is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

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PGHammer
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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by PGHammer » Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:35

The complaints about GRUB2 sound like all the complaints I had heard when GRUB replaced (in the majority of Linux distros) LILO - "I just got used to things and now X mutates into Y?"

In case you have forgotten, operating systems in general, and open-source/Linux more so than a lot of others, change is a certainty. If you dislike the rapidity of change in Linux, there's always BSD (the BSDs are starting to increase their speed-of-change, largely due to crossover from Linux distributions; however, the vast majority of the BSD foundation has changed far less; FreeBSD/PC-BSD still share the BTX bootloader, though both will also work with LILO, GRUB, or even GRUB2). The big reason for the developpment of GRUB2 is the reality that sharing with other operating systems (especially Windows) is a reality; also, both LILO and GRUB have issues with larger hard drives and larger hard drive *partitions*.

I treat any of the various loaders as just that, and have no "loyalty" to a particular one, as each has pluses and minuses (that includes OS Loader from XP forward); one way in which I deal is separate *physical drives* for each operating system (letting each OS, and its loader, be on its own drive, while allowing them to know about each other; here, GRUB2 supports chain-loading OS Loader 5+).

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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by wayne128 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:10

I am new to the world of Linux. Being new, may be that has an advantage ( of not having old history), because I have not yet read enough of what problems are associated with some platforms.

Yes, when I started Linux OS in playful mode, I learned the hard way of dual boot and multi-boot various types with their default boot loader.
One very common issue is existing OS work well, then when I try to test a new OS, being a newbie, I use default setting and at time wonder what to choose. So often ended up having new OS booted well but old OS simply cannot boot. When I try installation the other way round, I get another problem.

While playing many various OSes that come with various boot loader, I do find that Grub2 has the best ability to detect other existing OSes, except for one thing: having detect well, some OSes simply cannot be booted and end with kernel panic. To be honest, I do not know what to do then and took easy way out of reinstallation, and I must say here that Linux gave me a good sense of it took much less time to install than windows. Just imagin it took me 1-2 hour for old computer installing WinXP ( basic installation + set up internet, sound, + virus+ update+).
To my pleasant surprise, some light distros took me just 12 minutes and I get to go internet using the old laptop!. I see this as a strength on Linux and that alone encourage me to crawl my way and take more steps to learn. I learn also if I get something, somehow something else gives, in this case, I did not learn how boot loader work and what should I do when I have another kernel panic caused by new OS installation.
After a while, read forums, asking and get often an answer to Read The Friendly Manual, then I realise if I used Grub2, and get a kernel panic, there is a very easy way out, all because grub2 took a new way of numbering,, but it had two method used concurrently, so the OS that has kernel panic is now easily booted if I just do this ( without making any change to grub2 entry or grub stanza)

1. On the boot select screen, select that OS
2. press e
3. a text appear, move cursor to the appropriate number
4. substitute that number with a number+1.
5. ctrl x
the previous kernel panic OS will boot just like it was before new OS with grub2 is installed.
and these instruction are actually on the screen!!

Really, very often, I got a feeling of wanting to give up, because I might not get any answer when I asked in the forum. Sometimes I get more than an answer and that gave another chance of wanting to leave..
Therefore, when I get help from forum, I would tell myself since I get it free, I would help another person whom I do not know to solve a problem.
Furthermore, I tend to appreciate more if such situation happened to me.

Now that I played a bit more on multi-booting and get my head knoced too often, I could say that if I used all the OSes that come with grub2, there is no problem for booting.
But if I mix with OSes using grub with grub2, grub with Lilo, Grub2 with Lilo, or grub, grub2 and lilo all mixed together, I certain would see some problem booting some of the OSes.

