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Old 10-07-2010, 10:50 PM   #1
Registered: Sep 2007
Distribution: Ubuntu Lucid
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Grub is broken, LiveCD won't boot

The computer I'm using is a Dell Vostro 1000. If you need any specific stats, let me know and I'll post them, but I don't have access to anything that will list them.

As of this afternoon, Grub will not longer boot. I don't know what prompted it; the only change I made was to the power management settings and installing IcedTea. It brings me to "BusyBox" after saying "No init found. Try passing init= bootarg." Then it brings me to some command prompt that doesn't respond to most bash commands I know, and it says "(initramfs)."

I had that problem two or three weeks ago after Fedora broke Grub, but I fixed it by using "grub-install" in an Ubuntu LiveCD. (No easy task to find what command I needed to use, though.)

But, now the LiveCD won't load. It hangs on the splash screen that just says "Ubuntu" with the dots underneath that indicate it's loading. This exact same disk (and I've reburned it, of course) worked fine when I had to clean up the mess that Fedora made. I tried switching to a terminal at the point where it hangs and there are no messages at all.

I already tried using acpi = off and burning the disk at the slowest speed (from two different computers).

I tried with the Mepis LiveCD, but the GUI just shows a blank screen. I can run commands using Alt+F2, and the cursor is visible, but that's it. I can switch to a terminal, but I can barely use grub-install at all as it is, and I can't figure out how to mount a drive through the command line.

An older version of a Sabayon Linux LiveCD works fine, but, unfortunately, doesn't do anything useful. I haven't tried Knoppix because it never worked on this computer.

If there are any other distros that I can use to run grub-install (preferably lightweight; I'm getting impatient downloading so many 700 mb iso files), I'm open to suggestion. Those are just the ones that I'm familiar with already.

I'm downloading Ubuntu 9.10 now, but I don't have much hope for it. I guess I'll try a Debian LiveCD, too.

If anybody has any suggestions at all, it would be greatly appreciated. This has really screwed things up for me right now because it's the computer that I bring to school with me (I'm a math grad student and I use Maxima all the time).

Edit: Got Mepis working... For some reason it didn't occur to me to run it in failsafe mode. (I wish Ubuntu still had safe mode. I'm going to try deactivating everything for the boot options next.) Nevertheless, not helpful. Apparently, the Mepis Grub didn't recognize the Ubuntu install or something. I don't know; that's kind of a guess. Because now it brings me to a Grub prompt.

Edit: This happens almost every time I post a question on a forum. The answer just came to me almost immediately after posting. Now, rest assured, I exhausted every option I could imagine before I posted, but, as if by divine revelation, I had the idea to boot the Ubuntu LiveCD by enabling every single one of those stupid special options that you get by pushing F6. It took a very long time to boot up the CD after that, but it worked, and I was able to get grub-install working again. I still have no idea why Grub broke, but, at any rate, it's working now. Sorry for the wasted post.

Last edited by adanedhel728; 10-07-2010 at 11:35 PM.
Old 10-08-2010, 02:15 AM   #2
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Grub didn't break.
Else you wouldn't have got the splash screen or busybox.

Whatever your problem was/is, it was after grub had done it's job.
Old 10-08-2010, 06:38 AM   #3
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Fedora uses grub-legacy. Ubuntu uses grub2. Trying to "fix" one using the other is a sure way to mess up everything.

The Ubuntu and Fedora and most (I hesitate to say all) other live CDs use the isolinux bootloader - your live CD problem is not a grub problem (but is probably a video driver problem).
Old 10-09-2010, 12:23 AM   #4
Registered: Sep 2007
Distribution: Ubuntu Lucid
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Well, I didn't intend on saying anything offensive, so I apologize if I did.

I don't know precisely what caused the problem; I just know that grub-install from a livecd is what fixed it.

I actually wasn't trying to use Fedora to fix the Ubuntu problem. That was an unrelated incident that resulted in a similar problem, which is why I referenced it. The problem with Fedora was that I was trying to dual-boot Fedora and Ubuntu with Ubuntu already installed. It was just a nightmare and in the end I decided it wasn't worth the effort. Fedora's grub didn't list Ubuntu and I couldn't figure out how to get it on there, so I just got rid of that partition and tried to restore Ubuntu's mbr, and in the process of trying to figure out how to use grub-install, I had the same problem, the (initramfs) prompt would come up instead of the OS. Finally figuring out how to run grub-install fixed it.

The new problem was related in that somehow, and I still don't have any idea what prompted this, it brought me to that (initramfs) prompt every time I started up my computer again. That's really where the relationship to the Fedora issue begins and ends, and why they ultimately had the same solution, being grub-install.

I tried to use Mepis to fix the Ubuntu problem, though. It didn't work. I just assumed that using grub-install from any livecd would detect what operating systems were installed and then install grub accordingly. Apparently I was wrong. Obviously, I'm not an expert. And I don't actually know whether Mepis uses Grub 1 or 2.

I wouldn't be surprised if it were a video card problem, now that you mention it. I've had problems with this video card before. I never really thought that the two problems were related; I was just frustrated that I had to fix the fix before I could fix my computer.
Old 10-09-2010, 01:02 PM   #5
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Mixing grubs is a recipe for trouble that I pray that I'm avoiding every time I install a new distro. My boot partition uses grub-legacy. My current setup is to just chainload each installed distro's grub; the downside is that I have to edit the boot partitions's grub.conf file manually when I create a new partition.

As for video - my desktop PC has onboard GeForce 9100 graphics, which doesn't play nicely with the nv driver (in either Fedora or Ubuntu) or with Ubuntu's version of the nouveau driver. The nouveau driver works fine with Fedora 13 and above. adding xdriver=vesa (and possibly nomodeset) to the kernel parameters while booting might let you boot.


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