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I installed Vector Linux 5.8, which installs Lilo by default, so I told it not to install Lilo because I prefer GRUB. My partition is simple and looks like:
Part 1: root (/), bootable, beginning of h/d, ext3 fs
Part 2: swap, end of h/d, linux swap fs
I used a GRUB disk to boot Vector Linux (VL) and downloaded GRUB .97. I then untarred it and ran ./configure, make, make install, make clean. The whole process did not produce any errors and it created a i386-dc directory with stage1, stage2, and a bunch of other files in it. I then created a /boot/grub directory and copied all of the files under i386-pc in there. I also took a menu.lst template and added the follwoing to the end of the file:
title Vector Linux 5.8 Standard Gold
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/hdb1 ro
Then I started the command line and went to grub and entered:
grub> root (hd0,0)
grub> setup (hd0)
It ran without errors. I then rebooted and was presented with the GRUB boot screen. Vector Linux is highlighted and when I press enter, it says "Error 15: File not found". I go back to the GRUB boot screen and from there to the GRUB command line and enter exactly the same thing as there is in the menu.lst file (although here there are = signs, but the info is the same):
I tried that and it starts booting the OS and prints a bunch of stuff to the monitor (as usual, when it's loading) and then it fails to load the OS and says:
Cannot open root device "hda" or unknown block (0,0)
Please append a correct "root=" boot option
Kernel panic - not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block (0,0)
When I use root=/dev/hdb1, it loads just fine. I am not a computer guru, but I think that it should be /dev/hda1, as you said, because it is the only h/d on my computer. However, everything says hdb1, for example, I used Gparted LiveCD and it says hdb1, df shows hdb1, etc.
This all looks normal....I assume that there is a CD or something on hda, but no matter. If you tell the bios to boot from hard disk (that is the default), it will go to hdb.
Try this---just for the sake of eliminating some variables. Change your cabling and/or jumpers so that the harddrive shows up as hda. For example, a normal setup would be the harddrive as primary master, and the CD (or whatever) as Secondary master. Once you do this, then you will need to set up the grub configuration with the kernel line pointing to /dev/hda1
Change the BIOS? No--if it goes to a hard drive at all, it goes to the MBR. Nothing to change