Saturday, October 02, 2010

I've replaced Grub2 with Bootman on Dell E520

I've used Grub for a long time on all of my computers to boot everything (Linux, Windows, Haiku, BeOS and even an x86 version of OS X).
But having been using Haiku R1A2 intensively over the last week or two, I wanted to try out its bootloader in a multiboot environment.
On my Dell Dimension E520 I have Ubuntu, Haiku R1A2, a recent Haiku nightly, Windows 7 and Windows XP.
To install Bootman on the MBR, I opened Haiku R1A2 and launched a terminal window.
Now I typed "bootman" and a wizard opened up which was very easy to follow.
Bootman then listed all partitions, whether bootable or not, and asked which did I want to include in the boot menu.
Here you must select the Windows Boot Manager (or NTLDR) rather than the partitions holding the various Windows versions as these latter won't boot by themselves.
Choosing the loader will open the Windows boot menu, as with Grub2, where you can choose between various Windows versions.
When I rebooted my computer, the Bootman boot menu showed up. It's very basic and just shows a list of bootable options (assuming YOU chose only bootable options), each of which is a different color, on a black background.
I haven't yet explored how easy it is to edit boot options to, for example, select recovery mode to boot a Linux OS.
Nevertheless, Bootman certainly works.
Can't say it's better or worse than Grub2 but it certainly is not as pretty as you can't change the boot splash image.
Another problem I had was that initially Ubuntu wouldn't boot because its bootloader (Grub2) had been in the MBR and I hadn't replaced the bootloader on the / partition.
I used this guide to try to install Grub2 to /dev/sda5 but the installer got somewhat upset about this and claimed it was a BAD idea as blocklists are not reliable. Can't say I fully understand this but it refused to do the installation I wanted unless I added "--force" to the command which now became
#grub-install /dev/sda5 --force
Inspite of the lamentations from Grub, this installed fine and allowed me to boot Ubuntu 10.10 with Bootman.
As an addendum, this thread contains some useful pointers.

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