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Stay Away From Grub2 30 September, 2008

Posted by aronzak in Debian, Grub, Linux, Ubuntu.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I strongly recommend that you don’t try upgrading to grub2, and developers don’t implement it in new releases. I have a multiboot setup like most users, and bad things happened to me.

Having read about ‘new features’ in the next version of the GNU Grand Unified Bootloader, grub2, I decided to upgrade.

At first, the grub2 installer kept grub ‘legacy’, which could chainload into grub2, with the first entry in grub being:

title        Chainload into GRUB 2
root        (hd0,2)
kernel        /boot/grub/core.img

Unfortunately, I then removed grub legacy, replacing it entirely with grub2.  This left me booting into a screen with only Debian entries. This is no good; I have other distros on my laptop, like most users would have other OSes such as Windows.

So, next, I decide to edit the configuration file. I am used to editing menu.lst. Grub2 does not use menu.lst, it uses a file called grub.cfg (easy to confuse with grub.conf, which in my CentOS install menu.lst is a link to).

Let me digress and talk about the differences between grub.cfg and menu.lst.

Here’s menu.lst; with a familiar header:

# menu.lst - See: grub(8), info grub, update-grub(8)
#            grub-install(8), grub-floppy(8),
#            grub-md5-crypt, /usr/share/doc/grub
#            and /usr/share/doc/grub-doc/.

As well as being full of comments that help users to understand and edit the file, as well as ‘examples’ of Linux and Windows entries. Then there are the entries themselves, using a familiar, clean tabbed format that is default in Debian.

title        Debian GNU/Linux, kernel 2.6.26-1-686
root        (hd0,2)
kernel        /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.26-1-686 root=/dev/sda3 ro
initrd        /boot/initrd.img-2.6.26-1-686

title           Ubuntu /dev/sda1
root            (hd0,0)
kernel          /vmlinuz root=/dev/sda1
initrd          /initrd.img

As well, I have a list of kernels that Ubuntu populated using update-grub, and that can be loaded using ‘configfile’

title        >Ubuntu List
root        (hd0,0)
configfile    /boot/grub/menu.lst

But to edit grub.cfg, first we get this friendly welcome:


Then we get these nice, easy, simpler list entries:

menuentry "Debian GNU/Linux, linux 2.6.26-1-686" {
linux    /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.26-1-686 root=UUID=124b49d6-a3eb-4eae-9e5d-e0000b5efda3 ro
initrd    /boot/initrd.img-2.6.26-1-686

The problem is, they aren’t. After users have struggled for a long time to edit menu.lst in order to make their computers boot properly, they will now need to learn a complicated, obscure format. It seems difficult if not impossible to convert boot entries in menu.lst files to grub.cfg files, with time being wasted adding unnecessary brackets and quotes, whereas they were not needed before.

Back to what happened. So, wanting to add in an Ubuntu entry I take menu.lst, and use find and replace to change ‘title’ to ‘menuentry’, ‘root’ to ‘set root=’ and ‘kernel’ to ‘linux’. Makes perfect sense. So I enter the following entry based on menu.lst

menuentry    "Ubuntu /dev/sda1" {
linux              /vmlinuz root=/dev/sda1
initrd          /initrd.img

The problem is, after ignoring  the ominous “DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE”, grub2 then refused to boot anything, throwing up an error that I need to boot the kernel first. Before what?  Luckily, I had a version of grub legacy on my usb stick, and only wasted about 10 minutes installing grub back onto the hard disk. Now my laptop works fine, and is able to boot into Ubuntu, Debian and CentOS.

I have a feeling that this problem arises with the difference in partitions, since grub2 seems to use variables that remain set for a section, rather than having a ‘root’ line in each entry. This probably makes sense in some applications. It sounds like a good idea for USB sticks, where the stick will change position in relation to other disks on different computers (but the UUID won’t change). If you want to edit your grub.cfg, probably edit the ‘custom’ section, rather than adding an entry in the ‘linux’ section

So, for me grub2 could only boot up Debian or nothing at all. There is very little documentation on how to edit the confusing grub.cfg, compared to menu.lst, where there is much community support. Whatever the benefits of grub2 are, I don’t think that they are worth the damage it could cause. Developers should steer clear of using the code, as it will only mean grief for the end user.



1. grw - 21 October, 2008

What you write is stupid wrong!

Look at /etc/default/grub and /etc/grub.d and read the README!

grub2 is the next and better way…

2. aronzak - 21 October, 2008

I’m not saying that grub2 is bad. I’m saying that it’s poorly executed. The point remains that grub2 didn’t work for me, or 2 others that I read about.

