Linux forum


Need help installing/configuring Grub

by tumbleweed_biff / September 6, 2012 8:43 AM PDT


I have Windows XP installed in the first partition and installed LinuxMint Maya in a second (logical) partition. LM set up a boot\grub directory on the Linux partition instead of the Windows C:\ partition so system still boots straight to windows with no option to get to the Linux.

Obviously, I did something wrong but don't know what.
How can I now install Grub 2 so that I can use it to boot to either Windows or Linux?

I can only get to Linux by booting the Mint Maya DVD.
I have already copied the \boot folder from the Linux partition to the Windows c:\ partition, so I believe the appropriate files are in place. I just need to configure the boot.ini to bring up the grub menu and then offer the appropriate boot choices from there.

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Clarification Request
It appears you didn't install Grub at all.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 6, 2012 8:53 AM PDT

There is documentation such as but from what I read, you didn't install Grub into the boot areas of the HDD.

Yes you have Grub on the other area but it's not what is booting according to what I see here.

Try again. This time review your install. And I never give direct advice on this because most folk never have a backup of what they can't lose.

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More info ...
by tumbleweed_biff / September 6, 2012 10:48 AM PDT

Thanks for your response Bob.

Actually, I *do* have a backup of everything. At this point, the XP install is a clean install and I haven't actually restored the user data, just installed basic apps, updates, etc., so nothing tragic if it gets lost.

According to the documentation I have found, the LinuxMint (Maya - release 13) is supposed to offer me the opportunity to install Mint alongside of an existing install. The only options I get are to install to sda (the 80 gig drive where XP already has a 55 gig partition) and manual. My understanding of the prompts is that if I choose the first option, I will lose my XP install which I'd prefer to avoid.

When doing the manual, I specified to install Mint on a freshly created 25 gig partition of the primary drive using EXT4 and a mount point of '\'. I specified a new 5 gig partition on HDD2 for the swap file. When the install completed, there was a \boot\grub directory on the Mint partition, but the system boot was not modified so that the machine only booted to Windows.

At this point I have erased the Mint partition and the swap file partition so am ready to start over.

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I see a little "confuser"
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 7, 2012 2:35 AM PDT
In reply to: More info ...

Where we install Mint is one thing but in your first post you apparently installed grub to the second drive as well.

Grub must be on the first, the boot, the drive that the BIOS uses to boot from. And to confuse folk more, the Grub config files can indeed be elsewhere but the actual Grub bootloader or the code that is booting must be on the drive that is booting.

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Re Install
by ramusson / September 9, 2012 7:09 PM PDT
In reply to: More info ...

If you intend to reinstall Mint, I'd suggest installation on the Second HDD taking care to put the Grub on "hdb" (2nd HDD). This is possible, since Linux gives an option to choose the location to install Grub if there is more than 1 drive.

This way, your boot info on the XP drive is untouched. If you choose to boot from Drive 1, Win XP takes over; if from Drive 2, Linux Mint takes over.

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A bit more reading ...
by tumbleweed_biff / September 10, 2012 9:08 PM PDT
In reply to: Re Install

One of the problems I have with a great deal of product documentation is when the author has a number of underlying assumptions ... One of the things which makes me very good at QA and documentation is my ability to think like a noob ... which in this case, I actually am ...

The problem comes in the documentation's underlying assumptions regarding the user's understanding of Linux and its installation requirements and standards.

I wasn't aware that I needed a separate partition for the boot and the home directories, so I only made one partition with a mount-point of \ ... I also wasn't aware that I needed to specify things regarding grub2 in the bottom section of the screen. After a bit of trial and error, I figured out that I needed a separate /boot and /home partition and mount- point, along with having the swap on yet another partition. I think I also did a third /usr mount-point, but can't recall for sure at the moment. I then also told Grub2 where to go -- the C drive. Installation ran fin then and everything is happy.

Now the fun part is figuring out Linux file extensions, how to use apps, and some rather tedious security and installation issues. For example, I downloaded the LInux JRE as I need to install the most recent. I have tried 3 different package managers so far, and none of them want to help me install Java and none of them list the true Oracle JRE as an installable option - just the openJRE and such, which are not as current. I wasn't aware of LibreOffice and also was trying ot install OpenOffice. Following the instructions they provided were simply in error. Such as with OpenOffice, it tells you to unzip (tar z... xxx) the package and then there is supposed to be a specific directory structure created. I used copy paste to avoid typo's so I KNOW that I executed the command *EXACTLY* as instructed, but the _OO* directory wasn't created. Instead there was one that was something EN (obviously "English") and then under there were 3 more, DEB and two others. OpenOffice's directions didn't mention these directories or how to address them and what files needed to be used. Instead the user is pointed off into la-la land. I am sure to you old hands that it is of no challenge, but to me, it was frustratingly insurmountable. On top of that, none of the package installers which came with Mint seemed to want to be of searvice and all refused to acknowledge the existence of the software. I decided that then was a good time to do some comparisons of OpenOffice vs. LibreOffice. Java is still not installed.

When writing instructions for such things, you can't just say "run the install logged on as root" for example. Uh, what's root and how do I log on as it? What is the install [file] and how do I run it? I at least had a bit of a clue on the root logon, knowing root referenced essentially the admin, but didn't know how to actually do it. On Windows, that's easy, right click on the command prompt icon and choose "run as administrator" ... There were a number of issues like that where a level of knowledge was assumed which should not be when dealing with a product hyped as being particularly well-suited for noobs.

I suppose that as I embark on this journey I should keep a log of all the little things like this which will cause a neophyte issues, and could probably turn them into a book ...

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install location -
by tumbleweed_biff / September 10, 2012 9:27 PM PDT
In reply to: Re Install

I wanted to add:
The 2nd HDD is half the size of the first. I wanted to put the Linux on the first drive with Windows so that t there would be the option displayed on the screen to boot either/or and I wanted the 2nd drive to be used just for swap files and data security/redundancy. All the user data will be backed up to the second hdd. Given the age of this machine (P4 2.8 gHz, no HT), I want to tweak in as much performance as possible by having a fixed sized swap file for Linux and Windows on the least used HDD. (fixed sized not only eliminates the need for dynamic allocation of space, but it also keeps the swap file from becoming fragmented across the drive. Putting the LInux install on it would reduce performance and interfere with over all goals. It is also an IDE system, so the two HDDs will be the master on both channels ... if I can get the cables routed to do that ... I am hoping that round cables will help where ribbons fail. That is a project for later today. Most people put the HDDs on one channel and the CD/DVD, etc. on the other. However, IDE can only communicate to one device per channel at a time, so if you have two drives, it can only talk to one. If you are moving things from one drive to another or copying a CD for example then the system has to get the data from the one drive, then reroute it back to the other, severing the conversation with the first, leaving it to stand there and wait. By using both controllers, one controller can be receiving data while the other is transmitting. So you really want to have your most used HDD combined with your least used media drive and vice-versa. For HDD to HDD or CD/DVD to CD/DVD, that will potentially double your data throughput for disk to disk transference. Of course then you use your most used media/optical drive to transfer to your most-used HDD, least used media drive to the least used hdd ... this scenario is one few people addressed. Most just put HDD's on one and the media/opticals on the other, never realizing the performance hit they were taking as a result. Same for putting the swap file on the most used partition of the least used HDD and making it fixed sized to eliminate fragmentation.

With SATA, you don't have to think about such things anymore.

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