Then, I tell myself, why must I suffer each time to test something new? So in order to enjoy more funs on Linux OS, testing of betas, experience various distros, helping friend to set up / repair old computers, putting Linux onto Old boxes and teach them how to use, irregardless of its being Debian, Slackware, RedHat, or now ,sorry I just tried Sabayon and learn it is Gentoo based (??). Now I go back to learn the old Grub legacy, which is relatively easier to learn because all I need to is learn how to use editor to edit menu.lst file. But that leads to the real issue of what grub stanza to use, how to partition for multi-boot and so on.

I am still very new to Linux, and too new to Sabayon. But one thing I am happy about is , after spending sometime on learn multi-boot, I am in a better position to know how to properly partition a drive for multi-boot, install various OSes in hard disk with many partitions with their default boot installer, amend appropriate grub stanza and enjoy the funs of playing with various OSes in various type of hardwares.

hope my long posts is OK here.. :) :)

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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by alcalde » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:10

There's a difference between progress and using something that isn't finished yet. It's the difference between "cutting edge" and "bleeding edge". :D Grub 2 has definitely spilled a lot of blood.

I'm no Linux expert, but I had no problem installing openSUSE 11.3 (which uses GRUB by default) on a PC with three hard drives and XP and Windows 7 already installed. In virtualbox I installed openSUSE then Windows 7 and then used the install DVD's rescue function to rebuild/install grub and it put everything back nicely after Windows 7 was done with things. At least with this limited testing, it seems GRUB still works fine for most people with normal setups and needs. Making GRUB the default bootloader and GRUB2 an optional install would seem to have been the more user-friendly choice. Boot Sabayon 5.4 (or 5.3 :( ) and watch GRUB2 default to a 320x200 screen resolution, which it also does with at least my LCD screen. GRUB2, or at least Sabayon's implementation of it, still doesn't work right, and making users have to wade through a semi-undocumented configuration file after install to try and fix it isn't a good thing. In the bug tracker even lxnay takes some swipes at one of the GRUB2 people and the fact that GRUB2's commands are still in flux. Why it was kept in 5.4 even though it sounds like it's as big a pain in the *** for the developers as the users is a mystery.

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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by PGHammer » Tue Oct 05, 2010 19:22

Those that have the least trouble with GRUB/GRUB2 are generally those that install any OS that uses them *last* (which every Linux distribution recommends; that includes both Gentoo and Sabayon). Those that have the most difficulty violate that policy. When a multi-boot situation (three or more OSes) is a certainty, I install Windows (and any other operating system that can use Windows' loader, such as Wubi-based installs of 'buntu) first, then LILO (if I'm going to use it), then GRUB, then GRUB2 at the end. Even with that, I still prefer separate physical drives, because of some distributions' quirks on how it installs GRUB/GRUB 2 (while openSuSE does use GRUB, it also has the ugly tendency to stick it on the primary drive by default, even if there are *no* Linux partitions, let alone openSuSE partitions, on that drive; Fedora and Mandriva have the same quirk); such quirks force a custom install, especially if multi-booting with Windows XP or later.

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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by alcalde » Tue Oct 05, 2010 22:52

It's probably not an ugly tendency per se because installing it on the drive the BIOS sees as the first drive to try booting from makes sense in almost every situation. It's perfectly rational to want to install Linux onto an additional drive but put the bootloader on your primary drive. I did run into the situation you describe recently when I wanted to place a test copy of openSUSE on a second drive but didn't want it to touch the boot loader on the primary drive. Fortunately openSUSE provides a nice summary of everything you've selected and what it's going to do before the install begins, so I noticed where it wanted to put the boot loader and it was very simple to change the order of drives in the boot loader section and that got it to decide to put the boot loader on the same drive as I was installing the OS to. The installer also lets you change the order of listed drives in the GRUB menu, change the default time-out, etc. during the install process so you don't need to do any file editing once you've installed the OS. I wish Sabayon had that. :cry:

