[single *_grub_* partition for many distros]

Joe(theWordy)Philbrook jtwdyp at ttlc.net
Thu Sep 24 17:54:31 UTC 2009

It would appear that on Sep 20, Goh Lip did say:

> Very detailed and good explanation, Joe. I would have failed to explain 
> even a fraction of what I was doing. However, bear in mind a few points.
> o Karmic will install grub2 as default, your <dedicated>grub in (hd0,2) 
> <sda3> is presumably in grub legacy. You can still boot karmic by 
> chainloading (which you are now doing); but I would recommend you 
> convert this sda3 to grub2.

Does that mean that "grub legacy" is incapable of booting Karmic without
> o You need not mount this grub partition (sda3) at all.
I usually only mount it to copy and edit files when I make changes in it.

> o If you set boot in sda 3 as
>    configfile and chainload
> to the various partitions, you need not worry about even manually 
> editing this grub menu at all, whatever kernel upgrades or even new 
> installations. It can be there forever without editing anything in it. 
> (but I do edit it to just arrange the first OS to boot, and I do add my 
> favourite OS (hardy and karmic) with kernel info (cut and paste) so to 
> bypass the 2nd grub menu so it's faster, but it is not really necessary. 

My reasons for usually using my own grub to boot directly include the fact
that it's been a long time since I've been comfortable with the grub
files written by any distro. I insist on NEVER seeing a splash screen
during boot, I explicitly use vga=normal to get a console font size my
poor eyesight can actually read. I insist on ALL of the boot time messages
to actually scroll up my screen. I disable gui login screens and use
startx when and if I choose to start the gui. And I do not like graphics
cluttering up my grub menu... This (from my menu.lst):

# Pretty colors
#color cyan/blue white/blue
color green/blue white/blue

might tell you what I expect my grub menu to look like...
(If grub2 is phasing out my grub, I sure hope it still supports such a 
simplistic yet colorful menu that does highlight the currently selected 

> When new kernels emerge, just edit say 2.6.31-10 to 2.6.31-11)
> In short, you need not copy new kernels or initrds to sda3 under any 
> circumstance.

Except that I use:

root            (hd0,2)

for ALL of my grub entries that do not chainload the Distro's native grub. 
Thus grub applies the pathnames for the kernel and initrd files relative 
to /dev/sda3. It's no burden to copy those files with mc. I set up a noauto
mountpoint for my grub partition on /root/boot. So I simply do a:
$ su -c mc
# cd
# mount boot
and then once I'm looking at /boot on one mc panel, and /root/boot on the
other... the rest is easy.
> o grub2 allows boot to iso files through looping, so if you have a 
> livecd or other programs (gparted, anti-virus etc), you need not burn 
> and run through cd boots. You may want to include entries at your sda3 
> to do just this.

This is the first thing I've heard to make me even 'think' about switching
to grub2... 
> o For any new installation, it will by default set it in mbr, in 
> kubuntu, you can circumvent this by setting this to the OS / partition. 
> If you forget, you can always reset the sda3 grub back. {one funny thing 
> though, in karmic where grub2 is default, the naming convention for 
> setting this is still (hd0,4) for sda5, for example, while grub2 
> convention should be (hd0,5), but that was in alpha1, does anybody know 
> how it is in alpha6?}
      ?           ?		
        -=-   -=-
        <?>   <?>
            ^        <Hunh?>

      ?           ?

Do you mean that grub2 is supposed to stop numbering it's partitions 
with "0"???? so that it should now refer to the first partition of the first
drive as (hd0,1)??? If they were going to do this then for consistency sake
they should also start numbering the hard drives with 1 also...
IE making the first harddrive (hd1) instead of (hd0). Personally I'd prefer
it if they left the naming convention alone... To me the (hd*) translates 
to including the 0 in the numbering schema... I suppose I could live with 
the idea that most new users would find a numbering schema that started 
with 1 instead of 0 less confusing. especially if the numbering schema was 
applied across the board to both drives and partitions. But to have to
remember that drives are numbered one way, while partitions are numbered
another would be most annoying.

> o Grub2 come with new commands and methods and we need to relearn all 
> this. My only concern is that these are done through the linux command 
> lines and not at the grub> shell. So if all my linux OS 
> fails...(unlikely, but...still my 'sda3' will boot to new and working 
> installations)

Wait a minute. It took me a LONG time to get used to the grub shell. But 
now the idea of phasing it out in favor of direct Linux commands is very
disturbing. Please tell me that you mean that there are new Linux commands
that can manipulate grub2 for me, but that grub2 itself still incorporates
the grub shell.
# grub
Either way, here's hoping that once karmic and/or other Linux distro gives
me grub2, that "man grub2" and or "info grub2" will produce documentation
that is written for those who don't already understand grub2 rather than
something that's really only intended for IT pros to understand. Of course I
think the best way to do that is to include a wide range of command line
examples rather than just assuming that a technical description of what each
option does will do...


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