I don’t want to read readme’s for counter intuitive processes. I want my bootloader to work, and if it doesn’t, I want to be able to search for help, and read how to fix my problem, rather than hearing about others who are similarly helpless.

3. Micha - 2 January, 2009

you probably needed
instead of
grub2 changed the numbering to start from 1 for the partitions to match those in /dev

4. vda - 30 January, 2009

GRUB2 is a disaster looking for a place to happen.

5. Mathew - 5 February, 2009

It really hurts to read this article, since it is so wrong.

-the message “DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE” does not originate from grub at all but from your distribution just to tell you manually editing this file may interfere with scripts that try to modify this file.
-to assign variables, you need to use “set”
-the partition numbering scheme changed in grub2 and is one-based now.

If you still can’t figure out how to correctly write your grub.cfg, just open the grub shell and try around whatever you like. You can even use ls to list the automatically detected partitions or the files within those.

6. LuNa - 1 March, 2009

this is completely wrong
read the manual and configure your grub2 that perfectly works

7. phylwx - 10 March, 2009

well, i guess im stupid because i installed grub2 and it just wont work, it will only boot debian.

Oh well…

8. mike_s - 18 May, 2009

well I just got grub2 up and running on my triple boot system. I have ubuntu 9.1, Windows Vista, and a version of OSX using chameleon’s darwin bootloader. Although I agree that grub2 is way more complicated than its legacy, it is definately doable. The people who are telling you to edit the grub.cfg file are full of beans, as a mismatch between the executables in /etc/grub.d and the .cfg seems to royally piss off grub2. you should edit the exe’s in ~/grub.d to make changes and then execute the command: sudo /usr/sbin/update-grub to make those changes flow through into the grub.cfg

to make a new OS entry where the OS doesn’t use an initrd image you should copy the file in ~/grub.d labeled 40somethingorother.exe (right now i’m in vista). paste to another directory for example your desktop, and rename it using the convention outlined in the readme(i.e. a # between 10 and 20 followed by some name you find meaningful). open the copy in gedit, put in your desired info, save, and then from terminal use: sudo mv ‘/pathtocopy/copy’ ‘/etc/grub.d’
obviously you would use the path to your copy and the name you chose where it says /pathtocopy/copy

as for what to do to the executable copy from within gedit. first comment the line that has !bash by putting a # in front then you would use syntax such as:

menuentry ” Whatever you want to call the OS (#optional comment to appear in menu# on /dev/sdxy)” {
chainloader +1

or if that gives you errors, instead of +1 try the path to the specific chainloader. for example on my macintosh partition [linux sda4=mac disk0s4= grub1 (hd0,3) = grub2 (hd0,4)], the chainloader was in the directory /usr/standalone/i386/ and was called chain0
so I used

menuentry ” Mac OS X (on /dev/sda4)” {
chainloader /usr/standalone/i386/chain0

I then saved the file and changed the name to 11MacOS
and moved it to the ~/grub.d directory, and used the terminal command: sudo /usr/sbin/update-grub to autogenerate a new grub.cfg. I got a message saying mac os x isn’t yet supported, but it still worked. In short, grub2 is much more of a pain in the butt then legacygrub, but I seem to remember getting tripped up in oldschool grub as well. One final word of advice would be don’t run the update grub legacy command until you are absolutely sure grub2 is funcioning for all os’s

oh also grub2 doesn’t understand uuid’s so while you are in between you should make sure to edit the menu.ls used by legacy grub to change all uuid’s (except where it says uuid=root) to the respective device and partition or else you will get an error 11 unrecognized device. good luck

9. 4Bhere - 1 June, 2009

Actually Aronzak has a point. There has to be an easy interface to fix grub2 misinstalls or the masses wont be able to use it,

10. John - 26 June, 2009

He definitely gets a point. I have been a system admin and have to frequently work with grub errors, so I have no problem setting up grub2. However, to say the least its document is very poor, esp. in explaining why certain commands were removed. For instance, it just says:

setup (removed), no longer needed, but does not explain why, and does not offer a replacement in the new regime. this frustrates for a long-time admin like myself, let alone linux users who just want to get their system working.

in grub legacy, this often works wonders when things like grub-install fails.

root (hd0,0)
setup (hd0)

I know there must be a way and think can eventually figure it out or find it by searching, but a bit more explanation would go very far to reduce things like this. hopefully ubuntu etc. would do a better job, now they have decided to make grub2 default in the coming karmic.

11. Richard Friday - 29 June, 2009

I’m a newbie wrt Linux. But I have many years of experience as a software engineer on VMS, Windows, and Tru64. Now I’m retired. I’m used to being able to help myself and finding solutions. But I’m totally frustrated with GRUB.

