Booting from a floppy disk

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NOTE: You do not need to use a floppy disk to boot if you can get the processor class and speed from the POST information.

The WUZZIT disk

The WHAZIT disk allows us to do several things:

  • Test to see if the system can boot from the floppy
  • Assuming it does boot, it probes the system to gather information about the processor, the memory, and the hard drive. Therefore, it allows you to determine the processor class and speed when other methods fail.
  • It will "zap" (remove the partitions from) a hard drive for us, making it more difficult to boot from that drive in the future (which means people are less likely to see a donor's data).

If you are attempting to boot from the WHATZIT disk, the BIOS must be set to boot from the floppy first, and the floppy must be correctly hooked up and in working order.

  • If the WHUZZIT boot succeeds, there are three types of information displayed:
  • Processor. Note the processor class and speed on the labels. If it's a true Intel Pentium, you should be set. If it's an off brand, pay special attention to the CPU Family. A '4' indicates a 486 class machine, a '5' indicates a Pentium class machine, and a '6' indicates a Pentium Pro/Pentium II class machine.

The Memtest Disk


Sometimes, getting the WOTSIT disk to boot can be problematic to say the least. Here are some common problems and suggested solutions:

  • Floppy drive not connected. Connect the floppy drive. There needs to be a ribbon cable connected (for data), and a power cable (to the power supply) as well.
  • Ribbon cable on backwards. If the indicator light on the floppy comes on instantly and remains on constantly when the system boots, this means that the ribbon cable is plugged in backwards. Power down the machine, reverse the cable, and then boot again.
  • System not set to boot from floppy first. Go into BIOS and set the system to boot from the floppy before other devices (like hard drive, CD drive, etc.) Under no circumstances should we boot from the hard drive.

If the above steps fail, the problem may be with the WAZZIT disk itself. Try a different WUTSIT disk, or try to boot from another bootable floppy (like a MEMTEST86 disk) to isolate the problem.

If the system will not boot from the floppy drive, mark the label NO BOOT, and physically examine the processor to determine its class and speed. By itself, "NO BOOT" is not a reason to recycle a system.