Difference between revisions of "GRUB Legacy"

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* Device and partitioning numbering begin at zero. For example, the first hard disk recognized in the BIOS will be defined as '''(hd0)'''. The second device will be called '''(hd1)'''. This also applies to partitions.  So, the second partition on the first hard disk will be defined as '''(hd0,1)'''.}}
* Device and partitioning numbering begin at zero. For example, the first hard disk recognized in the BIOS will be defined as '''(hd0)'''. The second device will be called '''(hd1)'''. This also applies to partitions.  So, the second partition on the first hard disk will be defined as '''(hd0,1)'''.}}
If you are unaware of the the location of {{Filename|/boot}}, use the GRUB shell {{Codeline|find}} command to locate the GRUB files.  Enter the GRUB shell by:
If you are unaware of the the location of {{Filename|/boot}}, use the GRUB shell {{Codeline|find}} command to locate the GRUB files.  Enter the GRUB shell as root by:
  # grub
  # grub

Revision as of 14:59, 2 September 2010

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GNU GRUB is a multiboot bootloader. It was derived from GRUB, the GRand Unified Bootloader, which was originally designed and implemented by Erich Stefan Boleyn.

Briefly, the bootloader is the first software program that runs when a computer starts. It is responsible for loading and transferring control to the Linux kernel. The kernel, in turn, initializes the rest of the operating system.

Currently, GRUB is the de facto standard bootloader of Linux, and is expected to be superseded by GRUB2 in the near future. When this happens, "GRUB" will become "GRUB Legacy".


The GRUB package is installed by default when you install Arch Linux. If you previously selected not to install this package, you can install now via:

# pacman -S grub

Additionally, GRUB must be installed to the boot sector of a drive or partition to serve as a bootloader. This is covered in the #Bootloader installation section.


The configuration file is located at Template:Filename. Edit this file to suit your needs.

An example configuration (Template:Filename is on a separate partition):


Finding GRUB's root

GRUB must be told where its files reside on the system, since multiple instances may exist (i.e., in multi-boot environments). GRUB files always reside under Template:Filename, which may be on a dedicated partition.

Note: GRUB defines storage devices differently than conventional kernel naming does.
  • Hard disks are defined as (hdX); this also refers to any USB storage devices.
  • Device and partitioning numbering begin at zero. For example, the first hard disk recognized in the BIOS will be defined as (hd0). The second device will be called (hd1). This also applies to partitions. So, the second partition on the first hard disk will be defined as (hd0,1).

If you are unaware of the the location of Template:Filename, use the GRUB shell Template:Codeline command to locate the GRUB files. Enter the GRUB shell as root by:

# grub

The following example is for systems without a separate Template:Filename partition, wherein Template:Filename is merely a directory under Template:Filename:

grub> find /boot/grub/stage1

The following example is for systems with a separate Template:Filename partition:

grub> find /grub/stage1

GRUB will find the file, and output the location of the stage1 file. For example:


This value should be entered on the Template:Codeline line in your configuration file. Type Template:Codeline to exit the shell.

Dual booting with Windows

Add the following to the end of your Template:Filename (assuming that your Windows partition is on the first partition of the first drive):

title Windows
rootnoverify (hd0,0)
makeactive #if you use Windows7 this line should be commented out
chainloader +1
Note: Windows 2000 and later versions do NOT need to be on the first partition to boot (contrary to popular belief). If the Windows partition changes (i.e. if you add a partition before the Windows partition), you will need to edit the Windows Template:Filename file to reflect the change (see this article for details on how to do that).

If Windows is located on another hard disk, the map command must be used. This will make your Windows install think it is actually on the first drive. Assuming that your Windows partition is on the first partition of the second drive:

title Windows
map (hd0) (hd1)
map (hd1) (hd0)
rootnoverify (hd1,0)
makeactive #if you use Windows7 this line should be commented out
chainloader +1

Dual booting with GNU/Linux

This can be done the same way that an Arch Linux install is defined. For example:

title Other Linux
root (hd0,2)
kernel /path/to/kernel root=/dev/sda3 ro
initrd /path/to/initrd

However, there may be other options that are required, and an initial RAM disk may not be used. Examine the other distribution's Template:Filename to match boot options, or see #chainloader and configfile (recommended):

Template:Codeline and Template:Codeline

To facilitate system maintenance, the Template:Codeline or Template:Codeline command should be used to boot another Linux distribution that provides an "automagic" GRUB configuration mechanism (e.g. Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE). This allows the distribution to manage its own Template:Filename and boot options.