I’ve been trying out various Linux distributions for several years. I want Linux to succeed so I can forget about Windows. And Linux has made great progress. But imo GRUB is hindering adoption of Linux by new users.

Recently I tried to install Ubuntu 9.04 and also Mint 9.1 to both a USB stick and a USB hard drive. I found that the installations appeared to go smoothly. But they wouldn’t boot: GRUB hung. But I’m not looking for a solution here. I’m here to describe why I’m giving up on Ubuntu and Mint for new; I do expect to try again with newer versions, at some point.

After GRUB hung I spent many hours spread over several days Googling for information about how to get it to work. I also spent several hours with another engineer friend of mine who is a Fedora user. We were unable to figure out what was wrong.

Imo GRUB is much too complicated. It needs to be MUCH simpler and much more reliable. Consider the Windows boot process. It just works (but yeah, they made a mess of it with Vista).

But even MicroSoft recognizes that things get broken. And so the Windows installation CDs provide a repair option that fixes things such as the boot loader. You don’t have to Google for complicated instructions about how to fix the Windows boot process (although Vista seems to have failed in this regard).

Fixing GRUB needs to be as easy as it is with Windows. I think the Live CDs should offer a repair function. And it needs to refer to things in terms that real people can understand. I think most new users don’t have multi-partitioned disks with multiple OSes. So the default behavior of a repair function should make the simple cases easy, while still providing capabilities for advanced users. Ordinary users don’t want to have to figure out how to use a command prompt and/or deal with “strange” device notation.

Just my thoughts. I want Linux to succeed.

12. aronzak - 1 July, 2009

“Consider the Windows boot process. It just works (but yeah, they made a mess of it with Vista).”

Really? You’ve never run into the hal.dll missing error? The Windows boot process is similarly complicated, with the boot.ini and ntldr files that means that you can customise it to be quite extensible, like grub. You can even start grub with the windows boot loader (with grldr).

Essentially, the main differences with Windows is that:
1. Most details and options are hidden
2. There is a relatively painless way to install/repair the bootloader
3. The default setup is only to boot one OS only.

1. This is a problem.

2. There is the grub rescue disc, but yes, it would be better to have a single rescue utility shipping by default on standard Linux discs like with Windows PE.

3. “I think most new users don’t have multi-partitioned disks with multiple OSes.”
Strange. Most people installing Linux are installing it on a computer with some version of Windows already on it. Sure, some people use multiple hard drives, or only use one OS and overwrite the old one. Also, things like virtualisation help to make it easier to test run without installing etc… but still many people will be installing a multi boot environment and expect to be able to do that. So this can’t really be excluded as one of the default options.

I know this isn’t a request for help, and you probably know this, but booting off USB is quirky, especially on older computers (so it might not just be grub at fault). Try different computers (also front USB/back USB, weird things like that).

13. Jim McCloskey - 4 August, 2009

For me, the conversion to grub2 on Debian has been an utter nightmare. My Lenovo T60P which has been running only Debian won’t boot at all (the dreaded Error 15). So I went in one quick evening from having a beautifully working Debian testing system to having an expensive brick. My worst linux experience yet, I think. I’ve spent 8 hours tonight without success using a rescue disk trying to restore it (just to get it to boot, for God’s sake). And as for the so-called `documentation’ ……….

14. Jenna Simi - 5 August, 2009

Try and use Grub2 to boot multi .iso directly from a usb stick and watch your hair turn grey before your eyes~

After 3 days of mucking around with the debian and karmic koala (ubuntu alpha) versions, I returned to what I know works instead… extlinux on a multi partitioned 8 gig usb stick. Simple, clear, professionally implemented.

My constant objection in the linux world is that most all software never passes through a “Marketing” department. What I mean is an engineering objective is met first, regardless of how easy it is for the user to use the software. No one wants to re learn a new language just to use a ‘newer’ version. There has to be a single sentance I have to give my boss as to why he should want to switch to grub2… I can’t give one at this time.

I can think of a reason (If they ever solve the glitches) … to multiboot .iso images of live cd’s. I can vouch for their authenticity via md5sum (or other) to guarantee they haven’t been touched. This would make it easier for me to test new live CD/DVD as they come out without having to use a Virtual solution.

Someday…. but not today.


15. Félix - 5 August, 2009

I suffered from cold sweats during my upgrade to grub2 too. And I just attempted it because I felt coerced to do it by some scaremongering messages during my last grub update.

