Ubuntu: How can I repair grub? (How to get Ubuntu back after installing Windows?)


I installed Windows 7, which ate Ubuntu's boot file. When starting up the computer, it now goes straight to Windows, without giving me the option of booting Ubuntu.

How can I get Ubuntu back?


When you install Windows, Windows assumes it is the only operating system (OS) on the machine, or at least it does not account for Linux. So it replaces GRUB with its own boot loader. What you have to do is replace the Windows boot loader with GRUB. I've seen various instructions for replacing GRUB by mucking around with GRUB commands or some such, but to me the easiest way is to simply chroot into your install and run update-grub. chroot is great because it allows you to work on your actual install, instead of trying to redirect things here and there. It is really clean.

Here's how:

  1. Boot from the live CD or live USB, in "Try Ubuntu" mode.
  2. Determine the partition number of your main partition. GParted (which should already be installed, by default, on the live session) can help you here. I'm going to assume in this answer that it's /dev/sda2, but make sure you use the correct partition number for your system!
  3. Mount your partition:

    sudo mount /dev/sda2 /mnt  #Replace sda2 with your partition number  
  4. Bind mount some other necessary stuff:

    for i in /sys /proc /run /dev; do sudo mount --bind "$i" "/mnt$i"; done  
  5. If Ubuntu is installed in EFI mode (see this answer if you're unsure), use GParted to find your EFI partition. It will have a label of EFI. Mount this partition, replacing sdXY with the actual partition number for your system:

    sudo mount /dev/sdXY /mnt/boot/efi  
  6. chroot into your Ubuntu install:

    sudo chroot /mnt  
  7. At this point, you're in your install, not the live session, and running as root. Update grub:


    If you get errors or if going up to step 7 didn't fix your problem, go to step 8. (Otherwise, it is optional.)

  8. Depending on your situation, you might have to reinstall grub:

    grub-install /dev/sda  update-grub # In order to find and add windows to grub menu.  
  9. If everything worked without errors, then you're all set:

    exit  sudo reboot  
  10. At this point, you should be able to boot normally.

If you cannot boot normally, and didn't do step 8 because there were no error messages, try again with step 8.

  • Sometimes giving GRUB2 the correct configuration for your partitions is not enough, and you must actually install it (or reinstall it) to the Master Boot Record, which step 8 does. Experience helping users in chat has shown that step 8 is sometimes necessary even when no error messages are shown.


The Windows installer doesn't care about other OS in the system. So it writes own code over the master boot record. Fortunately the solution is easy too.

You need to repair the MBR. Do the following

Boot using a live usb/cd of ubuntu. Use boot-repair to fix the problem.

After booting with live usb/cd, run following command in terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get update  sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && boot-repair  

Use Recomended Repair.

enter image description here

More info - https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Boot-Repair


I never got in trouble by using these instructions:

First of all, you must start your system from a live cd. Then


This method of installation uses the chroot command to gain access to the broken system's files. Once the chroot command is issued, the LiveCD treats the broken system's / as its own. Commands run in a chroot environment will affect the broken systems filesystems and not those of the LiveCD.

  1. Boot to the LiveCD Desktop (Ubuntu 9.10 or later). Please note that the Live CD must be the same as the system you are fixing - either 32-bit or 64-bit (if not then the chroot will fail).

  2. Open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal).

  3. Determine your normal system partition - (the switch is a lowercase "L")

    sudo fdisk -l  

    If you aren't sure, run

    df -Th    

    Look for the correct disk size and ext3 or ext4 format.

