I just got a used Inspiron 300M, which I'm trying to install Linux or BSD on. The problem is it has no internal CD drive, and will not boot from any USB medium.

  • USB stick with a FreeBSD image gives a generic "boot error" message
  • USB stick with a Linux hybrid ISO gives "isolinux.bin is missing or corrupt"
  • USB stick with Linux on it via Unetbootin gives "Operating system not found"
  • USB CD drive never fully powers on, and gives "Operating system not found"

That last makes me think that the USB ports are getting insufficient voltage or something...

Is this a known issue with the Inspiron 300M, or other old Dell laptops? How have people solved it, if at all, short of using PXE boot servers or plugging the hard disk into another computer?

2 Answers 2


The problem turned out not to be the laptop itself, but the bad IDE hard disk I'd put in it. Without the hard disk it boots from external media without issue.


Try using an active USB hub (has its own power,) that should resolve a "need more power" issue. You could also try downgrading the BIOS if you have the newest installed. I've seen BIOS "updates" break usb-boot features.

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