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  1. #1

    Question Where does the GRUB loader get installed to

    Hello all

    I've posted this question many times, with no definite answer, quite surprising really as so many people are using Linux/Ubuntu.

    I'm doing a quad boot on my Macbook Pro.

    The configuration of partitions are:

    WIN 7 - DOS
    MAC - HFS+
    FREE (Soon to be Linux & SWAP)

    When I get to the point where I'm installing Unbuntu & asked where to install the BOOT LOADER, I've tried a few places.

    My Linux partition is DEV/SDA 7 - EXT 3 file system & DEV/SDA 6 SWAP file location.

    The post I originally read to do the quad boot, the instructor had a FAT 32 STORAGE space on partition 2.

    Then when they installed the boot loader for Ubuntu via the Advanced settings,the picture they presented, they typed (hd0,2) as the place where they wanted the boot loader to go.

    After researching I believe (hd0,2) refers to partition 2 - which would have been the storage space with no operating system in it.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't (hdx,y) refer to an IDE/PATA drive & (sdx,y) refers to a SATA drive?

    So I've tried:

    1) (hd0,2) - caused the WIN 7 boot icon to disappear from rEFIT & Linux wouldn't boot anyway.

    2) (hd0,5) - created an extra Linux icon on the rEFIT boot page - other mac,win 7 , win xp stayed - linux wouldn't boot

    3) (hd0,7) - again created another boot icon on the rEFIt boot page - other mac,win 7, win xp stayed - linux wouldn't boot

    4) (hd0,0) or DEV/SDA hard drive main root - which moved the Linux icon to the left next to the Mac one.

    When in this position it seemed to control the Mac & Win 7 & Win XP boot up.

    Basically click on Linux, GRUB menu appeared with choice of ALL 4 operating systems.

    Click on Mac, Mac booted up.

    Click on Win 7 - GRUB menu appeared with the choice.

    Click on Win XP - GRUB menu appeared with the choice.

    So my initial theory is the GRUB should be either on the ROOT DEV/SDA or on the ACTUAL PARTITION where the SYSTEM FILES are installed, in my CASE DEV/SDA 7?

    If on DEV/SDA 7, how do you stop it conflicting with the WINDOWS boot loaders?

    If there is NO way of having the GRUB working with the WINDOWS boot loaders, then I will settle for the WAY I had it where the GRUB MENU would appear & give the choice of operating system to boot up.

    Alternatively I am rearranging the partition structure to:

    WIN 7
    WIN XP
    FREE ( soon to be Linux & SWAP file)

    Just to see if it makes any difference.

    I did move the WIN 7 & WIN XP around & got an ERROR - Missing Hal.dll file when I tried to boot up WIN XP, so gone back to the other arrangement.

    Thanks for reading & I look forward to your replies.
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  2. #2
    Linux Guru coopstah13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    NH, USA
    grub can boot windows

    disk/partition numbering starts from 0, so take partition number, subtract 1, and that it what grub config will use for that disk

    if you don't want grub installed into MBR, you should have it installed into filesystem of linux OS, I can't tell you what it is, since you haven't posted exact partition structure

    if you can post output of sudo fdisk -l command from ubuntu livecd it would be helpful

  3. #3


    Hello coopstah13

    I have just partitioned Linux SWAP file space & EXT 3 file system space again - see picture.

    If I put GRUB into the main MBR, I presume it will control the BOOT up of all operating sytems? - (I think I've already experienced this)

    If I place the GRUB just in the (as you suggest 1 partition SPACE, BEFORE) the LINUX file system location, will LINUX boot up as normal when I choose to click that icon from the boot page?

    The first couple of pictures show the PARTITION structure now, however looking at it, its got me thinking - DO THE SWAP FILE & EXT partitions have to be next to each other as I seem to have the Mac partition in between the SWAP FILE & EXT FILES ?

    The last pictures show how the partition structure was initially & in light of the above paragraph I'm reluctant to go back to that structure if this one doesn't work out.

    For clarity, the last pictures (1,14) the EXT 3 system files were installed on DEV/SDA 7 with the SWAP FILE on DEV/SDA 6.

    Now pictures (12,6) the EXT 3 system files are on DEV/SDA 7 with the SWAP FILE on DEV/SDA 5.

    What would happen If I put the GRUB into the SWAP FILE area?

    Thanks for your speedy reply.
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  5. #4


    Just an update on the above post.

    I've finished installing Ubuntu - DEV/SDA 5 SWAP FILE / DEV/SDA 7 EXT 3 files.

    The GRUB was installed - DEV/SDA 6 (MAC OSX partition - followed advice that GRUB should go on the partition before the ACTUAL FILES)

    Now when I boot up the Macbook Pro, I get the rEFIt boot menu with all 4 boot icons.

    Click on Apple - it loads ok.
    Click on Partition 2 (WIN 7) - error operating system
    Click on Partition 4 (WIN XP) - it loads ok.
    Click on Linux Partition (says boot from Mac) - as this is where GRUB is - error operating system.

    To fix WIN 7 boot loader problem I ran WIN 7 DVD & Clicked on REPAIR & RAN DOS PROMPTS.

    bootrec.exe /fixboot - enter
    bootrec.exe /fixmbr -enter

    Successfully loaded - RESTARTED system.

    Clicked on Apple - loads ok.
    Clicked on Win 7 - loads ok.
    Clicked on Win XP - loads ok.
    Clicked on Linux - WINDOWS 7 loads!

    Nearly got the combo right, just need to find where to put the GRUB, so Linux boots/loads up independently.