  • The Template:Codeline command will load another bootloader (rather than a kernel image); useful if another bootloader is installed in a partition's boot sector (GRUB, for example). This allows one to install a "main" instance of GRUB to the MBR and distribution-specific instances of GRUB to each partition boot record (PBR).
  • The Template:Codeline command will instruct the currently running GRUB instance to load the specified configuration file. This can be used to load another distribution's Template:Filename without a separate GRUB installation. The caveat of this approach is that other Template:Filename may not be compatible with the installed version of GRUB; some distributions heavily patch their versions of GRUB.

For example, GRUB is to be installed to the MBR and some other bootloader (be it GRUB or LILO) is already installed to the boot sector of Template:Codeline.

|   |           |           |   %           |
| M |           |           | B %           |
| B |  (hd0,0)  |  (hd0,1)  | L %  (hd0,2)  |
| R |           |           |   %           |
|   |           |           |   %           |
  |                           ^
  |       chainloading        |

One can simply include in Template:Filename:

title Other Linux
root (hd0,2)
chainloader +1

Or, if the bootloader on Template:Codeline is GRUB:

title Other Linux
root (hd0,2)
configfile /boot/grub/menu.lst

The Template:Codeline command can also be used to load the MBR of a second drive:

title Other drive
rootnoverify (hd1)
chainloader +1

Bootloader installation

Manual recovery of GRUB libs

The Template:Filename files are expected to be in Template:Filename, which may not be the case if the bootloader was not installed during system installation or if the partition/filesystem was damaged, accidentally deleted, etc.

Manually copy the grub libs like so:

# cp -a /usr/lib/grub/i386-pc/* /boot/grub
Note: Don't forget to mount the system's boot partition if your setup uses a separate one! The above assumes that either the boot partition resides on the root filesystem or is mounted to /boot on the root file system!

General notes about bootloader installation

GRUB may be installed from a separate medium (e.g. a LiveCD), or directly from a running Arch install. The GRUB bootloader is seldom required to be reinstalled and installation is not necessary when:

  • The configuration file is updated.
  • The GRUB package is updated.

Installation is necessary when:

  • A bootloader is not already installed.
  • Another operating system overwrites the a Linux bootloader.
  • The bootloader fails for some unknown reason.

Before continuing, a few notes:

  • Be sure that your GRUB configuration is correct (Template:Filename) before proceeding. Refer to #Finding GRUB's root to ensure your devices are defined correctly.
  • GRUB must be installed on the MBR (first sector of the hard disk), or the first partition of the first storage device to be recognized by most BIOS's. To allow individual distributions the ability to manage their own GRUB menus, multiple instances of GRUB can be used, see #chainloader and configfile.
  • Installing the GRUB bootloader may need to be done from within a Template:Codelineed environment (i.e. from installed environment via a separate medium) for cases like RAID configurations or if you forgot/broke your GRUB installation. You will need to Change Root from a LiveCD or another Linux installation to do so.

First, enter the GRUB shell:

# grub

Use the Template:Codeline command with the output from the Template:Codeline command (see #Finding GRUB's root) to instruct GRUB which partition contains stage1 (and therefore, Template:Filename):

grub> root (hd1,0)
Tip: The GRUB shell also supports tab-completion. If you type 'root (hd' then press Tab twice you will see the available storage devices, this can also be done for partitions. Tab-completion also works from the GRUB boot menu. If there is an error in your configuration file you can edit in the boot menu and use tab-completion to help find devices and partitions. See #Edit GRUB entries in the boot menu.

