View Full Version : [ubuntu] triple boot grub2 probs.

November 14th, 2009, 07:56 PM
Hello all, hope someone can help.

Am running Ubuntu 9.10 (enjoying it in the main) and Windows 7 in a dual boot system.

Recently added windows XP to the mix, reinstalled grub2 to the MBR where it had no trouble detecting my Ubuntu and Windows 7 partitions but has not picked up the XP.

Now, i am tempted to get stuck in there and fiddle with things, but it has been a long day and I would hate to make things worse after just getting my prior two partitions back up and running, so I therefore turn to you all in the hopes of an elegant and simple solution.

Many thanks in advance,


November 14th, 2009, 08:07 PM
How about the following:
Since you have a working Win7 go in there and check your XP partition (drive) whether boot.ini is there. You might need to enable seeing hidden and system files in Win7 for that.
If it's there, it should be the bootloader for XP.
Even though grub should have picked it up, just add manual entry in grub for your XP because you know the exact partition it's on.

November 14th, 2009, 08:23 PM
I mounted the xp partition and searched for boot.ini and it wasn't found - not really sure wherabouts it normally resides.

Is it the case that i actually need to boot into windows 7 to see it?

Should mention that my windows xp was working just fine before reinstalling grub2 - it booted up no problem.

November 14th, 2009, 08:29 PM
It would be in the root of the partition.
Another option, not very likely. Sometimes during installation Win7 creates a small 100MB boot partition. XP might have put the boot.ini there. Check that partition too, if it exists.

If not, mount again the XP partition and check do you have ntldr and ntdetect files in it. Those three files with boot.ini make the loading process of XP.

If you do have these two files but just boot.ini is missing, here is microsoft article how to write your own boot.ini but it is best to write it with notepad in win7, not with gedit in ubuntu:
Among the steps there is one step to create boot.ini. Ignore the rest. Of course, adjust the content of boot.ini with information about the partition your XP is on.

PS. Ctrl+H hides/unhides folders in ubuntu. You might check with mounted XP partition maybe it will allow you to see hidden files, assuming boot.ini is hidden in ubuntu too. Maybe you didn't see it if it hides it too like windows.

November 14th, 2009, 08:31 PM
I know that if you install Win7 with a XP install it combines the boot into one, so you can only boot XP and it gives you the choice of xp or Win7. I do not know if in the reverse it is true also but I bet it is as the windows boot loader only can choose which to boot from one of the windows partitions.

When windows combines boot it moves some files that prevent separate boot of each windows. If you uninstall the windows with the boot you have to repair the other one to get it working again.

A work around was to turn off the boot flag before installing the second windows so it would not see the first install. You then could not boot directly from windows into either windows but then could use grub to boot directly into each.

November 14th, 2009, 08:52 PM
ok, the problem has indeed changed somewhat.

With the grub loader i selected the windows 7 option and to my surprise i find myself back in windows xp.

So at present i have karmic and XP functioning albeit under a windows 7 heading. How can this be straightened out?

November 14th, 2009, 09:13 PM
Have you rerun:
sudo update-grub

If it is separately bootable it should find it.
Next choice is to add manual entries into 40_custom. You can copy your xp entry from grub.cfg in twice and edit one to be for your Win7. Does you Win7 have a separate boot partition of about 100mb? If so that is the partition to boot to. If you have to add manual entries you can turn off the osprober in /etc/default/grub to prevent duplicate xp entries.

sudo gedit /etc/grub.d/40_custom


November 14th, 2009, 10:57 PM
Have tried the grub update but it does appear as if the two windows have 'merged' into one as far as grub is concerned.

will try some editing of the files that grub2 uses for the config and report back on any sucess/ faliure.

