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Thread: USB boot via GRUB2...but weirder

  1. #1
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    Question USB boot via GRUB2...but weirder

    Hey Ubuntu users!!!

    So I have a really old (about 10 years) desktop PC manufactured by Packard Bell, and would like to get Lubuntu 10.10 running on it. I had previously burnt a CD with it, but boot time was incredibly slow on the machine and installation of Lubuntu crashed my system. As a result, I created a LiveUSB (as you do).

    When I entered my CMOS, I discovered the BIOS on my machine isn't able to boot from USB, and I wasn't able to find a BIOS update for my AMIBIOS chip on the American Megatrends website. So I booted my GParted Live CD and created an ext4 partition at /dev/sda3, which I proceeded to install GRUB2 onto via the commands:

    Code:
    $ sudo su
    # mkdir /mnt/grub/
    # mount /dev/sda3 /mnt/grub/
    # grub-isntall --no-floppy --root-directory=/mnt/grub /dev/sda
    This, as planned, succeeded; I can now get into a GRUB2 prompt when my machine boots...! The only problem is, GRUB2 won't detect my USB...or any device other than my hard drive

    So, is there any way I can get GRUB2 to find my USB?

    P.S. The USB works fine on my laptop, which does support USB booting. I can also boot the USB on my laptop via its GRUB2 command line, using:

    Code:
    grub> set root='(hd1,1)'
    grub> chainloader +1
    grub> boot

  2. #2
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    Re: USB boot via GRUB2...but weirder

    If you create a CD for the 'plop' boot loader: http://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager.html, this CD will load the USB drivers so you can continue the boot off of USB.

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  3. #3
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    Talking Re: USB boot via GRUB2...but weirder

    If only you knew the trouble I've had with Plop! I'd previously tried it, but it fails to boot from my device...if you see my post >>here<<, it's explained in detail. But thanks for the advice, anyhow...

  4. #4
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    Re: USB boot via GRUB2...but weirder

    If you have grub2 installed and working, you should be able to boot the ISO directly from a drive. And once booted, you can also install it using the procedure I describe in the following link. Since you probably aren't at a rescue prompt, the procedure should be even a bit easier, and if you have access to the /etc/grub.d folder you can even make a menu for the ISO image. The second link has lots of ISO menuentries.

    HOWTO: Boot & Install Ubuntu from the Grub Rescue Prompt

    ISO Booting with Grub 2
    GRUB2

    Retired.

  5. #5
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    Unhappy Re: USB boot via GRUB2...but weirder

    Again, you're missing a bit. I can't loopback an ISO because GRUB isn't detecting the USB that my ISO and/or Bootable Partition is on! It's a bit of a weird one, but maybe it's because my BIOS can't boot from USB natively???

    Anyways, here's the output of an "ls" at the grub prompt:

    Code:
    grub> ls
    (hd0) (hd0,msdos1) (hd0,msdos2) (hd0,msdos3) (fd0)
    I'd expect my USB to show as...

    Code:
    (hd1) (hd1,msdos1)
    ...after what already appears. GRUB only seems to be able to detect my internal hard drives!

    P.S. GRUB2 is installed to the MBR of (hd0) (i.e. /dev/sda), and the GRUB2 "/boot" folder is at an ext4 partition, (hd0,msdos3) (i.e. /dev/sda3).

    (hd0,msdos2) (i.e. /dev/sda2) is my Windows ME installation and (hd0,msdos1) (i.e. /dev/sda1) is my Windows Diagnostics (WinRE) partition with the "diag" boot flag.

    UPDATE ==============================================

    Oh, wait...do you mean put the ISO on my hard-drive so I can loop-back boot it from there? I'll try that, anyhow -- even if it wasn't what you meant.

    UPDATE 2 ============================================

    Even so, this DOES solve my issue of speeding up access to the Lubuntu desktop. What it DOESN'T solve is being able to boot from a USB stick, which I'd still like to be able to do in the meanwhile. Any ideas?
    Last edited by NJPinator; March 27th, 2011 at 03:16 PM. Reason: More Infromation, Even More Information

  6. #6
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    Wink Re: USB boot via GRUB2...but weirder

    My Lubuntu 10.10 ISO is now on my Windows ME partition @ "(hd0,2)/Downloads/ISOs/lubuntu-10.10.iso", which is FAT32 formatted.

    After reading through your post on "loopback loop"-ing ISOs, and seeing that you've manually specified where the kernel and initial ramdisk files are located within the ISO, it got me wondering...

    Couldn't you chainload them using...

    Code:
    grub> loopback loop (hdX,Y)/file.iso
    grub> chainloader +1
    grub> boot
    ..., or are the bootloaders not within the ISOs themselves? If not, what gets the bootloader when you write the ISO to a USB or CD/DVD? This is kind of confusing me...a little.

    Also, could I get the kernel and initrd locations from a script in /boot within the ISO? I did this last time when my laptop couldn't get GRUB to boot from a logical partition. (I basically copied the text within some *.cfg file into the GRUB prompt, and it booted flawlessly!!!)

    P.S. I'm about to boot the ISO now...wish me luck!

