[SOLVED] EFI dual boot Grub failed (includes killing W8)

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expat_tony
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[SOLVED] EFI dual boot Grub failed (includes killing W8)

Post by expat_tony »

It appears that either I no longer have the grub we put so much effort into creating in an EFI dual boot partition (sdb2), or else it exists but Windows 8 is ignoring it and has mounted a successful takeover bid. That grub was called ubuntu in the setup menu (an automatic choice, not mine). In order to do a live boot yesterday, I promoted the USB above it. After I removed the USB just now, it loaded the Windows boot menu, THIRD on my list after the USB and 'ubuntu'. Repeated attempts got the same result.

This is the last straw, Windows 8 is going. I'll use XP on my 2nd machine for my limited Windows needs. But now I almost certainly need a fresh install. Or do I? Do you think you can help me avoid doing something rash - i.e. destroying a customised Mint that'll take hours and hours to re-create?

I have a couple of questions:
Is it possible to see inside sdb2 somehow? It's not on my list of Places visible with Nemo on the live USB, where I am now.
Without disturbing sda1 - the Mint /, and sdb9 - the Mint /home, would it be possible to delete all Windows partitions and create a new bootloader going straight to sda1?
Or would it be enough just to create that new bootloader and leave everything else?
Failing that, what would be the best (freely downloadable) tool to make a copy of sda1 and update my copy of sdb9? I may already have your choice of tool, if not, I'll get it.
EDIT: Actually, making copies is the easy part. The tool needs to be really reliable for overwriting an existing new install on sda1, which I may have to make to move forward.
Last edited by expat_tony on Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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austin.texas
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by austin.texas »

Have you checked out rEFInd (boot manager for EFI systems)?
Using rEFInd - http://www.rodsbooks.com/efi-bootloaders/refind.html
Getting rEFInd - http://www.rodsbooks.com/refind/getting.html
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gtsfer
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by gtsfer »

Your customized Linux Mint Cinnamon is still there in your /home partition. I know you were talking about backing it up last week I think it was. Did you do that yet? The current /home partition is in a questionable state? But if you backed up before the Cinnamon desktop mess occurred that might be good.

You should be able to get into sdb2 from a live session. Worst case you have to "mount" it with a command, but if it's still there it's accessible.

If you have an external drive to use, you might use Gparted to copy sdb9. You can restore it pretty easily the same way. Or just use a backup tool like grsync that you can install on the live USB you have. Then use grsync to backup /home to external drive if you need to again.

rEFind is your best bet for UEFI boot issues, which I know just enough about to continue watching and learning for this part.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by expat_tony »

Thanks austin.texas. I don't understand everything I read, though. There'll be a lot of questions. :oops:
gtsfer wrote:The current /home partition is in a questionable state? But if you backed up before the Cinnamon desktop mess occurred that might be good.
Yes, there's a backup of all open and hidden folders, which I didn't even compress so I can see it all.
gtsfer wrote:You should be able to get into sdb2 from a live session. Worst case you have to "mount" it with a command, but if it's still there it's accessible.
No, there's no SYSTEM DRV on the Places list, and I don't remember ever seeing it, to be honest.
gtsfer wrote:If you have an external drive to use, you might use Gparted to copy sdb9
But how much would it try to copy, the 18Gb I have filled - I have that available, or all 650 Gb? - ahem!! Maybe grsync would be better.
gtsfer wrote:rEFind is your best bet for UEFI boot issues, which I know just enough about to continue watching and learning for this part.
Good, because I'll sure need assistance.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by gtsfer »

expat_tony wrote:No, there's no SYSTEM DRV on the Places list, and I don't remember ever seeing it, to be honest.
Oh, that's what sdb2 is, ok. I had to go look at your other post on "Boot and Theme Issues with Cinnamon". It's the Windows system partition.

Forget all the other stuff (but yes, Gparted would copy a whole partition). You already have a complete backup of /home, hidden files and all. From before the "Boot and Theme Issues" occurred, right?

So it's up to you, whadda you want to do? Attempt to fix Grub? Then go back to the other issue? Or were you serious about dumping Win 8 which would lead to the question "do you want to trash W8, clean up everything and then re-install"? Seems like you would kill two birds with one stone and get all your Cinnamon settings, FF bookmarks, extensions, panel stuff back like that.