Windows 7 is really a far worse offender than Fedora, Mandriva or openSUSE though when it comes to installing boot loaders on drives. When I tried to put a test copy of Windows 7 onto that second drive, it kept telling me there was no room to create a partition even though there was. It turns out that Windows 7 wants to create a primary boot partition on the firstdrive, PERIOD. There were already 4 primary partitions on the first drive so it was refusing to install (and not being clear about why). I had to change the boot order in the BIOS so that the second drive was the only bootable hard drive for Windows 7 to agree to put the boot partition on the same drive as I wanted to install the OS to! I was lucky, though... some folks (presumably with less flexible BIOSes) actually had to unplug extra hard drives to get it to work! :shock: Windows really doesn't play well with others and continues to assume it's the only OS on the system.

Per your other point, I don't envy anyone wanting to mix boot loaders on a system. :) In situations like that, separate drives really are safer. Virtualization is also very viable today for running other systems in relative safety.

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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by acfreema » Wed Oct 06, 2010 5:46

I think the main complaints that most of us have with GRUB2 are 1) slowness to boot 2) difficulty in changing settings.

I timed my first installation of Ubuntu 10.04, there was 13 seconds after selecting the OS before any hdd activity. That's unacceptable. GRUB works, why break it? Since changing back to GRUB is so difficult, I just switched to LILO. When Installing new stuff, I just keep the old GRUB and update it appropriately. Why? Because I can manage GRUB without goat sacrifices.

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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by alcalde » Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:27

acfreema wrote: Because I can manage GRUB without goat sacrifices.
You've just made me realize after all this time why the edges on my CPU heatsink are so sharp! That's what that's for! Thanks! :twisted: Maybe I've also just figured out what the sixth format of my 6-in-1 card reader is too.... and that the label "6-6-6-in-1" on the box wasn't a typo.....

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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by Fitzcarraldo » Wed Oct 06, 2010 14:04

Goats? I found chickens work better.

Seriously, though, I agree with much of what PGHammer wrote in his previous two posts. Grub2 is a beatch to use at first until one learns how it works and gets used to its syntax and functionality. I now feel comfortable enough to use it without breaking out in a cold sweat. It is certainly more hassle to use than Grub Legacy. But then sometimes more power and more configurability entail more hassle. Certainly it is more complicated than Grub Legacy, and certainly its early versions were as buggy as the Mummy's Tomb, but I do recognise that the designers' intent for Grub2 was to provide more functionality and more control than was possible with Grub Legacy:
GRUB Wiki wrote:GRUB Legacy is a synonym of version 0.9x. GRUB Legacy provides rich features, but it has many design and implementation faults. GRUB Legacy is not maintained any longer. If you want more features, please use GRUB 2.

GRUB 2 is the next generation of GNU GRUB. GRUB 2 is a complete rewrite and is at a developmental phase. The most important goal is to make GNU GRUB cleaner, safer, more robust, more portable and more powerful. GRUB 2 is actively developed.
The experience gained by Ubuntu, SL and the other early adopters of Grub2 will benefit the later adopters, which I doubt will be able to cling onto unmaintained software for much longer, especially now that more GPT drives are on the market, which Grub2 supports but Grub Legacy does not (unless patched, apparently).

I'm nowhere near an expert on this boot loader stuff, but find it interesting to read about it. From what I understand, Grub2 design is far from optimal. But hopefully it will improve with new releases. No doubt, when everyone becomes completely familiar with it, someone will invent Grub3 just to keep us on our toes.