November 14th, 2009, 11:09 PM
some extra info which may be of help:

============================= Boot Info Summary: ==============================

=> No known boot loader is installed in the MBR of /dev/sda

sda1: __________________________________________________ _______________________

File system: swap
Boot sector type: -
Boot sector info:

sda2: __________________________________________________ _______________________

File system: ntfs
Boot sector type: Windows XP
Boot sector info: No errors found in the Boot Parameter Block.
Operating System: Windows Vista
Boot files/dirs: /boot.ini /bootmgr /Boot/BCD
/Windows/System32/winload.exe /grldr /ntldr

sda3: __________________________________________________ _______________________

File system: ext4
Boot sector type: -
Boot sector info:
Operating System: Ubuntu 9.10
Boot files/dirs: /boot/grub/grub.cfg /etc/fstab /boot/grub/core.img

sda4: __________________________________________________ _______________________

File system: Extended Partition
Boot sector type: -
Boot sector info:

sda5: __________________________________________________ _______________________

File system: ntfs
Boot sector type: Windows XP
Boot sector info: According to the info in the boot sector, sda5 starts
at sector 63.
Operating System: Windows XP
Boot files/dirs:

=========================== Drive/Partition Info: =============================

Drive: sda ___________________ __________________________________________________ ___

Disk /dev/sda: 120.0 GB, 120034123776 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 14593 cylinders, total 234441648 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x34fe34fd

Partition Boot Start End Size Id System

/dev/sda1 63 10,249,469 10,249,407 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda2 * 10,249,470 121,820,894 111,571,425 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda3 121,820,895 205,407,089 83,586,195 83 Linux
/dev/sda4 205,407,090 234,420,479 29,013,390 f W95 Ext d (LBA)
/dev/sda5 205,407,153 234,420,479 29,013,327 7 HPFS/NTFS

blkid -c /dev/null: __________________________________________________ __________

/dev/sda1: UUID="59c57d12-d513-4226-b9cd-336683068a98" TYPE="swap"
/dev/sda2: UUID="9A4CE1F54CE1CC57" TYPE="ntfs"
/dev/sda3: UUID="771a31a7-6bed-41df-a692-331442671a3b" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda5: UUID="5800227F0022646A" TYPE="ntfs"

November 14th, 2009, 11:13 PM
Yeap, boot files from both windows OSs are on the same sda2.

You said title Windows 7 is booting XP. Change that title in Windows XP.
Create new title for Windows 7, just copy the XP one, and instead of the standard command chainloder +1 put chainloader /bootmgr
I have used that with Win7 and it works. Use the exact filename and it should work with both boot.ini and bootmgr on sda2.

Like suggested by oldfred, disable the os prober and put your own custom entry for Windows 7 in 40_custom file.

November 14th, 2009, 11:40 PM
This sounds like an answer, unfortunately i don't yet have sufficient experience to follow your instructions.

Could you explain the steps a little clearer please.

I am trying, honest!

November 14th, 2009, 11:44 PM
Hold on, let me reboot in ubuntu so I can give you exact filenames. I'm in windows now. be right back.

November 14th, 2009, 11:50 PM
Some more info I found on this worth the read is here too ......


But this is just for info ........... and it explains quite a lot of what you need to know ..... it might save some time .....

but continue ..... here if what you need to know is not shown .......

it will be good to see .......

Here is another interesting link ......


because I at the moment run 5 different OS's .....

but some others OS's I have on my USB now fail to boot .....

so I too am quite interested in knowing why .......

( and I would like to know that GRUB2 will be ok and not leave me with less than I have now )

November 14th, 2009, 11:57 PM
As oldfred suggested, better disable os prober if entering manual entries.
Step 1:
In terminal (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) enter the command:
sudo gedit /etc/default/grub
At the bottom add the line he suggested:
Save the file and close the window.

Step 2:
In the terminal execute:
sudo gedit /etc/grub.d/40_custom
At the end add:
title Windows 7
makeactive (not sure you can try with and without it)
chainloader /bootmgr

Then leave one empty line and add also:
title Windows XP
makeactive (same as above)
chainloader +1

Save and close the file.
In the terminal execute:
sudo update-grub

That should be it. Reboot and check if the grub menu will show the entries and if they work.
At start you might want to add (new) next to the titles of both new entries you create so you know which ones are from you. If you have more than 2 windows entries we will sort it later, the first step is for this to work.
Try it.

November 14th, 2009, 11:58 PM
Have to go to bed, it's already 1 in the morning and my eyes are practically bleeding.

Thanks all for your help, i will be back trying to solve this tomorrow.

much love,


November 15th, 2009, 12:06 AM
have not gone yet,

when writing the entries to 40_custom do i not need to specify any more than you wrote - no hard disc id's or anything etc?

