Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

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Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby PussyCat on Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:08 am

More accurately Ubiquity does! "Ubiquity is a synonym for omnipresence, the property of being present everywhere" (Wikipedia).

Over the past few years I have looked at various versions of Mint from Elyssa onwards in Gnome/Xfce forms. All have worked well at the livecd stage - my favourite being Helena Gnome. However, installation and grub have too frequently given me nightmares. Up to a week ago, I was content with Helena on 2 machines, Gloria on 2 and Elyssa on another. My aim had been to get Helena onto all but after a couple of catastrophes gave up on that objective.

Now I plucked up courage to try again to risk the protracted excruciating procedure to install Mint 13 Xfce (because of the lts). All went well on first 2 machines (the Helena ones which has been retained).

I should perhaps explain that all machines are multi-boot with two versions of Win (98/XP or Vista/XP) and at least 4 linux partitions plus various htfs data partitions. Access at level one is via Boot Magic or bcd respectively then grub in each linux partition. This arrangement is fine for all other distros but too often confuses the Mint installer.

Now to machine 3. After the usual protracted scans ( probing where no one has probed before ), Maya installed. Rebooted and it loaded fine. But then I discovered that four of the other linux partitions had become unbootable - their grubs had disappeared! Less disastrous than the aforementioned catastrophes but nevertheless "inconvenient". Yet, being partisan, Gloria was still accessible, so decided to install Helena there which apparently was not a problem - until I rebooted and it was still Gloria!

I tried installing other distros to other partitions but no joy - they were still inaccessible. Ok, let's try pre-formatting a partition to ext2 (rather ext3/4 or leaving as is). Install distro1 to sda11 and bingo - accessible. Try same "trick" with distro2 to sda12 and it works. Try next partition and install Helena - but no not accessible, no grub!

Mmmm...

What is Ubiquity doing to my systems? Is it trying to live up to its name and be god-like, creating an image in its own likeness? It has absolutely no right to make any "adjustments" to my system that it has not been given explicit permission to do. Surely all it needs to do is look at the partition table and not modify partition boundaries (for instance) to suit its own view of the universe?

I suppose the bottom line right now is how can grub(2?) be (re)installed to partitions that have been "modified" by Ubiquity? I've done some research but none of it looks pretty.
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Re: Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby bigj231 on Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:32 am

I assume you're using the manual partitioning?

You should be able to just install GRUB 2 on one partition and use it to boot all of your other operating systems.

Reinstalling GRUB is pretty easy though. Look up the Ubuntu boot repair project. https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Boot-Repair I have used it with success on single and dual-boot systems. I've always used VMs when I wanted more than 2 operating systems.

Oh, and Ubiquity is the Ubuntu installer. If you don't get any more replies here, ask on the Ubuntu forums. Mint 13 == Precise Pangolin/12.04.
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Re: Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby PussyCat on Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:09 pm

Thanks for the link. Have downloaded Boot Repair and will chance a spin (from usb) but with some trepidation - especially given the first bullet point...

"runs automatically Boot-Repair rescue tool at start-up"

Anything like this threatening to be automatic fills me with dread! I want to be in control of such a delicate exercise. It was Ubiquity's interference that caused my problems in the first place and I'll bet this utility uses some of the same code.

I do not want Grub anywhere near the mbr. The only reason I have grub at all in each linux partition is because it seems to be the only way of loading linux once it has been reached via EasyBcd (or Boot Magic). I'm not interested in the fact that it can then chain-load another o/s and would happily do without all the other entries and set the delay to zero.

And yes I choose manual install - having, in haste selected "alongside" on one occasion which resulted in installing to a small spare partition at sda17 that I didn't know was there, wasn't accessible to Grub and me needing to repair mbr!