This critical upgrade should be really fail-proof. I don’t doubt grub2 is great, but usability should be the buzz word here.

16. nilus - 15 August, 2009

what are you complaining about? grub2 is still in development and we all know that it is not exactly well documented at. If your distro chooses to use grub2, it is its turn to support its users.
If you freely choose to install grub2 and can’t handle it, then it’s your own fault, nobody told you to. (To be honest it is new software, and just saying “the older one is better because I know it” gets you nowhere. Agreed, something like a translator from grub menu.lst to grub2 would be nice, but again, grub2 is still in development, other important features are still missing too, e.g. password protection of the boot menu)

17. Andrew - 2 September, 2009

Heh, nearly a year since the post, and grub2 still is far too buggy for mainstream use. Even the latest SVN version has trouble booting most multboot-compatible images without falling on it’s face, and has trouble with quite a few Linux kernel versions as well.

Oh well, give it another year!

18. Steve - 2 September, 2009

Guys, I really have no idea what you’re talking about. I have been using the SVN GRUB2, and yes, which it is very poorly documented, the questions that I did have were answered very quickly (albeit with a little bit of an attitude) on #grub on Freenet (irc.freenode.net). The mailing list is invaluable for getting questions answered because GRUB2 is under very active development. They have stabilized for the 1.97 release and are very open to any bug report (in fact, one of the most active developers is a truly gifted engineer (my only complaint is his occasional attitude and “Free Software” zealot mindset, but that is easily overlooked for the massive value he brings to the project). I think the current maintainer for the project has his head screwed on properly and would be very receptive to your feedback. How else it GRUB2 going to “get there” if you guys don’t relay feedback?
Am I bummed about the grub.cfg menu file format (and name) change? Definitely — BUT it’s definitely doable to cut over to the new format (yes, documentation would help here tremendously, especially a n00b’s guide to a conversion, which hopefully will be part of the documentation going forward. Upgrade isn’t their strong suit, but Linux distros like Ubuntu and (soon) Redhat are helping there.
I am not a GRUB2 fanboy, but I do believe it’s a very versatile loader.

19. Andrew - 4 September, 2009

The trouble is that grub2 has *so many* bugs that it’d take me a at least a couple of days to narrow down all the problems to nice test cases.
1) Booting off a floppy is broken (alternates between memory corruption and not loading some modules depending on which modules you select). Additionally, it appears that it can’t load configuration files off devices that don’t contain partitions (floppy disks, USB sticks, etc).
2) Loading multiboot-compatible ELF images is broken in at least three ways – sometimes it crashes with pointer alignment errors, sometimes it doesn’t but instead the image is corrupted or it jumps to the wrong start address. Seems to have something to do with the size of the sections.
3) Similarly, the linux loader is somewhat borked – it’ll lock up sometimes when trying to load a linux kernel. Changing the build options and rebuilding the kernel “fixes” it, so again I’m guessing it’s something to do with the section or file sizes.
4) The command line module often dies (infinite loop?) when you hit tab for command completion, and sometimes doesn’t list all the available commands.

Even ignoring all the bugs, IMO the fundamental aims of grub2 are flawed. They’re essentially trying to do a NIH remake of EFI, and making the same mistakes. While EFI as a whole is a bloated mess, a better aim for grub2 would (IMO) have been to implement the core parts of EFI required to get the system booting.

20. pssst … » Ubuntu Karmic Alpha 5 Editing GRUB2 - 5 September, 2009

[…] BTW GRUB2 has attracted some controversy and there are some interesting points in the following article and its comments (https://aronzak.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/stay-away-from-grub2/). […]

21. Sp0ck - 18 September, 2009

Well, this command worked for me.

sudo update-grub2


22. Bob - 9 October, 2009
23. HippyLover - 25 October, 2009

I love it… there’s nothing better than an experienced Linux admin complaining about “….will now need to learn a complicated, obscure format…”

Now you know exactly how windows admins feel when being stuck with Linux.

This is not a ‘flame’ per se… it’s more a ‘now you are walking in my shoes’.

The icing on the cake comes in when someone new to Linux asks for help from someone familiar with it (linux) and the response starts off with “well if you weren’t an ignorant windows user” or “windows sucks”…

What goes around comes around… welcome to ‘progress’.

: )

24. FezzFest - 26 October, 2009

I have exactly the same problems. I’ve been using Ubuntu in Triple-boot with OS X and Windows for the past two year.

When I reinstalled Windows, I knew the commands to fix GRUB out of my head, and after 5 minutes, everything was perfectly configured and I had a happily working system.

