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Conquests of a Linux convert. What I learn, and problems I have solved along the way.
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To Grub2 or Not To Grub2

Posted 04-09-2010 at 01:51 PM by Jaysonfw

The worst feeling in the the world for a Linux user that is still a bit green, is the feeling you get when you reboot your machine, and instead of being greeted by your login screen, you see a GRUB>> prompt. 'What the heck am I suppose to do with that' I says to myself, as that sinking feeling settles in once again...

So there I was at 3:00am after spending hours trying to get GRUB2 to play nice.

Let me first say that I am not what anyone would call a Linux expert. At best I am an accomplished noob! I have known people who used Linux. I had worked around Linux systems in the past. I had even installed it once 10 or 15 years ago, to see what it was like, but for one reason or another, reverted back to MS. I, like many spent many many years in the mental clutches of MS OS's, and only recently, switched to Linux exclusively as my OS of choice. Sick of the crazy swings MS was making between XP Vista and Seven, I decided that since I was in the market for a new laptop, if I ever was going to seriously consider switching from MS systems, now would be the time. I downloaded an iso of Ubuntu 8.04 installed it first thing, and never looked back.

This whole GRUB2 thing started when I recalled how cool it was to see all that text scrolling up the screen when those Linux systems that I remembered first booted up. But when my system (now Kubuntu 9.10) started up, all I saw was graphics. No text at all. Just the Gurb boot loader counting down. After doing some surfing, i decided to comment out the KDM line in my /etc/X11/default_display_manager file. Still no text though. A bit more digging revealed the "quiet splash" entries in my /boot/grub/menu.lst file. I removed them, and WA-LA! At the next boot up I was greeted by a steady stream of text that was similar to what I remembered seeing many years ago. Some of it, I even understood! The only problem was that the text on my screen was huge. Nothing like the eye squinting text I recalled. How do I get that? ...more digging revealed a vga entry in that same menu.lst file would do the trick. Now by this time it is about 1:00 in the morning, and I am fighting to keep my eyelids open. I suppose that was my fist clue that trouble was a-brewin. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to figure out how to know what value to set vga equal to. Got it! Everything was working just fine eye squinting text at boot and everything. Then tragedy. I read something about GRUB2 being the latest and greatest in GRUBdum. Well if GRUB rendered such wonderful results, then GRUB2 aught to be twice as good. Right?

Wrong!! GRUB2 had me in tears within minutes of installing. ...and what was worse, was that my eye squinting boot up text was now replaced with even huger text at boot, than before. ...and what was even worser still was that GRUB2 refused to go away. After uninstalling this and reconfiguring that and then installing that, nothing seemed to work. I could still boot up my system though, and I guess that should have been good enough. But I guess I am a bit obsessive, and just booting up was not enough. I wanted my eye squinting text back. In a fit of sleep depraved desperation, I opened up a terminal and typed the following:

sudo apt-get install grub2
sudo reboot

For the love of God! Never do that on your own system. Those 40 or so characters reduced me from tears of frustration to an absolute catatonic eye popping, jaw dropping panic. You might be able to guess what I saw once my computer rebooted. Thats right, that cursed GRUB>> prompt. I didn't even shutdown. I closed the laptop lid, and schlepped my way to bed. Hardly able to sleep thinking about the carnage I had released on my laptop. The next morning thinking a bit clearer, I surfed for "How to boot from GRUB" That led me to using the Live CD to boot up, mount the file system, proc, sys and dev partitions, and chroot to /bin/bash. I'll spare you the details, but from there I was able to insure that all traces of GRUB2 were removed. I then reinstalled GRUB and ran install-grub. To my unmeasurable joy, I was able to boot up once again.

I am sure that some of these woes was due to my lack of experience, (which has increased tremendously as a result of this experience), but in response to the question
To GRUB2 or not to GURB2?
My answer is a resounding defining roar at the top of my lungs, DO NOT GRUB2!

To blazes with GRUB2... Long live GRUB. At least for now anyway!
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  1. Old Comment
    You are not the only one that feels that way. I have told myself that I am going to take a weekend and learn to work with grub2. But when you can work with the old it is hard to discard and learn something completely new especially when the old works so well.
    Posted 04-09-2010 at 07:11 PM by Larry Webb Larry Webb is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Originally Posted by Larry Webb View Comment
    You are not the only one that feels that way. I have told myself that I am going to take a weekend and learn to work with grub2. But when you can work with the old it is hard to discard and learn something completely new especially when the old works so well.
    ...and on top of that, the new is so completely different from the old. It's hard to determine if my troubles are totally from lack of experience, or a totally substandard product. Glad (and a bit sad) to see I'm not the only one.
    Posted 04-09-2010 at 07:33 PM by Jaysonfw Jaysonfw is offline


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