Ubuntu: `install-grub` claims that I have multiple partiton labels and that embedding is impossible



Question:

I am trying to get GRUB installed on my non-booting desktop computer, but I am encountering several errors. Other sources discussing these errors have ascribed them to either a lack of free disk space before the first partition (I have the requisite free space), or to a problem with /boot/grub/grub.cfg (problem persists even after regenerating that file correctly).

I booted with a live USB and attempted to reinstall GRUB using the following commands, but I encounter an error that prevents it from working:

  $ sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt  $ sudo grub-install --root-directory=/mnt /dev/sda  Installing for i386-pc platform.  grub-install: warning: Attempting to install GRUB to a disk with multiple partition labels.  This is not supported yet..  grub-install: warning: Embedding is not possible.  GRUB can only be installed in this setup by using blocklists.  However, blocklists are UNRELIABLE and their use is discouraged..  grub-install: error: will not proceed with blocklists.  

However, /dev/sda appears to be formatted correctly for installing grub:

  $ sudo fdisk -l /dev/sda    Disk /dev/sda: 111.8 GiB, 120034123776 bytes, 234441648 sectors  Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes  Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes  I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes  Disklabel type: dos  Disk identifier: 0x8d91017b    Device     Boot Start       End   Sectors   Size Id Type  /dev/sda1  *     2048 234440703 234438656 111.8G 83 Linux    $ blkid /dev/sda1  /dev/sda1: UUID="84e9ff65-c4ba-42eb-8a6d-ebc703fae1f7" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="8d91017b-01"  

It has the standard 1 MiB free space at the beginning, and /dev/sda1 is formatted correctly. I have tried using grub-mkconfig to rebuild the config file:

  $ for f in proc sys dev dev/pts ; do sudo mount --bind /$f /mnt/$f ; done  $ sudo chroot /mnt  # grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg  Generating grub configuration file ...  Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.19.0-26-generic  Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-3.19.0-26-generic  Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.19.0-23-generic  Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-3.19.0-23-generic  Adding boot menu entry for EFI firmware configuration  done  

However, I still get the same error message when running grub-install, whether in or out of the chroot environment.

Booting the live USB in legacy mode, I get the same error; the only difference is the output of running grub-mkconfig in the chroot environment:

  # grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg  Generating grub configuration file ...  Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.19.0-26-generic  Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-3.19.0-26-generic  Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.19.0-23-generic  Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-3.19.0-23-generic  Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.elf  Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.bin  Found Windows 7 (loader) on /dev/sdc1  done  

How can I get grub installed correctly?


Solution:1

Nuke the gap between the boot sector and the first partition.

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdX seek=1 count=2047  

That's for if the first partition starts at sector 2048. Some start earlier, especially on drives that were partitioned by Windows. To be sure, run

# fdisk -l /dev/sdX  

before starting and check to see where the first partition starts. Use count=S-1, where S is the start of the first partition.


Solution:2

One can create a new partition where the GPT record is, then wipe it using dd. That way, only the MBR record will remain.

Assuming problem device is /dev/sda:

Create a new partition in the initial 1 MiB

$ parted /dev/sda  $ mkpart primary ext4 0MiB 1MiB  $ quit  

Then, zero the newly created partition

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda2  

Then, delete the partition

$ parted /dev/sda  $ rm 2  $ quit  

grub-install should now work as expected.


Solution:3

Had a similar problem with the multiple partition labels, although i am quite sure that that is not the case.

sudo grub-install target=i386-pc /dev/sda --force  

is what I used to get around this. Tacking on a --force is not a "recommended" solution, but I have had no issues so far =P


Solution:4

Here is what I did that got it working again:

Used gdisk to convert the MBR partition to GPT, insert a partition into the empty space (type EF02 "BIOS Boot partition"), transposed its entry with my original partition, and flagged it as legacy BIOS bootable.

Then ran

  $ sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt  $ sudo grub-install --root-directory=/mnt /dev/sda  

It then installed successfully, and I able to boot to my main drive.


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