Lenovo ThinkCentre E51 can boot MS-DOS successfully but fails with the USB created with SpinRite 6.1

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Apr 15, 2022
Hi everyone,

I've already explained this issue in GRC NNTP newsgroups, but I'll repeat it here because I think it's important enough.

The mainboard of Lenovo ThinkCentre E51 is this one:

If you try to boot with an USB flash drive created by SpinRite 6.1 the computer will hang in a boot loop with this error (video demonstration):

@daniel :

Thanks for the video... that made it very clear. What we see is a complaint about an invalid OpCode right off the bat. If that's really the trouble, then my first question is about the age of that machine? FreeDOS and SpinRite are still very backward compatible with much older machines... but they do need at least a Pentium.

What I would try, would be to use GRC's InitDisk with the "freedos" option on the command line to create a FreeDOS-bootable USB thumb drive. Then copy your copy of SpinRite v6.1 onto it and boot that.
  1. Does FreeDOS boot?
  2. Can you do a "DIR"ectory of the drive?
  3. Does manually running SpinRite work?
This computer is from the year 2006. It has an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ processor with 512 megs of DDR1 RAM
That machine sounds/seems fine. The line in CONFIG.SYS that's “SKIPINIT?1” should be “SKIPINIT=1”. So it appears that you have a bad character in the file. And that, in turn, points to that USB boot thumb drive having some problems. So the next thing to try would be another (hopefully better) thumb drive?? (y)
The thumbdrive is working correctly. I've already tested it with several other computers and boots correctly in all of them (it only fails on this Lenovo).

I've unplugged the USB drive from the Lenovo, and immediately connected it to an HP computer. Look at the results:

Deleting CONFIG.SYS doesn't do much:

However, formatting the USB thumbdrive with Rufus 4.4 and setting MS-DOS under "Boot Selection", and clicking the checkbox called "Add fixes for old BIOSes (extra partition, align, etc)", results in a successful boot!!

Sadly, the mainboard of this Lenovo (which uses a very crappy VIA chipset) seems to be incompatible with SpinRite 6.1 :(

I've plugged several different sata drives (Maxtor, Seagate and Western Digital). All of them give me the same error in SpinRite :(
Please note that all these hard drives work well in the HP computer, of course, and SpinRite detects them in white color and happily works with them.

Do you think there's any hope for this Lenovo to be able to run SpinRite in the future, or should we add it to the Hall of Shame of computers utterly unable to work with SpinRite??
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Do you think there's any hope for this Lenovo to be able to run SpinRite in the future, or should we add it to the Hall of Shame of computers utterly unable to work with SpinRite??
For what it's worth, Daniel, SR7 will be an entirely new SpinRite, starting from scratch with a different OS. So I would be very surprised if it didn't work for you.

Note that you can probably start SpinRite with the otherwise NOT recommended "forcebios" command line option to force SpinRite to work through the BIOS. That largely returns v6.1 back to v6.0, but other improvements would still be present. :-/
My old Acer laptop from 2003ish will only see a USB drive that's 512 MB or smaller. I don't know what the upper limit is as the next larger size that I have is 8 GB that it don't even acknowledge it's inserted.

Edit: I mean when trying to boot from USB drives. Windows sees the larger ones just fine.
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