Installing to the MBR

The following example installs GRUB to the MBR of the first drive:

grub> setup (hd0)

Installing to a partition

The following example installs GRUB to the first partition of the first drive:

grub> setup (hd0,0)

After running Template:Codeline, enter Template:Codeline to exit the shell. If you chrooted, exit your chroot and unmount partitions. Now reboot to test.

Alternate method (grub-install)

Tip: This procedure is known to be less reliable, the recommended method is to use the GRUB shell.

Use the Template:Codeline command followed by the location to install the bootloader. For example to install the GRUB bootloader to the MBR of the first drive:

# grub-install /dev/sda

GRUB will indicate whether it successfully installs. If it does not, you will have to use the GRUB shell method.

Tips and tricks

Additional configuration notes.

Graphical boot

For those desiring eye candy, see grub-gfx. GRUB2 also offers enhanced graphical capabilities, such as background images and bitmap fonts.

Framebuffer resolution

One can use the resolution given in the Template:Filename, but you might want to use your LCD wide-screen at its full native resolution. Here is what you can do to achieve this:

On Wikipedia, there is a list of extended framebuffer resolutions (i.e. beyond the ones in the VBE standard). But, for example, the one I want to use for 1440x900 (Template:Codeline) does not work. This is because the graphic card manufacturers are free to choose any number they wish, as this is not part of the VBE 3 standard. This is why these codes change from one card to the other (possibly even for the same manufacturer).

So instead of using that table, you can use one of the tools mentioned below to get the correct code:


  1. Install Template:Package Official package from [community] that contains the vbetest tool (x86_64 users will need to use #hwinfo below).
  2. Run Template:Codeline as root
  3. Then note the number in [ ] corresponding to your desired resolution.
  4. Press 'q' to quit vbetest interactive prompt.
    1. As an option, in a console as root, you can test the mode you just picked up by running Template:Codeline and see a pattern like this one
  5. Add 512 to the discovered value picked up above and use the total value to define the Template:Codeline parameter in the kernel options of Template:Filename.
  6. Reboot to enjoy the result

For example vbetest on one computer:

[356] 1440x900 (256 color palette)
[357] 1440x900 (8:8:8)

So here the number you want is 357. Then, 357 + 512 = 869, so you will use vga=869. Add your value to the end of the kernel line in Template:Filename as shown below:

kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda1 ro vga=869
  • (8:8:8) is for 24-bit color (24bit is 32bit)
  • (5:6:5) is for 16-bit color
  • (5:5:5) is for 15-bit color


  1. Install Template:Package AUR from [AUR].
  2. Run Template:Codeline as root.
  3. Pick up the code corresponding to the desired resolution.
  4. Use the 6 digit code with 0x prefix in Template:Codeline kernel option in Template:Filename. Or convert it to decimal to avoid the use of 0x prefix.

Example output of hwinfo:

Mode 0x0364: 1440x900 (+1440), 8 bits
Mode 0x0365: 1440x900 (+5760), 24 bits

And the kernel line:

kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda1 ro vga=0x0365
Note: vbetest gives you VESA mode to which we need to add 512 to get the correct value to use in kernel option line. While hwinfo gives you directly the correct value needed by the kernel.

GRUB recognized value

This is an easy way to find the resolution code using only GRUB itself.

On the kernel line, specify that the kernel should ask you which mode to use.

kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda1 ro vga=ask

Now reboot. GRUB will now present a list of suitable codes to use and the option to scan for even more.

You can pick the code you would like to use (don't forget it, it is needed for the next step) and boot using it.

The number you have picked here is the hexadecimal number, in order to use it at the kernel line you can transform it into a decimal number.

Now replace ask in the kernel line with the correct one you have picked.

e.g. the kernel line for [369] 1680x1050x32 would be:

kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda1 ro vga=873

Naming by label

If you alter (or plan to alter) partition sizes from time to time, you might want to consider defining your drive/partitions by a label. You can label ext2, ext3, ext4 partitions by:

e2label </dev/drive|partition> label

The label name can be up to 16 characters long but cannot have spaces for GRUB to understand it. Then define it in your Template:Filename:

kernel /boot/vmlinuz26 root=/dev/disk/by-label/Arch_Linux ro

Password protection

You can enable password protection in the GRUB configuration file for operating systems you wish to have protected. Bootloader password protection may be desired if your BIOS lacks such functionality and you need the extra security.

