old-school CD-ROM drivers.
I got around this by copying the MSCDEX.EXE and OAKCDROM.SYS files from a Windows 98 boot disk onto the program's first floppy disk. I then modified the program's AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files to include the necessary entries to load the CD-ROM drive and assign it a letter.
It worked. The CD booted using A: drive emulation. During the boot process it loaded its own CD-ROM drivers and gave itself a drive letter. Once fully booted and sitting at an A: prompt, all I had to do was change over to the CD-ROM's drive letter and run the remaining files. If you want, you can modify the AUTOEXEC.BAT file to do this for you manually, creating a truly unattended boot into your program.
Special thanks go out to Abhinav Kaiser from Tech Pedia and "tcsenter" from AnandTech forums. The links that provided me the "ah ha" moments are here:
-Paul Ronco, Computer Technician