  6. #5
    Linux Guru coopstah13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    NH, USA
    like i said, you need to install it into linux partition, you can't install it into swap, this is special area managed by linux kernel

    based on what you are saying, should be hd0,6 which isn't to be confused with /dev/sda6, that is /dev/sda7 device

  7. #6


    So if I install EXT 3 system files to say DEV/SDA 7 then when I'm at the point (Advanced Tab) where I'm asked where to install the BOOT LOADER - I should type in (hd0,6).

    So in effect where ever I place/install the EXT3 or 4 files, the BOOT LOADER has to be installed one (hdx,y) space away - DEV/SDA 4 - (hd0,3)?

    In my earlier reply I mentioned I'd re-installed again to DEV/SDA 7 EXT 3 - so I should have put the BOOT loader in (hd0,6) instead of SDA 6.

    Yes I am getting confused with the correct interpretation of what these terms mean (hd0,0) & SDA.

    I'm sure I read another article that (hd0,0) refers to an IDE/PATA hard drive.

    The SDA refers to a SATA hard drive.

    So when I get to the Linux partitions page & see - DEV/SDA 1,2,3,4 etc - What does that mean - a partition space on the the hard drive DEV/SDA (being the main root)?

    What is DEV/SDA -1 - is this FREE space?

    So why can't I see (hd0,0) in the same partition table?

    So if I wasn't installing a MULTI boot system & say for example just installing Linux, would I install the BOOT loader anywhere else other than a (hdx,y) setting.

    As you know there is a lot of choice to choose from when you click the drop down box in the Advanced tab section.

    Anyway I think I'm grasping the Linux principles, very grateful for your time in explaining how things work with this operating system.

    Thankyou - coopstah13
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  8. #7
    Linux Guru coopstah13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    NH, USA
    what i'm saying is, grub refers to disks/partitions starting number 0

    if you are running the linux installer, and it asks where to install grub bootloader, and you aren't installing in MBR (which you aren't) then you have to install it to the same partition you just installed the OS in

    so if you created root filesystem in /dev/sda7 then you install grub in /dev/sda7

  9. #8


    I tried that method yesterday - created root filesystem in /dev/sda7 then installed grub in /dev/sda7 - nothing happened the Linux/unbuntu would not boot up from the boot page or through any other operating system.

    Hence the reason for me making various posts on the matter on where to install the boot loader, to get the operating system to work properly.

    So I have 1 hard drive with many partitions - grub will see this as (hd0,x) dependent on where I want to put the Boot Loader if I'm putting it into the MBR.

    If I do put the boot loader into the MBR, I use the (hdx,y) settings? - Yes I believe.

    If I do not put the boot loader into the MBR & install boot loader directly into what ever DEV/SDA partition how is it to boot up when I select the icon from the boot page?

  10. #9
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Tucson AZ
    If I do not put the boot loader into the MBR & install boot loader directly into what ever DEV/SDA partition how is it to boot up when I select the icon from the boot page?
    If you do that, it is the responsibility of whatever bootloader (Mac?) you have in the mbr to point to Grub on that partition.

    I'm sure I read another article that (hd0,0) refers to an IDE/PATA hard drive.
    the (hd0,0) numbering is for Grub and it does not matter if it is IDE/Sata??
    The SDA refers to a SATA hard drive.
    Used to, not any more. Newer Linux systems refer to hard drives with the "s" as in sda regardless of the type of drive. Not all distributions do this but many do.

    I think part of the problem here is that you indicate you have installed Ubuntu but not which version. Versions since 9.10 use Grub2 which has changed changed its numbering. Grub Legacy numbered drives and partitions from zero (0), Grub 2 numbers drives from zero (0) and partitions beginning with one (1).

  11. #10


    Thanks Yancek

    The version of Unbuntu is Ultimate 2.7 - which is based on the 10.04.01 LTS version.

    I've tried the 64 bit version, now I am going yo install the 32 bit one, purely to save space & RAM resources.

    I am following instructions to create a quad boot system on my macbook pro.

    This is where I got the idea from:

    I have a macbook pro, 500gb Sata hard drive with 5 partitions - snow leopard,Win 7,Win Xp & Ubuntu - rEFIt is the boot menu, which allows the user to choose which operating system they want to use or boot up.

    If you read the whole of my post you will see that I have tried many different combination's of installation already.

    There is no problem with installing - MAC OSX, WIN 7 & WIN XP - ALL 3 work great when BOOTED individually from the rEFIt boot menu.

    Its the configuration of LINUX that is the problem, and after many hours & different configurations of placing the LINUX boot loader into different locations.

    The ONLY configuration where ALL 4 operating systems BOOTED up was when I installed the LINUX BOOT LOADER into DEV/SDA (SEE PIC top LINE)

    Once installed & machne rebooted to the rEFIT boot page the GRUB loader menu appeared every time I chose either - Linux,Win 7 or Win XP - Not Mac Osx.

    There are many threads / posts /blogs of other people doing this successfully on the same machine with the same software.

    So if I'm using Ubuntu ultimate 2.7 or 10.04.01 & the GRUB 2 loader labels partitions & drives differently where should I put the boot loader then if again for example my EXT 3 or 4 files system is installed in DEV/SDA 7?

    If I install the Linux Boot loader into the actual Linux file partition & it is the responsibility of the OTHER boot loader to boot up Linux if i choose that operating system, it doesn't work, as I've tried that already!

    It seems to be that, that boot loader in question is pointing to the GRUB loader for Linux to boot up.

    So if the advice previous to yours from Coopstah13, is it reference to GRUB legacy or GRUB2?

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