Core Linux – Setting up GRUB

To prepare for installing grub, it is necessary to chroot into the system mounted on /mnt. To do this, we need a working /proc and /dev under /mnt; this is accomplished like thus:

mount -t proc none /mnt/proc
mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev

Then perform the chroot – making the new environment mounted under /mnt our new environment:

chroot /mnt /bin/bash

Note that this makes bash the current shell – not my general choice (I prefer ksh) but things might break if you use the wrong shell….

Now we can install and configure grub:

grub-install --grub-setup=/boot/grub/grub.cfg /dev/sda
/sbin/grub-install: line 223: /boot/grub/grub.cfg: Permission denied
grub-setup --directory=/boot/grub --device-map=/boot/grub/ /dev/sda
cat /boot/ >> /boot/grub/grub.cfg

The error comes from grub-install apparently trying to write to grub.cfg (which has permissions 644). The directions say this error can be ignored – so that’s what we’ll do.

The resulting grub.cfg looks like this:

# Set timeout
set timeout=30

# Set default entry
set default=0

# Grub configuration for linux-
menuentry "Core 2.0 GNU/LInux ("{
set root=(hd0,1)
linux (hd0,1)/boot/ root=/dev/hda1 vga=5

In this case, this is certainly wrong. The last stanza is preconfigured for hda and for a single volume root. Since I have two partitions, and am using /dev/sda, it should be:

# Grub configuration for linux-
menuentry "Core 2.0 GNU/LInux ("{
set root=(hd0,1)
linux (hd0,1)/ root=/dev/sda3 vga=5

Then edit /etc/fstab:

/dev/sda1 /boot ext3 defaults 0 0
/dev/sda3 / ext3 defaults 0 0
/dev/sda2 swap swap defaults 0 0

Then reboot:

cd /
umount /mnt/dev
umount /mnt/proc
umount /mnt/boot
umount /mnt
shutdown -rn now

Next time…. the first boot.

Installing GRUB on FreeBSD

Installing GRUB onto a FreeBSD system isn’t that hard – if you know how.

If you just run grub-install as root – which should normally work – you might see an error like this:

# grub-install hd0

GNU GRUB version 0.97 (640K lower / 3072K upper memory)

[ Minimal BASH-like line editing is supported. For the first word, TAB
lists possible command completions. Anywhere else TAB lists the possible
completions of a device/filename. ]
grub> root (hd0,1,a)
Filesystem type is ufs2, partition type 0xa5
grub> setup --stage2=/boot/grub/stage2 --prefix=/boot/grub (hd0)
Checking if "/boot/grub/stage1" exists... yes
Checking if "/boot/grub/stage2" exists... yes
Checking if "/boot/grub/ufs2_stage1_5" exists... yes
Running "embed /boot/grub/ufs2_stage1_5 (hd0)"... failed (this is not fatal)
Running "embed /boot/grub/ufs2_stage1_5 (hd0,1,a)"... failed (this is not fatal)
Running "install --stage2=/boot/grub/stage2 /boot/grub/stage1 (hd0) /boot/grub/stage2 p /boot/grub/menu.lst "... failed

Error 29: Disk write error
grub> quit

The first step is to set a FreeBSD kernel variable:

sysctl kern.geom.debugflags=16

This will make the master boot record (MBR) writable, which is normally where the boot record is installed. Unless you do this, you will receive the error above.

Once the variable is set, the program grub-install should work fine with your chosen drive. The menu is in /boot/grub/menu.lst; here is a starter example for FreeBSD:

title FreeBSD
root (hd0,0,a)
kernel /boot/loader

The loader is the “kernel” in this case, as it will load the FreeBSD kernel anyway and it allows you the ability to drop into the boot console if you want.

FreeBSD 6.3 running on the Armada E500

Things are working well with the combination of the new FreeBSD 6.3 and the Compaq Armada E500. The machine has a great feel to it, and despite the huge applications of today, 128M can still be used for a KDE environment.

There are a number of nice features, including a ton of connectors (10BaseT, WinModem, USB, serial, parallel, PS/2, PCMCIA). The machine just keeps going, though I have had a few (few!) lockups (normally with Amarok and something else running). With the appropriate tweaks, the KDE desktop can be as polished as any from Red Hat or Novell.

Some of the things I did:

  • Replace the shutdown picture with something else; the picture of the dragon was too smarmy.
  • Replace the background (of course!) – personalization to the max.
  • Switch to the “Macintosh” version of menu layout; it’s the most user-friendly.
  • Load KDM from ports, then activate and theme it.
  • Load a splash screen for the boot loader
  • Switch the boot loader to grub then use a splash screen to start it off.
  • Configure the special buttons to work.
  • Change the KDE menu for something easier to use (such as TastyMenu or KBFX).

When all of these are combined, the environment is very slick and professional. It still wants more than 128M though.

One pet peeve of mine I might mention with regards to menus (such as KMenu or KBFX): menus should respond instantly!! I absolutely despise hiccups and watch cursors because the menu is loading its stuff. It should just pop! into place, not thrash the hard disk. Maybe one day…

What was the best part of this? I learned a ton about themes, X keys, configuring KDM, configuring the boot loader, and using grub. And learning is the best part, right?

FreeBSD 6.3 DesktopFreeBSD 6.3 Desktop