First, choose a password you can remember and then encrypt it:

# grub-md5-crypt
Retype password:

Then add your password to the beginning of the GRUB configuration file (the password must be at the beginning of the configuration file for GRUB to be able to recognize it):

# general configuration
timeout   5
default   0
color light-blue/black light-cyan/blue

password --md5 $1$ZOGor$GABXUQ/hnzns/d5JYqqjw

Then for each operating system you wish to protect, add the Template:Codeline command:

# (0) Arch Linux
title  Arch Linux
root   (hd0,1)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz26 root=/dev/disk/by-label/Arch_Linux ro
initrd /boot/kernel26.img
Warning: If you disable booting from other boot devices (like a CD drive) in the BIOS's settings and then password protect all your operating system entries, it could be difficult to re-enable booting back into the operating systems if the password is forgotten.

Restart with named boot choice

If you realize that you often need to switch to some other non-default OS (e.g. Windows) having to reboot and wait for the GRUB menu to appear is tedious. GRUB offers a way to record your OS choice when restarting instead of waiting for the menu, by designating a temporary new default which will be reset as soon as it has been used.

Supposing a simple Template:Filename setup like this:


Arch is the default (0). We want to restart in to Windows. Change Template:Codeline to Template:Codeline -- this will record the current default in a Template:Filename file in the GRUB directory whenever the savedefault command is used. Now add the line Template:Codeline to the bottom of the Windows entry. Whenever Windows is booted, it will reset the default to Arch, thus making changing the default to Windows temporary.

Now all that is needed is a way to easily change the default manually. This can be accomplished using the command Template:Codeline. So, to reboot into Windows, enter the following command:

 sudo grub-set-default 1 && sudo shutdown -r now

For ease of use, you might to wish to implement the "Allow users to shutdown fix" (including Template:Filename amongst the commands the user is allowed to issue without supplying a password).

LILO and GRUB interaction

If the LILO package is installed on your system, remove it with

pacman -R lilo

as some tasks (e.g. kernel compilation using Template:Codeline) will make a LILO call, and LILO will then be installed over GRUB. LILO may have been included in your base system, depending on your installer media version and whether you selected/deselected it during the package selection stage.

Note: pacman -R lilo will not remove LILO from the MBR if it has been installed there; it will merely remove the lilo package. The LILO bootloader installed to the MBR will be overwritten when GRUB (or another bootloader) is installed over it.

GRUB boot disk

First, format a floppy disk:

 fdformat /dev/fd0
 mke2fs /dev/fd0

Now mount the disk:

 mount -t ext2 /dev/fd0 /mnt/fl

Install GRUB to the disk:

 grub-install --root-directory=/mnt/fl '(fd0)'

Copy your Template:Filename file to the disk:

 cp /boot/grub/menu.lst /mnt/fl/boot/grub/menu.lst

Now unmount your floppy:

 umount /mnt/fl

Now you should be able to restart your computer with the disk in the drive and it should boot to GRUB. Make sure that your floppy disk is set to have higher priority than your hard drive when booting in your BIOS first, of course.

See also: Super GRUB Disk


GRUB Error 17

If your partition table gets messed up, an unpleasant "GRUB error 17" message might be the only thing that greets you on your next reboot. There are a number of reasons why the partition table could get messed up. Commonly, users who manipulate their partitions with GParted -- particularly logical drives -- can cause the order of the partitions to change. For example, you delete Template:Filename and resize Template:Filename, then finally re-create what used to be Template:Filename only now it appears at the bottom of the list, Template:Filename for example. Although the physical order of the partitions/logical drives has not changed, the order in which they are recognized has changed.