  4. Mount your normal system partition:

    Substitute the correct partition: sda1, sdb5, etc.

    sudo mount /dev/sdXX /mnt    

    Example: sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt

  5. Only if you have a separate boot partition: sdYY is the /boot partition designation (for example sdb3)

    sudo mount /dev/sdYY /mnt/boot  
  6. Mount the critical virtual filesystems:

    sudo mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev  sudo mount --bind /dev/pts /mnt/dev/pts  sudo mount --bind /proc /mnt/proc  sudo mount --bind /sys /mnt/sys  
  7. Chroot into your normal system device:

    sudo chroot /mnt  
  8. If there is no /boot/grub/grub.cfg or it's not correct, create one using

  9. Reinstall GRUB 2:

    Substitute the correct device - sda, sdb, etc. Do not specify a partition number.

    grub-install /dev/sdX  
  10. Verify the install (use the correct device, for example sda. Do not specify a partition):

    sudo grub-install --recheck /dev/sdX  
  11. Exit chroot: CTRL-D on keyboard

  12. Unmount virtual filesystems:

    sudo umount /mnt/dev/pts  sudo umount /mnt/dev  sudo umount /mnt/proc  sudo umount /mnt/sys  
  13. If you mounted a separate /boot partition:

    sudo umount /mnt/boot  
  14. Unmount the LiveCD's /usr directory:

    sudo umount /mnt/usr  
  15. Unmount last device:

    sudo umount /mnt  
  16. Reboot.

    sudo reboot  


Boot from a live Ubuntu USB pendrive or CD and
Install Boot-Repair on ubuntu by following steps

Open the terminal and run the following commands

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair  sudo apt-get update  sudo apt-get install boot-repair  

After completing the installation you can launch it from System->Administration->Boot-Repair menu if you use Gnome, or search "boot-repair" in the dash if you use Unity. Then follow the following screenshots:

Method 1

  • Click on the advanced options

Initial screen

  • Tick the options shown below

advanced option

  • Change the tab to Grub Location Tab and Tick The options Shown in the figure

enter image description here

Press Apply and Reboot the system

Method 2

  • Select the recommended Boot repair options as shown in the first screenshot

Documentation :


Just install easyBCD in Windows 7 and do

Add New Entry > Linux/BSD > (select ) Grub2 > (push) Add Entry

Then you can choose Ubuntu on the Windows 7 bootloader to go to Grub2 (previous bootloader).


There is now a simpler solution:

  1. Reboot, and enter your computer's BIOS options (F2, or sometimes F11).
  2. Go to the Boot menu, and select Boot Device Priority
  3. Check if Windows Boot Manager is above the main boot drive (usually SATA HDD … or IDE HDD …). If it is, move the boot disk priority above that of Windows Boot Manager.
  4. Save your BIOS options, and exit (usually F10).

This has been tested on a Samsung Series 7 Chronos laptop dual booting Windows 8 and Ubuntu 13.10, secure boot disabled, UEFI and legacy boot enabled.


Boot-Repair worked for me. It's very very easy to use graphical application, you do not need to use the command line, you only have to click a button :)

All the available repair options are described in the Ubuntu documentation and there is a separate page explaining how to start Boot-Repair (by creating a bootable disk or installing it in an existing Ubuntu live disk) and how to use it.

Just boot a Ubuntu live CD, install Boot-Repair and run it.


When GRUB is broken, the user generally does not have access to systems, so repair must be performed from a live-session (live-CD or live-USB).

There are many possible causes to a GRUB break: Windows writing on the MBR, DRM preventing GRUB from installing correctly, installer bug, hardware change... Updating GRUB as proposed initially by Scott is generally not sufficient, reinstalling GRUB as proposed by Marco is more efficient, but still there are various situations requiring other tweaks (adding options to kernel, unhiding GRUB menu, changing GRUB options, choosing the right host architecture...). Other difficulties for repairing GRUB is the use of chroot, and the choice of the right partitions /disks.

All of this has been made easy in a little graphical tool: Boot-Repair. It shall be integrated in Ubuntu 12.04 CD for easier use, but for people needing it now, there are already some distros integrating it: Ubuntu-Secured-Remix (Ubuntu CD integrating Boot-Repair), Boot-Repair-Disk (CD running Boot-Repair at start-up), ...

Hope this helps.