    UPDATE ================================================

    I managed to get the ISO to boot, but it failed to finish loading X11. However, tty terminals 1 to 6 are available by pressing CTRL+ALT+Fx, where x is the tty#. All I get after boot is a mouse on a black desktop, but the terminals function properly:

    Code:
    ubuntu@ubuntu:~$
    Last edited by NJPinator; March 29th, 2011 at 01:25 PM. Reason: Added result of procedure

  7. #7
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    Exclamation Where to go now?!?!

    Come on, guys! I haven't solved this issue yet... I still can't get Lubuntu to boot properly! Here's a review for those who've already tried helping me, or if you're not sure what's been going on exactly:

    * I burned a Lubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" CD , downlaoded from the official website. The CD boots fine, but is slow (as CDs are) and the installation procedure crashes my machine

    * I created a Lubuntu USB, but my BIOS/CMOS doesn't support USB booting

    (I also could not find a BIOS update for my 2001 AMIBIOS. If anyone can help my here...thanks a bunch!)

    * I installed the PLOP boot manager, but this also fails to boot from my USB

    (for more information, or if you think you can resolve my PLOP issue, read this forum post)

    * So I tried to boot my USB from GRUB2, installing it on my hard-drive's MBR using the command grub-install through my GParted LiveCD, putting the /boot/grub directory on a 7MiB ext4 partition @ /dev/sda3 (or (hd0,3) to GRUB2)

    (GRUB2 failed to detect my USB device, which I'd assumed to be found as...
    Code:
    (hd1) (hd1,msdos1)
    Instead, the ls command only gave me...
    Code:
    (hd0) (hd0,msdos1) (hd0,msdos2) (hd0,msdos3) (fd0)
    Could this be due to my BIOS not supporting USB boot?

    * Taking a different approach, I tried booting the ISO off my hard-drive directly using a loopback loop command to mount the ISO at the fictional (loop) partition, and boot it from there

    (The OS booted well, until I was stuck with a black screen with a cursor. The cursor responded to my mouse, but there was no desktop to interact with. However, I can access the tty's by pressing CTRL+ALT+Fx, where 'x' is the tty number. These work fine. Would there be any way of installing the full GUI Lubuntu Desktop via the terminal? Any GUI applications obviously give me "cannot open display!".)

    * Now, I'm lost for ideas, partially because no-one has posted on this thread since my last failed attempt. I apologize to users drs305 and/or Hedgehog1 in advance if they just haven't checked this thread or have no info for me. Even though a response would be nice!

  8. #8
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    Re: Where to go now?!?!

    Quote Originally Posted by NJPinator View Post
    (The OS booted well, until I was stuck with a black screen with a cursor.
    1. That sounds like a video problem. If you can set the kernel option "nomodeset" you may be able to boot and then install a driver via System, Administration, Addl Drivers.

    If you are able to get to the Grub menu, you would press "e", edit the first menuentry, and use the cursor to remove "quiet splash" (if present) and add "nomodeset". Then CTRL-x to boot.

    2. If you get the two icons in the bottom middle of the screen as the CD/ISO boots, you should be able to press F6 twice to get to an options menu, where you can also select "nomodeset" as well as some other options.

    If you are able to mount the ISO, and are using G2, you can install from there. You just have to unmount the /isodevice to be able to complete the install. See my signature link "ISO Install"
    GRUB2

    Retired.

  9. #9
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    Talking Yay! A reply!

    Hi there again.

    Adding the "nomodeset" parameter wasn't needed when booting from a CD, but it'll be easy enough for me to try. By the "two icons", do you mean the accessibility circle and keyboard? I don't even get that when booting from CD, because it skips it, unlike the traditional Ubuntu CD. It automatically takes you to the menu with the options:

    * Try without installing
    * Install Lubuntu
    * Test memory
    * Boot from first HDD

    Obviously I can press F6 from there to get the "nomodeset" option and the "acpi" stuff. But via grub I guess I can just add the parameter to the end of the "linux /casper/vmlinuz ..." line.

    Also, could you possibly explain in more detail the process of installing from the GRUB2 prompt directly. I don't think I'll need to unmount the /isodevice directory, as I'm not installing to the partition the ISO resides on, but I'll look at your ISO-Install tutorial. Thanks in advance, I hope this works!

  10. #10
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    Re: Yay! A reply!

    Quote Originally Posted by NJPinator View Post
    By the "two icons", do you mean the accessibility circle and keyboard?
    Yes. But how dare you use proper terminology in a support forum!

    Also, could you possibly explain in more detail the process of installing from the GRUB2 prompt directly. I don't think I'll need to unmount the /isodevice directory, as I'm not installing to the partition the ISO resides on, but I'll look at your ISO-Install tutorial. Thanks in advance, I hope this works!
    If you have Grub2 installed, it's possible to mount the ISO file rather than boot from a CD/USB. I rarely burn Ubuntu or rescue CDs, as they will almost all boot from the Grub menu. While I build a menuentry in a custom menu, the same commands could be issued from the terminal I expect. The links to the ISO stuff are in my signature line.

    I've found that when installing via the ISO the installer complains in the steps following the partition designation if /isodevice isn't unmounted. Unmounting it doesn't appear to affect the CD's installer adversely, but it won't continue as long as /isodevice is mounted. This may or may not apply on the alternate CD but it has happened each time I've tried doing it with a normal Ubuntu installation CD.
    GRUB2

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