One more question? Did you ever do a "save markings" in Package Manager like we talked about? It's a little thing, but it saves you some work installing all those packages over again. If the answer is "no", it's not a big deal. :wink:
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by expat_tony »

gtsfer wrote:Did you ever do a "save markings" in Package Manager like we talked about? It's a little thing, but it saves you some work installing all those packages over again. If the answer is "no", it's not a big deal.
Nope, I didn't. But where is Package Manager's data saved? I can get into the hidden folders on sda1 if I have to, sdb9 is easy too.
gtsfer wrote:do you want to trash W8, clean up everything and then re-install"? Seems like you would kill two birds with one stone and get all your Cinnamon settings, FF bookmarks, extensions, panel stuff back like that
Yes, I do. In the end, dual booting with W8 has just created a weakness (the grub menu) which ithe bad guy seems to have exploited to get back "on top". But before the 3 steps you mention, I'd like to add "Be certain you've got every part of Mint 17 you possibly can onto an external drive."
Last edited by expat_tony on Sat Sep 13, 2014 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by gtsfer »

expat_tony wrote:But where is Package Manager's data saved? I can get into the hidden folders on sda1 if I have to, sdb9 is easy too.
I don't know that offhand. I always relied on "save markings" and kept this text file as part of my backup. Maybe someone else does. Otherwise you'd just have to re-install whatever you had added manually.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by expat_tony »

Would you mind looking in your var/cache/apt/archives and telling me if that's the same list? It's all deb files. Use compact view for a quicker overview.
Or does it look like a shorter version of this, in the backed up File System on my external drive`? I would just need to compare this with what I get after the fresh install, and the difference is what I need. Not so convenient, but absolutely complete.
Installs.png
Last edited by expat_tony on Sat Sep 13, 2014 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gtsfer
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by gtsfer »

I can't match them up on my system because I have occasionally done apt-get clean and apt-get autoclean. One of the things I know I added was Gparted and there's no sign of it in there. If you've never done that then you probably could make a list from it. I keep mine in a cheat sheet plus the PM saved markings.

But there's other stuff in there that's just dependencies too. And updates which may or not be packages you added. Lots of stuff that starts with "lib...." for instance.

You could just add what you remember after re-installing and eventually it will all come back to you I'm sure. Seems like a lot of work to build a list like that after the fact. Oh hey, but I see you found it from MintBackup it looks like.
Last edited by gtsfer on Sat Sep 13, 2014 2:08 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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austin.texas
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by austin.texas »

Yes, expat_tony, the list you posted is the one you want.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by expat_tony »

I think the var/cache/--- list would be right too, but I too have used clean and autoclean. I did notice some surprising omissions in my list, and that will be the reason.
I'm very happy to read what austin.texas wrote back. I'll combine methods - first install what I can remember, then do a backup with sbackup to produce a list like that in a differently named directory, then compare. I actually only need to look for high-level entries (usually just one word like "wine") the SPM takes care of adding the lib packages & other dependencies. There's one lib... I'll forever remember; it's libtiff4, which makes my printer driver work.
So, can you advise me, please?... When I install, should I go for "replace Windows", or would "something else" give me extra options? For example, my first concern is to make sure that '/' is on sda1, my SSD, while swap and home will be on sdb. Next question, what happens to the 2 Lenovo partitions, sdb6 & 7 currently? One of these contains a Lenovo manual that I suppose I ought to save.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by austin.texas »

expat_tony wrote: When I install, should I go for "replace Windows", or would "something else" give me extra options? For example, my first concern is to make sure that '/' is on sda1, my SSD, while swap and home will be on sdb. Next question, what happens to the 2 Lenovo partitions, sdb6 & 7 currently? One of these contains a Lenovo manual that I suppose I ought to save.
The "Something Else" option is the only way to make it work out the way you want.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

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expat_tony wrote: For example, my first concern is to make sure that '/' is on sda1, my SSD, while swap and home will be on sdb. Next question, what happens to the 2 Lenovo partitions, sdb6 & 7 currently? One of these contains a Lenovo manual that I suppose I ought to save.
You can afford to ignore those since you have lots of room on your 652GB partition which is 95% empty.
I did notice that you have sdb10 and sdb11 unused. You could use those for trial installations of other linux versions that you want to check out. But, alternatively, you could delete both of those partitions, leaving 20GB of unallocated space, which would be a fine place for a backup (clone) of your / partition, sda1 (19GB), after you get your programs and configuration complete. I back up my / partition in exactly that way, every month or so...
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by gtsfer »

You have to use "something else". It's the only way to install root on the SSD and swap and home on the hard drive. If that Lenova manual is the only thing you haven't saved, I would back that up too. I assume it's a PDF or something you can open with LM?

Pre-partition both the SSD and the hard drive. You did this before and if I remember you're not supposed to use the whole 24GB on the SSD. Then plan what you want to do for the hard drive. How big was your swap before? Make it the same size. Then make a home partition. Leave some space for another OS in case you want to dual-boot with another Linux later on.

The UEFI stuff I'll have to watch as I don't know that area yet. But as I might be getting a new machine in the coming weeks I'll be keeping an eye on "how-to". Isn't there a UEFI partition needed for these new fangled machines as well?

