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Old 06-29-2008, 05:36 PM   #1
rjlee
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Registered: Jul 2004
Distribution: Ubuntu 7.04
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Boot problems starting GRUB (Asus M2N4-SLI Deluxe)


I am having booting problems. When I boot, I get the normal BIOS messages, then text-mode with a flashing cursor in the top-left corner. No GRUB menu appears.

My new Ori-series desktop (http://efficientpc.co.uk/desktops/ori/) came pre-loaded with Ubuntu 8.04.

My Configuration (see link) is 1 Athlon64 dual core 4800+, 4x Corsair 2GB DDR667, 1x Nvidia Geforce 7300GT 256MB, 4x Samsung 1000GB SATA2 7200RPM 32MB.

As shipped, I had problems booting with my PS/2 mouse plugged in. But after unplugging it, everything worked and the system would boot straight in every time. The seller (Efficient PC, a Canonical approved vendor) only used the first hard disk and didn't set up software RAID or encryption, so I chose to re-install.

I installed from the Ubuntu 8.04 Alternate CD, and set up a RAID-1 (mirrored) array for the /boot partition (at the start of each disk), and RAID-5 for an encrypted / partition (I forgot to include swap). This eventually installed, but the process proved to be a rather buggy one (ie if I made one mistake I had to reboot and start again).

In order to make it boot from an encrypted RAID disk at all, I had to fix the crypttab (http://wiki.debian.org/DebianInstaller/RAIDvsCrypto) (basically just fixing up the crypttab file).

Having finally got the OS set up, I found I could only get the system to boot by booting from the install CD and selecting "boot from first hard disk". I tried installing grub onto the MBR of (hd0), and it made no difference; I could boot fine through the CD but not directly from the hard disk.

As an experiment, I ran
Code:
apt-get install mbr
and used that to install a new MBR boot-loader to chain the grub boot-loader installed on (hd0,0). This made no difference when telling the BIOS to boot from the hard disk. When booting from the CD, and chaining via the "boot from first hard disk" option, I got the boot-loader prompt asking me which partition to boot from; A selected advanced mode but no other keys (1 or Enter) had any visible effect (even though the grub boot-loader seemed to be installed on (hd0,0) successfully).

My attempts to re-install grub on (hd0) fail with warnings about ext3_stage1_5 not being found when I run setup from the grub prompt, and give a "not found" error when trying to select any option. So I guess I'm looking at yet another reinstall just to fix the MBR, but I doubt that will avoid the need to boot from a CD.

If it wasn't for the fact that this is a brand-new machine that booted straight into Hardy when I first got it, I'd say this was a straight-forward BIOS problem.

Does anyone know how I can diagnose this problem?
 
Old 06-29-2008, 06:10 PM   #2
mostlyharmless
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I have a similar setup, albeit with slackware, which works. Did you install grub from the CD or a boot floppy or did you install from within the running system? For some reason the boot floppy method worked more reliably in setup for me.

If you're using the boot floppy method, does 'find (hd0,0)/ext3_stage1_5 or menu.lst' find the grub files? The warning about not embedding is ok, but the files should be there under either /grub or /boot/grub...if not, it might help you diagnose the problem.

You might be able to avoid the reinstall by wiping the mbr with dd and reinstalling grub, better yet, restore the mbr if you've saved a copy.

Hope that helps.
 
Old 06-29-2008, 06:12 PM   #3
amani
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Maybe there is a hidden 1st partition somewhere?

And what does the vendor have to say?
 
Old 06-29-2008, 06:20 PM   #4
rjlee
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Distribution: Ubuntu 7.04
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I can't install Grub from a boot floppy. At least, not without some significant pain in finding a floppy drive, and a floppy disk that still works.

I will check what find returns in the morning; the machine is powered down just now and takes an age to boot up.

I didn't think to save a copy of the MBR. How would I go about wiping it with dd?

I don't know if the vendor used Grub or lilo. After I reinstalled, Grub was installed originally from the install CD, then again several times from the rescue option on the install cd (running / from the harddisk in a chroot jail).

There are no hidden partitions, at least not showing up on fdisk, and no mention in the BIOS.

I haven't heard from the vendor yet; I only asked them about this yesterday through their website (I suspect they're closed for the weekend).

Edit: I was also able to use find to find one of the boot files (not the stage1_5 file) on (hd0,0), so I think that the first partition seen by grub is actually a /boot partition. I also think it's my one (rather than a vendor-supplied hidden one) since I was able to successfully enable the menu by changing the grub.conf file.

Last edited by rjlee; 06-29-2008 at 06:22 PM. Reason: additional info
 
Old 06-29-2008, 06:42 PM   #5
mostlyharmless
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So 'find' finds the grub files but setup fails to find the same files? Curious.
If you don't have a boot floppy, maybe a live cd would be better than the installed system; worth a try...

Wiping the mbr:
dd if=/dev/zero of=/root/dev/hda bs=446 count=1
but do the reverse first
dd if=/dev/hda of=/root/hda.mbr bs=446 count=1
and put hda.mbr somewhere you can get it again!
as seen in
http://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Dd
 
Old 07-01-2008, 11:47 AM   #6
rjlee
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Registered: Jul 2004
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Well, my problem is solved thanks to the people at Efficient finally getting back to me.

What was happening was that the BIOS and GRUB had different ideas about which hard disk they were supposed to be booting from.

Since my BIOS won't let me change the boot order, the proposed solution was to set up grub on the MBR of each hard disk:
Code:
sudo grub
grub> device (hd0) /dev/sda
grub> root (hd0,0)
grub> setup (hd0)
grub> device (hd0) /dev/sdb
grub> root (hd0,0)
grub> setup (hd0)
grub> device (hd0) /dev/sdc
grub> root (hd0,0)
grub> setup (hd0)
grub> device (hd0) /dev/sdd
grub> root (hd0,0)
grub> setup (hd0)
grub> quit
This worked, insofar as GRUB would start, but I still got an error 15: File Not Found.

I then had a brainstorm, and tried editing the option before I booted it, and removing the /boot prefix, which cleared that error and the system booted!

Rather than mess around any more with the OS-installed grub boot files, I figured the easiest permanent fix to the error 15 was to create a symbolic link from /boot/boot to /boot (so the paths would be right when booting from grub).

Rebooted and all worked as it was supposed to!

A week to install an OS, but I am now happy again.

Hope that helps someone else,

—Robert J Lee
 
  


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