GRUB2 Quick Start

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This article provides information on how to get up and running with GRUB2 in the simplest configurations. For more comprehensive information, see GRUB2. For a migration from GRUB Legacy to GRUB2, see GRUB2 Migration.

Installing GRUB2 software

The sys-boot/grub package is slotted which means both grub-0.97 and grub-2.xx may be installed at the same time. However, while both versions of GRUB can be installed simultaneously, only one version of GRUB may be active as the system's bootloader at a time.

To install GRUB2, first set the GRUB_PLATFORMS variable with [an] appropriate value(s) in the system's make.conf. If unset, GRUB2 will guess which platform to use on the system. It guesses pc (which is the MBR style of installation) for x86/amd64 architectures.

FILE /etc/portage/make.confGRUB_PLATFORMS example
# Standard PC (BIOS)
# UEFI on amd64
# Both UEFI and PC
GRUB_PLATFORMS="efi-64 pc"

After the variable is set, emerge the software:

root #emerge --ask sys-boot/grub:2

Activating the GRUB2 boot loader

Mount /boot if applicable:

root #mount /boot

When using an EFI platform, make sure that the EFI System Partition is available (mounted) at /boot/efi. This can either be through a specific mount point (at /boot/efi) or by having an entire /boot partition formatted with the FAT filesystem. This will effectually render /boot into a large EFI System Partition.

Presuming only /boot/efi is FAT:

root #mount /boot/efi

Run the grub2-install utility to copy the relevant files to /boot/grub. On the PC platform, this also installs a boot image to the Master Boot Record (MBR) or a partition's boot sector.

To install GRUB2 to the MBR:

root #grub2-install /dev/sda
Installation finished. No error reported.

To install GRUB2 on an EFI capable system:

root #grub2-install --target=x86_64-efi
Installation finished. No error reported.
When installing GRUB2 to an EFI capable system (like the example above) is giving troubles, make sure the GRUB_PLATFORMS variable is properly set in /etc/portage/make.conf

The grub2-install command accepts a --target option to specify which CPU/Platform to install. If unspecified, grub2-install will make a guess: on x86/amd64 it will use the i386-pc value by default.

Automatic configuration

GRUB2 is traditionally configured by using the grub2-mkconfig program to generate a configuration file.

grub2-mkconfig generates the configuration file based on template sections located in /etc/grub.d. The default templates should cover most common boot setups.

user $ls /etc/grub.d
00_header  10_linux  20_linux_xen  30_os-prober  40_custom  41_custom  README

The behavior of these templates can be controlled by setting variables in /etc/default/grub. See the GRUB manual for more information.

Kernel naming scheme

In order for grub2-mkconfig to detect the available Linux kernel(s), their names must start with vmlinuz- or kernel-.

For example:

CODE Example kernel names that GRUB2 can detect

When using an initramfs, its name should start with initramfs- or initrd- and end with .img. The version must match one of a kernel image. File names generated by genkernel will also work.

For example:

CODE Example initramfs names that GRUB2 can detect

To generate the grub.cfg file, execute the grub2-mkconfig command like so:

root #grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
Generating grub.cfg ...
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.9

Silent kernel decompression

To silence kernel decompression at boot time, edit /etc/default/grub and add quiet to the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT variable.

FILE /etc/default/grubSilent decompression example


To boot systemd while using GRUB2 make the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX variable look like this:

FILE /etc/default/grubSystemd example

Loading another operating system

grub2-mkconfig can also generate configurations to load other operating systems. This requires the sys-boot/os-prober package.

To boot Windows, the sys-fs/ntfs3g also needs to be installed. It allows for the grub2-mkconfig utility to probe NTFS filesystems.

Manual configuration

Users do not need to use grub2-mkconfig. The grub.cfg file can be edited manually as well.

As most users have experience with GRUB Legacy format, the next example shows how to write a GRUB2 configuration file based on information from the GRUB Legacy configuration.

grub.conf (GRUB Legacy) grub.cfg (GRUB 2)
timeout 5

title Gentoo Linux 3.2.12
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/kernel-3.2.12-gentoo root=/dev/sda3


menuentry 'Gentoo Linux 3.2.12' {
linux /boot/kernel-3.2.12-gentoo root=/dev/sda3

See also

  • GRUB2 - The 'full' GRUB2 article contains more information and an extensive list of resources.