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Old pc won't boot off linux usb

I have this old desktop: dell deminsion c521. I made a bootable linux usb with rufus. It detects it in the bios as "usb zip" however when I try to boot from it I get a flashing underscore. Ik it works because it works on my normal desktop and I'm sure that my boot priorities are correct. Suggestions?

What distro are you using?

Ubuntu mate

hmmmm You could clear the cmos and see if that doesn't resolve the issue.

This is a shot in the dark, but it could also have something to do with the partition table of the flash drive. In my experience older computers always seem to have an issue with GUID formatted drives.

It would be REALLY unlikely for your drive to be GUID, so I would not worry about it too much.

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I've had bad luck with rufus.
Just do it the old fashioned way.

Also the size of the USB drive could be a factor.
Try an 8GB USB drive

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If you have the option the fastest way in those cases is still to waste a cd or dvd for it.


You need to make the USB appear to be a floppy disk or use a CD to help, as, my bet is the PC doesn't support USB booting as its so old.

Tutorial here:

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Try a different flash drive. I have one the simply refuses to works a boot device.

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I've made a guide on the Arch wiki a long time ago just for this reason. It should work with Ubuntu too. You will need some kind of Linux environment to do this.

What this does is emulate the USBs C/H/S and partition layout to make the BIOS think it is a USB-ZIP drive and not a USB-HDD.

Let me know if you have any trouble with it. I'll be happy to explain it a bit more to you.

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Provided booting from USB is enabled in the BIOS (check it!) you can use F12 at boot to see whether the drive turns up. I'd try another USB drive and check the ISO before going funky with exotic solutions.

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Oh man, I’m having the exact same problem. The drive I had Ubuntu installed on kicked the bucket, and I can’t get it to see the USB drive as anything but USB-ZIP to boot off of it. Did you ever figure out how to get past this?

This thread is 5yrs old… Mods need to close this thread. Open a new one for you. @moderators

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Thanks @Magnus_Python.

@dredwolff Please create a new post for your issue (but feel free to link back to this one for reference). You could also post to the Small Linux Problem thread.

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