Last time, I installed Ubuntu 9.10, with GRUB 2 (1.97).
It was working fine, first I was frustrated by the fact I didn’t know how to edit the menu’s etc, but it worked fine and after a while I didn’t care anymore.

Now I installed Windows 7, which, of course, overwrites grub with his own bootloader, but I can’t find use the legacy-grub commands to fix my bootloader, because it’s GRUB2. After 15 minutes I found out there was a file “grub.cfg” but I don’t know how to edit it, and there’s very little documentation about it.

Till now, two weeks later, I am still struggling with it, I still don’t have it working like it should be, but I gave up searching how to configure it properly…

lachlan - 27 October, 2009

boot ubuntu live cd 9.10

open terminal

(my boot partition is sda1)
sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt

(this will update the grub config and install to your MBR)
sudo grub-install –root-directory=/mnt /dev/sda


Grub2 is hard to get your head around when you start out but it’s really great once you get a hold of it.

where i work i have a 700mb debian partition with grub2 and then have created custom and password protected entries for windows and hidden the other windows drives from each other.

lachlan - 27 October, 2009

missed one the line should be

sudo grub-install -–root-directory=/mnt /dev/sda

25. helpneeded - 29 October, 2009

I’m also using a triple boot system, and Grub2 really scrudded up my Mac OSX Acces… Installing 9.10 Karmic doesn’t give you the option to install Grub Legacy. How can I go back to Grub Legacy since the new partition is ext4 ???

26. FoxM - 3 November, 2009

The only problem with my grub2 installation was that it should mark ‘os-probe’ as a dependency.

My other OS also dissappeared, but it took me 5 minutes to read that all that was needed was to install os-probe and a run of grub-mkconfig.

27. Ignorance - 16 November, 2009

Guys, I admit that I’m going to post a useless , un-constructive comment.

I am a common linux user, noobber-noob cathegory, trying to boot ubuntu and puppy linux and I say: GRUB 2 totally s….

Configuration into many, misplaced, obscure files, while you could just edit one single file, and set anything in it.

If you could’t do something you looked online for information, and learn. if you knew what you needed,well…you handn’t to search.
Lapallissian, but now even if you knew how to configure grub, you must search online for a syntax translation. I personally hate to re-learn things, expecially when all I need is getting an OS to boot. I could just add 4 lines in a file, once…now I have to spend hours into reading forums from users, wich in most cases are as helpless as I am.

finally, why oh why (sdX, Y), where x starts from 0 and Y from 1…
does all those syntax changes make sense?

28. Chris S - 20 November, 2009

I agree with staying away from Grub2.

I’ve been using Linux since 1995, and I too found the documentation severely lacking. It shouldn’t take an hour to figure out how to configure the boot loader, and I personally hate the added complexity of running scripts in Ubuntu to generate the config.

I’m sure Grub2 is technically better for some reason or another, but sometimes when only programmers are running the show things like documentation, backward compatibility and ease of use go by the wayside (I am a programmer).

I also believe that the Grub developers are LARGELY responsible for causing the distributions to prematurely switch based on how they chose to name and support the different versions. So please don’t just blame the distros for adopting Grub2, as they were partially misled in doing so.

The only good thing about Ubuntu switching to Grub2 is that the flood of new users will provide a lot of free testing and bug reports/fixes, hopefully making life easier for the later adopters.

29. Andrey - 29 November, 2009

Stay away from Grub2. MsiWind triple boot with OS X Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04. Once I updated to Ubuntu 9.10. Line for OS X exists but it never boots to OS. Uuntu and Windows 7 boots no problem. Some other problems with Ubuntu 9.10 like webcam not working. Forgetit. I understand that they rushed to release before Windows 7 but netbook remix and webcam doesn’t work on MSI Wind becase some bugs in USB that were reported months before and not fixed? I put 9.04 remix back in(webcam works no problem) edited menu.lst in Grub everyting boots no problem.I’m golden. I feel sorry for all the beginners that will try Ubuntu 9.10 and experiment with multible boot.

30. Eruaran - 6 December, 2009

Grub2 is simply not usable for most ordinary people. It has created a whole new level of complexity which means it is now exponentially more difficult to do something as simple as have a nice background image for your Grub menu. You can tout its technical superiority over the old Grub all you like but in terms of usability Grub2 is an incomprehensible step backwards.