Fixing the partition table is easy. Boot from your Arch CD, login as root and fix the partition table:

# fdisk /dev/sda

Once in disk, enter e[x]tra/expert mode, [f]ix the partition order, then [w]rite the table and exit.

You can verify that the partition table was indeed fixed by issuing an Template:Codeline. Now you just need to fix GRUB. See the #Bootloader installation section above.

Basically you need to tell GRUB the correct location of your Template:Filename then re-write grub to the MBR on the disk.

For example:

# grub
grub> root (hd0,6)
grub> setup (hd0)
grub> quit

See [this page] for a more in-depth summary of this section.

/boot/grub/stage1 not read correctly

If you see this error message while trying to setup grub and you are not using a fresh partition table, it's worth checking it.

# fdisk -l /dev/sda

This will show you the partition table for /dev/sda. So check here, whether the "Id" values of your partitions are correct. The "System" column will show you the description of the "Id" values.

If your boot partition is marked as being "HPFS/NTFS", for example, then you have to change it to "Linux". To do this, go to fdisk,

# fdisk /dev/sda

change a partition's system id with [t], select you partition number and type in the new system id (Linux = 83). You can also list all available system ids by typing "L" instead of a system id.

If you have changed a partitions system id, you should [v]erify your partition table and then [w]rite it.

Now try to setup grub again.

[Here] is the forum post reporting this problem.

Accidental install to a Windows partition

If you accidentally install GRUB to a Windows partition, GRUB will write some information to the boot sector of the partition, erasing the reference to the Windows bootloader. (This is true for NTLDR the bootloader for Windows XP and earlier, unsure about later versions).

To fix this you'll need to use the Windows Recovery Console for your Windows release. Because many computer manufacturers do not include this with their product (many choose to use a recovery partition) Microsoft has made them available for download. If you use XP, look at this page to be able to turn the floppy disks to a Recovery CD. Boot the Recovery CD (or enable Windows Recovery mode) and run Template:Codeline to repair the partition boot sector. After this, you will have to install GRUB again---this time, to the MBR, not to the Windows partition---to boot Linux.

See further discussion here.

Edit GRUB entries in the boot menu

Once you have selected and entry in the boot menu, you can edit it by pressing key e. Use tab-completion if you need to to discover devices then Esc to exit. Then you can try to boot by pressing b. Note: these settings will not be saved.

device.map error

If an error is raised mentioning Template:Filename during installation or boot, run:

# grub-install --recheck /dev/sda

to force GRUB to recheck the device map, even if it already exists. This may be necessary after resizing partitions or adding/removing drives.

KDE reboot pull-down menu fails

If you've opened a sub-menu with the list of all operating systems configured in GRUB, selected one, and upon restart, you still booted your default OS, then you might want to check if you have the line:

default saved

in Template:Filename.

GRUB fails to find or install to any virtio /dev/vd* or other non-BIOS devices

I had trouble installing GRUB while installing ArchLinux in an virtual KVM machine using a virtio device for hard drive. To install GRUB, I figured out the following: Enter a virtual console by typing ctrl+alt+f2 or any other f-key for a free virtual console. Assuming your root file system is mounted in the folder /mnt and boot file system is either mounted or stored in the folder /mnt/boot

1. Assure that all needed GRUB files is present in your boot directory(assuming mounted in /mnt/boot folder), by issuing the command:

# ls /mnt/boot/grub

2. If the grub folder allready contains all the needed files, jump to step 3. Otherwise, do the following commands(replacing /mnt, your_kernel and your_initrd with the real paths and file names). You should also have the menu.lst file written to this folder:

# mkdir -p /mnt/boot/grub                # if the folder is not yet present
# cp -r /boot/grub/stage1 /boot/grub/stage2 /mnt/boot/grub
# cp -r your_kernel your_initrd /mnt/boot

3. Start the GRUB shell with the following command:

# grub --device-map=/dev/null

4. Enter the following commands, replace /dev/vda, (hd0,0) with the correct device and partition corresponding to your setup.

device (hd0) /dev/vda
root (hd0,0)
setup (hd0)

5. If GRUB reports no error messages you probably are done.

External resources