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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by PGHammer » Wed Oct 06, 2010 14:09

alcalde wrote:It's probably not an ugly tendency per se because installing it on the drive the BIOS sees as the first drive to try booting from makes sense in almost every situation. It's perfectly rational to want to install Linux onto an additional drive but put the bootloader on your primary drive. I did run into the situation you describe recently when I wanted to place a test copy of openSUSE on a second drive but didn't want it to touch the boot loader on the primary drive. Fortunately openSUSE provides a nice summary of everything you've selected and what it's going to do before the install begins, so I noticed where it wanted to put the boot loader and it was very simple to change the order of drives in the boot loader section and that got it to decide to put the boot loader on the same drive as I was installing the OS to. The installer also lets you change the order of listed drives in the GRUB menu, change the default time-out, etc. during the install process so you don't need to do any file editing once you've installed the OS. I wish Sabayon had that. :cry:

Windows 7 is really a far worse offender than Fedora, Mandriva or openSUSE though when it comes to installing boot loaders on drives. When I tried to put a test copy of Windows 7 onto that second drive, it kept telling me there was no room to create a partition even though there was. It turns out that Windows 7 wants to create a primary boot partition on the firstdrive, PERIOD. There were already 4 primary partitions on the first drive so it was refusing to install (and not being clear about why). I had to change the boot order in the BIOS so that the second drive was the only bootable hard drive for Windows 7 to agree to put the boot partition on the same drive as I wanted to install the OS to! I was lucky, though... some folks (presumably with less flexible BIOSes) actually had to unplug extra hard drives to get it to work! :shock: Windows really doesn't play well with others and continues to assume it's the only OS on the system.

Per your other point, I don't envy anyone wanting to mix boot loaders on a system. :) In situations like that, separate drives really are safer. Virtualization is also very viable today for running other systems in relative safety.
The behavior you attribute to Windows 7 has been the case for *every* version of Windows back to NT (NT 3.1; the very first one), because, like MS-DOS before it, it expected to live alone. (In fact, it took until OS Loader 4.01 for Windows NT and MS-DOS, let alone Windows 9x, to co-exist peacefully on the same drive.) That fact is why, when a multi-boot situation is a certainty, Windows goes on first.

Virtualization, especially given modern hardware, is actually a much smarter alternative than multiple drives or partition-juggling. Even the biggest of bugbears for virtualzation support in hardware (VT-x or AMD-V support at the CPU level) is headed for check-mark status at almost every performance point (the sole exception is in netbooks). Case in point - I built my x64 desktop originally around a Celeron E1200 (which had everything except VT-x); Intel's drop-in replacement, (E3300) fixes that lack, and for the same price ($40USD @ MicroCenter). If you have four or more cores, virtualization, except when you need the performance only a bare-metal install can give (gaming) should be a no-brainer. (The only real problem remaining is the choice of host platform, if only because the choice is vast; thanks to no-cost software, such as Oracle VirtualBox, it's even an option for hardware platforms normally not even on the radar, such as laptops.)

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Re: is grub2 closed source? and how to get rid of it?

Post by elempjr » Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:39

I am an old grub legacy user. I have experimented with grub2 in some other distros recently. I understand how to change/add/subtract boot entries and do just about all i need to do. I really enjoy grub2. It has it's pro's and cons just as well as legacy did. Of course, i've always been one to NOT dislike things simply because they are different, new, or not the norm.

So i have given this grub2 a chance and like i said, i like it. I am now trying it in this newer version of Sabayon. I have only found one problem. I cannot find the command in sabayon to "update-grub." what i mean is... Whenever you add a menu entry, you create a new script and then must update-grub through what i thought was a grub dependent command... perhaps i will sound silly but, i cannot seem to find the command "update-grub" as it works from the other distros. i wonder if there is an alternative command in sabayon to "re-initialize" grub to recognize the script i create or am i just used to an old developer version of grub2? or option 3 i'm simply confused and got lucky with the other distros???

until i figure this out i have to manually take out the "nox" option from the grub command line editor each time i boot for now, i'm sure i'll figure it out soon though :)

as for the topic, once it's learned how to be used, grub2 is really not that bad... instead of the old simple text file to be edited, you write a simple script which can handle alot more than the old way. personally, i don't see a reason to totally get rid of it... embracing change is what linux has always been for me... the more new i learn, the more useful i become hopefully :)
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