31. Klistvud - 7 December, 2009

Grub2 is a perfectly working piece of software; most of the comments actually complain about the installation scripts, attributing the glitches and errors to Grub2. There’s a handful of facts to understand before you plunge into Grub2. Firstly: without the ‘os-prober’ package, the grub installer can’t recognize your other partitions/systems. You’ll get the impression your PC is borked, which it isn’t: after installing os-prober and running update-grub (as root), you’ll automagically get all your systems back in the Grub2 boot menu. Secondly: don’t mess with grub.cfg! It explicitly states it shouldn’t be edited; moreover, the update-grub script sets it as read-only, for the particularly stubborn. Grub2 is configured via /etc/default/grub and the /etc/grub.d/ scripts (valid for Debian, but other distros should be fairly similar). After you get a grip of these scripts, re-configuring Grub2 is a breeze. As opposed to Grub legacy, Grub2 is more powerful, more resilient (once you learn to use it), really “universal” (unified), more logical and _modular_. And yes, bootsplash images are _extremely_ easy to install and don’t need a specially compiled Grub2. The only drawback is — at high resolutions and with hicolor jpeg splash images it gets terribly slow. Let’s hope it improves with time…
Grub Legacy is exactly what it is: _legacy_. As in “obsolete”.

32. BajK - 7 December, 2009

I don’t care whether Grub 2 can bake a cake or tidy up my room, it just takes forever to load just to display the choice between Ubuntu and DOS for 8 seconds. Before I installed grub2 (which I undid then) when I came home, turned on the PC, went to the toilet and my completely loaded desktop was already there. With Grub2 most of the time I see the last seconds of the boot menu or the Ubuntu splash. Grub 2 is a piece of shit.
NONE of the features it might have justify this behavior and that slow boot time.

33. rien - 14 December, 2009

first post I agree with on internet :D

34. the_sane_one - 31 December, 2009

arzonak, stop being soft on grub and lusers.

You are right the first time, grub2 is a piece of shit. It’s actually worse than grub1.

Who in the right mind would change a readable, editable config file — that users interface most with your software with a programmable script.

Oh, they thought their software which is going to be installed on thousands of machines with infinite possible configurations will work perfectly with little QA when launched.

I wish syslinux adds support for extfs partitions. Then we can get rid of this complicated mess called grub.

35. shlstrm - 11 February, 2010

@BajK: “it just takes forever to load just to display the choice between Ubuntu and DOS for 8 seconds.”

sudo vim /etc/default/grub and in Vim /GRUB_TIMEOUT and replace with whichever integer you like, if 8 is too long, try perhaps 3 or maybe even 1 if you’re fast enough should you want to load a different X; :wsa to save and quit, sudo grub-update and that’s that.

36. shlstrm - 11 February, 2010

Sry, update-grub and not grub-update

37. Michael - 27 February, 2010

Sigh. Now i know why i held off updating linux recently.

Just when something starts to work properly and goes into maintenance mode, it gets completely messed up because ‘nobody is maintaining it anymore’, by being replaced with a new and untested, usually more complicated mess. e.g. pulse audio.

I have *never* ever had a problem with grub, since lilo started f*ing up and not booting properly half the time. Now this is a first for me, a brand new install of ubuntu 9.10 and it wont even boot. I get a ‘GRUB’ message and it stops. Completely dead. Not even any shell do to stuff – you know, one of the primary features of using it.

Grub was always a pita to install, but the menu file was simple and since it always just worked it never mattered.

Now i’ve got a system i can’t work out how to boot, a fucked up config file which is impossible to understand, that does shit i never needed in the first place.

38. George - 4 March, 2010

I’m all for trying new things, but grub2 is nowhere near usable. Sry.
Now to just get my computer to boot again…

39. Casey - 28 March, 2010

ZOMG … grub2 still sucks. Timeout is broken and so is the editenv command. WTF it’s 2010 already.

40. Adam - 30 March, 2010

hmm, wish I’d read this BEFORE I tried to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.4 Beta and Grub2 completely screwed my system up.

41. wisnoskij - 29 April, 2010

I do not believe how many people are defending Grub2.
I am sure I has many cool new features but when it add 2+ seconds to the booting time of a normal system that used to take 6 their is a problem.
When as far as I can tell their is nothing but hacks that could potentially cause future problems if you want to rename or reorder your menu entries, their is a problem.

Grub legacy: when I first edited my menu I knew nothing about grub but its name, but I managed to find the aptly named file menu.lst and change the ordering, names and time of the menu.
Grub2: After looking up many tutorials and using trial and error for hours was barely able to change some of the settings I wanted and figure out some cannot be changed.
+ It continues to take 4 times longer to boot then before grub2 was installed.
+ Had to change some things that could cause trouble in the future.
+ Some things that should of been changed when I edited the scripts and ran update-grub just did not change.

