The trick to getting GAG

Grub sucks. I know, I know: It works well and it’s very good at what it does. But Grub is probably in the top five of all the problems Ubuntu newbs have, and by not being the least bit user-friendly, it has rightfully earned a bad reputation.

Now GAG, on the other hand, is very easy to work with. A pretty (by comparison) startup menu with push-button menu options, dead-simple configuration and cute icons for each operating system. Newbs will squeal with delight. (Screenshots are on the GAG site, if you don’t mind following the link.)

The only downside is that GAG and Grub don’t really … coexist. Ubuntu installs Grub by default to the master boot record, and GAG wants the same space. So if you pop the GAG CD into the drive and install it … presto! a busted system. GAG needs Grub, to have something to point to.

So here’s the trick: When you build your system, set up a separate partition for booting — like a nice little 96Mb /boot partition. Put your root partition right next to it, and give it all the space you want. You can even dump your /home files in there too. It shouldn’t matter.

Then, when you get to the part where Ubuntu tries to install a bootloader, hit escape like a crazy monkey pecking at a typewriter. Then follow the menu sequences to install Grub to the boot partition — not to the master boot record. In other words, hda1 and not hda.

When you reboot, you should still be able to start your system (it worked for me after an expert installation with Grub on hda1). Now pop the GAG CD into the drive, and let it set itself up to the master boot record. Your boot partition will probably be option B (Linux ext2 or maybe ext3), but that will vary if you set your system up differently.

Install to the hard drive, pull the CD and reboot. And now you have a nifty Tux icon for your Ubuntu system. Press of a button and — woo-hoo! it starts!

P.S.: Installing GAG on an existing system might be a little funkier. You’ll have to pick a new home for Grub, and make sure it installs OK, and to be honest, I don’t have a system I can tinker with to get that going. You’re on your own with that one.

P.P.S.: Be careful trying this out. If you totally hose an existing system by crapping out your master boot record … well, I did it too, but that’s not much consolation, is it?


3 thoughts on “The trick to getting GAG

  1. Bruno

    Couldn’t you install grub on the root partition instead of creating a dedicated boot partition?

    The grub menu needs some love indeed. 🙂

  2. kmandla Post author

    I think so. I should’ve tried it that way too. If I get a chance to break something in the next day or so, I’ll see if I can get it working off the root partition.

    I’m used to setting up a split /boot, and so I did it that way first. 🙄


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