[PS Also downloading linux_secure_remix]
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Re: Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby bigj231 on Mon Apr 08, 2013 7:16 pm

I still don't understand why you don't want to have GRUB load all the operating systems. I don't care for the windows setup (EasyBCD in your case) as I've had too many issues with it randomly removing boot options, or showing the boot menu after I explicitly told it not to. Also, the redundant GRUB setup seems quite pointless to me, and a waste of disk space. I'm sure you have your reasons though, so let's just agree to disagree instead of starting a long debate.

The boot repair CD is mostly meant to reinstall GRUB after you break something. It doesn't automatically start fixing stuff as soon as you boot it, as that would be very upsetting. It just starts the tool, as that's the only thing that's installed. Since you are getting linux_secure_remix, you won't have much use for the boot repair CD.

To load Linux, you could always use LILO or syslinux if you really dislike GRUB. Most people use GRUB because it works well enough and they don't have much reason to change. And it's superior to the other options IMO.
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Re: Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby PussyCat on Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:01 pm

My experience is the antithesis of yours and the reason why I'm in this pickle - but as you say we'll agree to differ!

This situation occurred after LM13 in some way modified/adjusted the boot record for each linux partition whilst correctly installing grub into its partition but leaving Windows and itself still accessible via Boot Magic. The contents of the other linux partitions are still there, but just a blank screen and flashing underscore when selected.

Anyway, tried boot-repair and linux-secure but that's all they offer - to place grub into sda with no option to place it in a partition?

I've reinstalled LM8 three times but each time BM cannot reach grub. I suspect that LM13+Ubiquity modified the hdd geometry and/or partition table. Perhaps I should try removing the entry from BM then add it back in - but, no, that doesn't work!
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Re: Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby bigj231 on Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:46 pm

Can you chroot into a different distro and install the bootloader in one of them? That's the only new thing that has come to my mind.
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Re: Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby nerdtron on Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:15 am

PussyCat wrote:Anyway, tried boot-repair and linux-secure but that's all they offer - to place grub into sda with no option to place it in a partition?


I don't know you reasons for trying to install GRUB to other partitions either so I'll leave to decide there. But for me on this setup, I'll just install GRUB in /dev/sda and let manage all OS upon boot up. Easy to do, easy to manage, no hassle and always works for me. But maybe you have reasons so it's up to you.
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Re: Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby PussyCat on Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:06 am

As discussed earlier that is my preferred model which has worked perfectly hitherto for many years but we have agreed to disagree. And I can't be alone in that, otherwise why do installers offer the option to place grub into a parition?

I'll perhaps look at the chroot approach.

In the meantime, further ferreting around has revealed the possible problem (though not the cause) - menu.ist is not being created in the /boot/grub folder?
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Re: Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby bigj231 on Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:59 am

I can't check for certain as I am using GRUB-EFI. I do not have a menu.list. I believe it has been superseded by the grub.cfg file, which you no longer edit. As it says in the header:
Code: Select all
#
# DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE
#
# It is automatically generated by grub-mkconfig using templates
# from /etc/grub.d and settings from /etc/default/grub
#


Some things to read: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2, https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/GRUB2#Configuration
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Re: Mints reach parts others can't reach - oops!

Postby PussyCat on Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:41 am

Yes - I was about to edit my last post : grub.cfg does exist in /boot/grub/. So why doesn't grub launch? I can only assume that where BM points is no longer valid and cannot be corrected...

Interesting that your first link confides "...to provide the user significantly increased flexibility...". No it doesn't, given the dire warning at the beginning of grub.cfg!

Not sure how the situation can be sorted as it would appear the links assume one is in the system which, of course, I'm not - that's the problem!

As previously intimated, the install of LM8 seems to be complete but the Ubiquity tentacles during LM13 install have made it inaccessible to BM (though I successfully (re)installed a couple of distros after LM13 made them inaccessible but LM8 just won't become available whatever I try).

And, although listed in Maya Grub Menu, Helena won't launch from there either. I'm suspecting that the partition table and/or partition boot record are corrupt in some way?
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