I am sure they will continue to improve grub2and it will eventually be a usable product but it currently is not.
But if they continue to use this extremely complex system for configuring Grub2, after we have all know the great ease of use of Grub original, then I will be disappointed.

wisnoskij - 29 April, 2010

first line * ‘adds 20+ seconds’

42. weltje - 12 May, 2010

I’m not sure what going wrong with my grub2 on my ubuntu 10. I install windows 7 after that I install ubuntu 10 with grub2. After using it 1 month, suddenly my computer can not boot up. No grub2 menu that appear when booting. I need to replace/reinstall grub2 on MBR to restore grub2. I experience this several time since ubuntu 9.10 where ubuntu start using grub2.

I suspect this because some bugs on grub2 but I may be wrong.

43. BFG - 20 July, 2010

The scary thing for me – apart from the problems with Grub2 – is that you identified the issues with handling multiboot environments nearly TWO YEARS AGO and still the same errors are being made…

44. m1th - 22 July, 2010

i never post these comments, but i’ve had it up to here. i’m a sys admin that runs over 40 servers + a couple hundred clients. it’s 2010, as stated, and to date i’ve never seen grub2 installed or updated on a system and successfully boot the system after reboot. i run debian sid in about 90% of environments, maybe it’s the automagic scripts, maybe it’s the intricacies of the hd formats, maybe you can blame whatever you want. i repeat, after installing grub2 on a fresh install or updating grub doing a dist-upgrade which i do all the frickin time to keep systems completely up-to-date. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ONE BOOT after grub2 is installed. I always have to hack away at it with the simplest solution usually being ‘apt-get install grub-legacy’. blame whatever you want, this is what is responsible for booting a system. it’s hard to read forums, search for man pages when your system won’t boot. just plain ridiculous to think this is justified or acceptable.

bugs… hmmm….. why can’t you figure out how to boot mdadm raid1 yet with metadata past 0.9x? not to mention the impossiblity of raid5 for whatever reason (yes i’ve read the details, figure it out).

i just have yet to figure out what truly tangible improvements grub2 has accomplished, it’s purpose is to boot a system. it feels like the lesson M$ learned with vista vs windows 7, give the users what they want, not what you think they want. i want my os to boot from a list of menus, and for god sakes get me to a menu i can edit and try to boot.

and what is ‘grub rescue’? the only commands i could figure out are ‘ls’ and ‘set’ which aren’t of much value. ‘boot’ throws an unspecific error. why the hell would you depreciate or not include ‘help’ or ‘?’ or ‘/?’ or tab-complete or anything of any use whatsoever?

like i said, i never post. but after going through this every 2 months or so for the last 2-3 years…. i’ve got a lot of gripes… i keep trying because i keep dreaming the devs will get their feet back on earth and get to the fundamentals.

45. RexRobinson - 6 October, 2010

Hundreds of millions of USB flash drives are currently in operation around the world, with the vast majority not offering proper USB Protection

46. trade - 23 October, 2010

actually, if you just edit the scripts in /etc/grub.d, you can change whatever you want in grub2, AND it works great. i have been editing grub2 and burg for the last few days, and the most difficulty ive had is when i try to do things without reading the documentation. then i go back and READ what THE DEVELOPERS told me to do in their readme files, and see that it was me who messed up, not grub2. seriously, if you’re going to be a moron and try to edit grub.cfg, which is generated from scrips that you are supposed to edit, then its your fault. dont blame the bootloader for operator error.

47. BFG - 23 October, 2010

What happens when you can’t even get into Linux to make the edits, because grub2’s failure to install correctly has screwed up journaling and so no edits are allowed until the journaling process has repaired the errors – except the journaling process can’t proceed unless you can get into Linux…

48. Misfit138 - 16 December, 2010

‘How to make something simple into something complicated in 64,737 easy steps’, or, ‘GRUB2: the next step backward in devolution’.

49. Okie - 16 February, 2011

It’s a stupid bit of arrogance to replace a simple working program with a complex program to do the same function!!!

50. Jim C. - 12 March, 2011

I have no interest in the internal workings of Linux or the bootloader. 3 1/2 weeks ago I had a working dual boot (DOS and XP) for my engineering work. I wanted a Linux to the drive for secure internet browsing and email. I tried to add Ubuntu 10.10. The installer didn’t recognize my existing OS’s and installed “grub2” to the MBR. That damaged my DOS and Windows boot. AND UBUNTU DIDN’T BOOT EITHER!

I went to the Ubuntu forum seeking help. For at least three days, I was told how wonderful “grub2” is, and to try again. I reformatted and reinstalled. STILL NO DOS, WINDOWS, or UBUNTU! No one on the Ubuntu forum would tell me how to fix my DOS and Windows. They were fixated on telling me how wonderful and reliable Grub2 and “OS-Prober” are. I couldn’t believe it!