November 15th, 2009, 12:08 AM
really must go now,

need sleep....


November 15th, 2009, 01:36 AM
Darkod - are you sure those are grub2 commands? I thought they all had the {} like below:

### BEGIN /etc/grub.d/21_winxp ###
menuentry "Windows XP" {
insmod ntfs
set root=(hd0,0)
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set EC0CEE940CEE595A
chainloader +1

### END /etc/grub.d/21_winxp ###

I do believe you can leave out the entire search line and possibly the isnmod ntfs if you are just chainbooting into the partition.

I also found they did away with the makeactive command and it is now
#make a partition active ("makeactive" in grub legacy)
parttool (hd0,4) boot+

#remove active flag from a partition
parttool (hd0,3) boot-

I am suprised the XP boots as it is in the extended partition and not the Win7 booting.

Dan - because your winXP is in an extended partition you cannot uninstall win7 and still be able to boot XP. Windows will not boot from and extended partition unless you are going thru the primary partition of windows.
Question - Why XP if you have win7? Ithought it had a compatibility mode that give it XP capabilities for those programs that do not run correctly under win7. I only have XP and have no plans of ever buying another windows, so I am no expert on Win7.

November 15th, 2009, 10:27 AM
I owe you big apology. In my post with the instruction I forgot the most important command. :( Too late and too tired. :)
When entering the titles for windows after the line "title" for both 7 and XP there should be:
rootnoverify (hd0,1)

That will point it to the correct partition, first hard drive, second partition. Sorry about that.

PS. oldfred is right. All of the above seems to work only on grub not on the new grub2. Sorry. Have to dig little deeper to find more info and the correct syntax.

November 15th, 2009, 10:53 AM
I think I found it, adding manual windows entries. But the value of UUID for the partition is needed.

Open terminal, run:

and post the information here. If you can't post it, just write down the UUID value for your windows ntfs partition, /dev/sda2. You will need that number.

Once you have it, in terminal run:
sudo gedit /etc/grub.d/40_custom

At the end add:

menuentry "Windows 7 (new)" {
insmod ntfs
set root=(hd0,2)
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set CFFCFF9EECFF7F49
chainloader /bootmgr

menuentry "Windows XP (new)" {
insmod ntfs
set root=(hd0,2)
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set CFFCFF9EECFF7F49
chainloader +1

In both entries you will have to replace the CFFC... value with the UUID you found earlier, that's the UUID value.

Save and close that file.

Then in terminal run:
sudo chmod -x /etc/grub.d/30_os-prober

That will disable the automatic os prober which is not correctly finding your windows anyway.
At the end you only need to run:
sudo update-grub

And that should be it.

If there are errors and someone has more experience with this please jump in. :)

PS. Because your boot files for both windows OSs are in the same place the above might not work ideally first time but we can adjust the chainloader values after we see the result. So don't get disappointed. :) See if the above can work and check if it will boot both windows OSs and Ubuntu correctly. If there is error with any, let us know.

November 15th, 2009, 06:39 PM
I am sorry darkod and old fred,

I started from scratch again. wiped the hard drive and installed a simple win 7 and ubuntu dual boot. Both working fine.

The reason for the XP experiment was that I have an old IBM thinkpad T43 on the way with limited RAM and graphics card. My XP disk was hitherto untested and me being me, I just couldn't wait until the 'new' machine arrived to test it and re-acquaint myself with XP. Very nice and familiar, will install XP and ubuntu on the new machine.

Thank you for your patience. I will endeavour to try to comprehend this new grub - and i'm sure our paths will cross in the future when I inevitably **** up again.

Take care,

November 15th, 2009, 07:46 PM
No problem Dan, sometimes we spend hours trying to fix something when a reinstall is the best solution. Other times a simple one line fix can save a total reinstall and potential loss of data.

I was curious if we could get both windows to boot directly. I am not sure I have seen it work. One work around I saw was to turn off the boot flag and the second windows install will not see the first. From windows you can only boot the last install but from grub you can directly boot both.

Glad you got things working but why not Ubuntu or one of the light weight linux versions for the old machine?