Aside from that manual, which I assume is a PDF or something you can read with Linux, I don't know if those Lenova partitions will be of any use. Without Windows that is. They might be for a Lenova restore or some diagnostics. I might backup that manual first and then clean the whole drive of partitions to start with.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by expat_tony »

austin.texas wrote:The "Something Else" option is the only way to make it work out the way you want.
Thanks.
I looked inside the Lenovo directory and saw all kinds of drivers for onboard camera, touchpad, etc. I obviously need those functions, so deleting has to be carefully handled, leaving enough of Lenovo left to control hardware, but cut out the splash screen that always hands on to Win8. Not easy, I would have thought, but what do I know?
The other key thing for me will be to get the boot partition right - can the loader be placed inside sda1 or must it be in a separate partition?
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by austin.texas »

If you booted the DVD in UEFI mode, the GRUB (bootloader) installation will take care of itself.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by expat_tony »

GpSep15.png
The above is my HDD prior to getting rid of Windows8. It's a shot by the live boot Gparted, which is why sdb9 is not shown as /home but by its ID. Here's an out-of-date shot of what it looked like when I could still boot normally.
sdb_gp.png
However, my focus is on sdb1-5 & 6-7 at the moment. Here's my comment on each one:
I know sdb1 is the Win recovery partition. As I have absolutely no intention of ever re-installing W8 on anything I own, I can safely remove it.
sdb2 is the EFI boot partition that seems to have been changed by Windows at the time of the grub menu failure, thus making this reinstall necessary.
sdb3, by its name, would be expected to hold the EFI function, and it was a surprise to all of us when Gparted flagged sdb2 as "boot,efi" after the successful dual boot install some months ago. That is explained, though, in a paragraph on this web page: http://www.rodsbooks.com/efi-bootloader ... ation.html
I have read two threads of these forums about getting rid of Windows8 from a dual boot. On one, you are advised not to touch the bootloader partition when getting rid of Windows, the other thread doesn't mention it. Both threads are somewhat out of date, so I'd appreciate latest advice. Should I delete only sdb3, or both? For example, I don't need sdb2 if the installer asks to create a brand new boot partition... would it do that?
sdb4 is flagged as 'Microsoft data', so I think I can get rid of that.
sdb5 is the Windows system & data partition. The little work I've done using W8 isn't worth backing up, nor are the programs, which anyway wouldn't work on the XP I'm retaining on another machine. So that goes too.
sdb6 & sdb7 are Lenovo partitions (It's a U410) containing a manual and some drivers. I was worried about losing these (e.g. onboard camera, touchpad) but am reassured that they're completely redundant in a Linuxsystem and can go. Correct? I have actually backed up all files except a huge one, (install.wim), to an external HDD

So my questions are: 1. Do you disagree with any of my decisions? 2. What should I do about sdb2, and why?
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by hotpepperguy »

rEFInd should solve your issues without the need to reinstall anything. Guide is in my signature. Let me know if you have any troubles with it.


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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by austin.texas »

If you are going to reinstall Mint to sda, the bootloader should be installed on sda's EFI partition, not sdb. Right? So the 260MB EFI partition on sdb becomes inconsequential - unless you want to install another OS on sdb.
(Which is what I would do, actually. I like to have all hard drives bootable. My sda boots Mint 16 on sda1. My sdb boots Mint 17 on sdb1. My external usb hard drive boots Mint 13 on sdc1. You never know when you want to use those to troubleshoot, and hard drives do fail sometimes. I booted Mint 13 yesterday to clone my Mint 17 partition as a backup before installing a new kernel.)

I have already mentioned that you could just leave sdb6 & sdb7 (Lenovo partitions) as they are. You would still have almost 900GB to use, and only 20GB of data.
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Re: EFI dual boot Grub failed

Post by expat_tony »

austin.texas wrote:If you are going to reinstall Mint to sda, the bootloader should be installed on sda's EFI partition, not sdb. Right?

Do you mean on sda1 along with the OS, or in a separate - say, 300 Mb - sda2 partition?
austin.texas wrote:So the 260MB EFI partition on sdb becomes inconsequential - unless you want to install another OS on sdb.

And if I do just that, so that sdb2 is not inconsequential, do I delete and re-make it, or leave it and choose it when Gparted asks?

If I install LMC17 twice now, then both will use the same /home partition, right? What if I then installed LMC 17.1 on sda1 in November, as an update? I wouldn't need to worry about /home on sdbX at all, would I? A separate question also arises; how does grub - or whatever you use - work with two bootloaders? What do you see when you switch on the machine?

I'm thinking of chopping that enormous home partition into 2 equal parts for the new install. One would be designated as the new /home, while the other would be partitioned too, but lying fallow, so to speak. It could, for example, function as a backup area for copying /home if I ever needed one. Would this work?
austin.texas wrote:I have already mentioned that you could just leave sdb6 & sdb7 (Lenovo partitions) as they are.
I'll do that, it's less work apart from anything else.
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