I had to go to a Fedora forum to find out how to restore my DOS and Windows boot. I then tried to install Fedora 14 (apparently uses Grub Legacy). It too failed to detect my DOS and Windows installations. It installed Grub Legacy in the MBR without asking me for permission, and again screwed up my DOS and Windows. And Fedora wouldn’t run either!

At this point I had people from both forums telling me to run all sorts of confusing commands I did not understand from a terminal window to uninstall, reinstall GRUB legacy or GRUB2. NONE of which works! I was then told to download and boot from a SuperGrub disk. It would allow me to boot into any of my OS’s. Only it DIDN’T!

So I have been screwing around with this for 3 1/2 weeks. I still haven’t seen Linux boot. All I have seen is a flashing cursor “-“. The Ubuntu and Fedora “experts” can talk about the virtues of Grub Legacy, Grub2, OS- Prober, and the SuperGrub utility all they like. They didn’t work for me!

If this is how the Linux community introduces new users to the OS, then they shouldn’t be surprised if they people stop trying Linux.

I restored my MBR so DOS and Windows boot. I’d STILL like to Add Ubuntu or Fedora to the system. So if anyone out there can figure it out without confusing me with a hopelessly complex set of commands then please do contact me. I won’t keep doing reformats and reinstalls endlessly. All I am accomplishing with that is wearing out my drive.

I was told to manually install “grub” from the LIVE CD boot to to which I wanted to add Ubuntu 10.10. Why? I I created XT4 and Linux Swap partitions

51. Ron - 4 June, 2011

I thought about having a dedicated Grub2 partition which I could use to chainload other boot loaders as I choose.

In the process, I have been reminded how obtuse and difficult the Grub2 has become. For one thing, why on earth should Grub2 place files in /etc/? Common sense would place all relevant files in the grub directory. So,/etc…who needs this silly cloaking? When I have pocket change I place it into one pocket, not pennies in left side pocket, nickels in right rear pocket, quarters in watch pocket. This is just constipated thinking!

Now the Ubuntu devs are foisting some new gui/Gnome goop that no one wants or likes.

Well, perhaps we can think of it as evolution survival of the fittest.

52. mickrussom - 24 August, 2011

Grub2 is a sad lame piece of garbage. Its embarrassing. Its like Firefox, a bunch of know nothing losers took over and generate things the community hates. Its undocumented, messy, stupid, and a clear brainchild of a demented set of losers with no real jobs.

53. me - 4 September, 2011

Cannot be configured. Will not clear old entries and just adds more entries. Also gets partition numbering wrong so you boot the wrong OS.

54. Mira - 17 January, 2013

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to say that I have really loved browsing your weblog posts.
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55. Tania - 17 January, 2013

I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not sure
whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my difficulty.
You’re amazing! Thanks!

56. Extlinux_fixes_grub2 - 17 February, 2013

Grub2 is a complete disaster that is sabotaging linux. All we need is it to simply bootstrap a disk!

We have completely removed grub2 here and replaced it with extlinux (from syslinux project – boot ext2 instead of a CD) – on all ubuntu machines Oneiric and newer:

apt-get install extlinux
extlinux-install /dev/sda1

…done. No more grub to deal with, ever. Nice menus you can edit, sane, simple, easy to theme and professionally written as it should be. Much better now.

57. geoblock@yahoo.com - 11 September, 2013

The article OP is correct in all regards. GRUB2 has ruined 2 installations, with contents.

58. James Rushworth - 15 November, 2013

I recently installed GRUB2 on two machines (32bit & 64bit) using the Gentoo GRUB2 migration instructions.

The only problem I encountered is the configuration uses a shell function version_find_latest() which finds kernel-3.x-gentoo.prev before kernel-3.x-gentoo. I have two versions of the kernel so I can boot off the previous one if I have screwed up the new one.

I find it interesting that Gentoo stabilized GRUB2 five years after this thread started and then they installed it in a slot with GRUB Legacy left in place and detailed migration instructions (which worked perfectly) including how to keep using GRUB Legacy.

I have removed GRUB Legacy from both machines but I am in no hurry to install it on my other twenty machines. At least not until I come up with a patch for version_find_latest().

59. Alex - 7 February, 2014

OK so by the looks of it, the authors of grub managed to take the worst features of text files and binary files and devise a way to use a text file that cannot be edited. What a genius idea. Microsoft would be proud.

60. Kirby - 30 September, 2014

grub2 sucks. period.

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