Windows does not see Linux formatted partitions. You need to use gparted from a liveCD and create a primary partition formatted NTFS with the boot flag.

Some have had issues if the new primary partition is after the extended partition as Windows does not always reset partition table correctly. Best to have good backups and a separate backup of partition table.

Backup partition table to text file & save to external device.

sudo sfdisk -d /dev/sda > PTsda.txt  

This is only for MBR (msdos) systems. If your Ubuntu install is in GPT partition drive you can only install Windows in UEFI mode or convert drive back to MBR (msdos).


On EFI-based systems (such as most systems that shipped with Windows 8 or later), Windows will sometimes update its boot loader or reset it to be the default boot loader. This is particularly common when re-installing the OS or performing a major system update (upgrading to the latest Windows release, for instance). Note that Windows is unlikely to actually erase any GRUB files on an EFI-based computer. Everything needed to boot Ubuntu is still in place; it's just being bypassed. In these cases, a complete re-installation of GRUB is overkill, and in fact that carries a (small) chance that it will create new problems.

Thus, instead of re-installing GRUB in these cases, I recommend resetting GRUB (or whatever boot loader or boot manager you prefer) to be the default. There are several ways to do this, including:

  • EasyUEFI -- The easiest way to adjust the boot order, if the system is booting straight to Windows, is to use EasyUEFI, which is a free (for the basic version) third-party GUI tool for managing the EFI boot order. It's pretty self-explanatory -- locate the ubuntu entry in the list of boot options and move it to the top of the list. The next time you reboot, GRUB should come up. (If you use something other than GRUB, you'll need to locate its entry.)
  • bcdedit -- The Windows bcdedit tool can be used to set GRUB to the default boot order. The command bcdedit /set {bootmgr} path \EFI\ubuntu\grubx64.efi, typed in an Administrator Command Prompt window, will do this; however, if your computer boots with Secure Boot active, bcdedit /set {bootmgr} path \EFI\ubuntu\shimx64.efi will be required instead. In fact, the latter command will usually work even if Secure Boot is not in use, so I'd use that command first. Note that there's a more advanced Windows shell tool that requires a slightly different syntax than I've presented, but I don't recall the details.
  • One-time boot to Ubuntu -- Most EFIs provide a built-in boot manager, accessed by hitting a function key, Esc, or Enter early in the system start process. Chances are the ubuntu entry to boot Ubuntu will show up in this boot manager menu, enabling you to boot to Ubuntu. Alternatively, you could boot to an Ubuntu emergency medium, like the installer booted in "try before installing" mode. Either way, you can then use efibootmgr to adjust the boot order:
    1. Type sudo efibootmgr to see the boot entries.
    2. Note the current BootOrder line.
    3. Locate the entry for ubuntu and note its Boot#### number.
    4. Type sudo efibootmgr -o xxxx[,yyyy,zzzz,....] to change the boot order, making xxxx the number for Ubuntu. What comes after that is most likely not very important, although I've noted that Windows seems to be likely to add itself back to the start of the boot order if it's not in the list. Thus, you should probably ensure that Windows is in the list, and it may be safest to re-order the list so that all the original entries are there, just with the ubuntu entry moved to the top of the list.
  • Firmware setup utility -- Some EFIs' setup utilities enable you to adjust the boot order. Details vary greatly from one EFI to another, so I won't go into specifics, but you could look for such an option in your setup utility.

There are other variants on these procedures, such as using bcfg in an EFI shell, using bless in macOS, using my rEFInd to do a one-time boot, etc. I'd start with EasyUEFI, though; it's likely to be the simplest solution. Sometimes Windows insists on making itself the default every time it starts up, though, and reports indicate that bcdedit may do a better job of dealing with that problem.

Note that none of the preceding applies to BIOS-mode installations; however, as most computers that shipped with Windows 8 or later boot in EFI mode, BIOS-mode installations are becoming increasingly rare, so in many cases it's better to deal with the issue in the EFI way rather than by blindly re-installing GRUB.

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