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I'm just a visitor trying to understand syslinux... This article could be the poster child for Linux inbreeding: Linux geeks writing documentation for other Linux geeks. The next step is to make it clearer by doubling the amount of text. This article is on its way to becoming what all Linux documentation becomes: A mass of verbiage that talks around subjects while avoiding making concise statements. My question is this: Is there a Linux gene that kills carriers who pay attention in English class or does understanding English grammar inoculate one against Linux disease?

...And please don't say "fix it yourself". I don't understand the subject. I recognize poorly worded text but I can't fix it. The next commentator apparently has some knowledge and is making some cogent points, but he or she is just nibbling around the edges. I'm going to stop this comment at this point. Otherwise I'll become pedantic and write a long critique of the text, and I don't have the time.

The section "Creating a Bootable Disk" begins with...

Installing SYSLINUX will alter the boot sector on the disk, and copy a file named LDLINUX.SYS into the root directory.

At boot time, by default, the kernel will be loaded from the image named LINUX on the boot disk. This default can be changed, see the section on the SYSLINUX config file.

In order to create a bootable disk using SYSLINUX, prepare a normal MS-DOS formatted disk. Copy one or more Linux kernel files to it, then execute...
  1. Will the file named LDLINUX.SYS be placed in the file system that contains the SYSLINUX configuration file? Or will it be placed in the root directory of the file system hierarchy? How will SYSLINUX determine which partition holds the root directory?
  2. What is the significance/function of the file named LDLINUX.SYS? It's not mentioned anywhere else in the page.
  3. Will the kernel image named LINUX be created by SYSLINUX? Where should the kernel image be located?
  4. What is a normal MS-DOS formatted disk? Could a FAT32-formatted partition (e.g., on a USB thumb drive) be used?
  5. What about an initial ramdisk? Should one be copied to the FAT32-formatted partition (along with a suitable kernel image)?

I believe that it might make more sense to readers if the prerequisites are stated first (e.g., a FAT32-formatted partition, a suitable kernel and initial ramdisk) and then the directions follow afterwards. e.g.,


  1. A device (e.g., USB thumb drive) with a FAT32-formatted partition.
  2. A suitable kernel and initial ramdisk for the operating system to be bootstrapped.

Basic Installation

  1. Copy the SYSLINUX configuration file (SYSLINUX.cfg) to the partition holding the FAT32 file system (or create a SYSLINUX configuration file).
  2. Copy a linux kernel and initial ramdisk to the partition holding the FAT32 file system.
  3. Execute the following commands...
    1. MS-DOS
    2. Windows NT/2000/XP
    3. Linux

Document Conventions

Capitalized terms are used throughout the page without any explanation of their usage: Some are variable references and others are conversational shorthand for files (e.g., the term LINUX is used as a reference to both the configuration keyword and the kernel image file itself). In at least one instance the capitalized term SYSLINUX.CFG is used as a reference to the configuration file syslinux.cfg without any explanation that SYSLINUX.CFG is a variable reference to [any one of] the three configuration files:

  • /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg
  • /syslinux/syslinux.cfg
  • /syslinux.cfg

Establishing, documenting, and adhering to document conventions will make it easier for readers to understand the information in the document. e.g., The first section of the first chapter of most Red Hat documentation and the first chapter of every Oreilly book outlines the typographic standards "used to highlight certain words and phrases and draw attention to specific pieces of information".