Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Okay, so I'm relatively new to Ubuntu. I've searched and found solutions related to my problem but none that have so far directly worked.

After figuring out how to free up space to make a partition on my computer in order to install Ubuntu 11.10 side-by-side with Windows and installing it, and rebooting my computer, I found myself staring at the Ubuntu login. But it never asked me whether I wanted to boot Windows 7 or Ubuntu, and every time I restart the computer it takes me straight to the Ubuntu login.

My computer is an eMachine EL1333G-01w. Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit was pre-installed originally, and the entire hard drive was basically dedicated as "eMachines" (which made it really annoying installing Ubuntu since they stole the whole hard drive as a Windows partition, which I figured how to cut down).

After a little (frustrating) search I discovered something called the bootloader and that Ubuntu automatically uses GRUB to let you choose which OS to use. The problem is, GRUB doesn't seem to be working, or it doesn't seem to have been installed at all. I've looked through the Software Center and downloaded what I believed to be GRUB but that didn't work.

When I turn on the computer, the first thing I see is the "e" symbol with two options on the bottom: boot options and Setup Menu, which prompts me to believe the bootloader wasn't properly implemented or installed. Then the screen displays "Input Display Out of Range" for a few seconds, and then the Ubuntu login pops up. I found something called boot-repair but the Ubuntu wouldn't run it whether as a file or off a CD I burned. Entering "grub" into the terminal tells me it's not installed, and after following directions to install it and rebooting, the same thing occurs. Typing "grub" gets me "Probing Devices to guess BIOS drives. This may take a long time.", so I've been waiting for a while, with nothing happening.

Most problems I see involve people unable to boot into Windows from GRUB, but GRUB doesn't even show up on my system. Can someone help me with this?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

Entering "grub" into the terminal tells me it's not installed, and after following directions to install it and rebooting, the same thing occurs.

GRUB2 doesn't have a "grub" command, you use grub-install to install grub2. What you've done by running sudo apt-get install grub is to install grub-legacy and remove the grub2 package. This is not what you want (though thankfully it doesn't remove /boot/grub or modify the mbr+embedded area so you're still booting via grub2 even without the package installed). The first thing you should do is run sudo apt-get install grub-pc to re-install the grub2 package (in the rest of this answer I will refer to GRUB2 as simply "grub").

The problem is, GRUB doesn't seem to be working, or it doesn't seem to have been installed at all.

Grub is definitely installed, you wouldn't be able to boot Ubuntu without it. There is a chain of problems, most likely the root of which is that your Windows installation is broken.

This chain of problems is as follows:

  1. You're not seeing the grub menu at boot because Ubuntu hides the grub menu when it has detected that you're only running one OS on your computer. Which means that
  2. os-prober (which grub uses to detect other OSs) is not finding any OS other than Ubuntu, i.e. os-prober is not detecting your Windows installation, or at least was not detecting it when update-grub was last run. This most likely means that
  3. Your Windows installation is missing files which are critically needed to be able to boot Windows. The most common reason for these files to be missing is that the user accidentally removed the Windows "System" partition, which is a small partition near the beginning of the drive containing Windows' bootloader.

There are some other possible reasons for os-prober not finding your Windows installation, but they're extremely uncommon. The only solution to this problem is to fix your Windows install, and unfortunately I don't know how to do that outside of a complete re-install of Windows (others may have a better solution for fixing Windows though, and you definitely can backup all your important documents from Windows using Ubuntu before you re-install Windows)

To confirm that it's your Windows installation that's broken (or not, as the case may be) please run sudo os-prober and tell us what it outputs, if anything, and run Boot Info Script http://sourceforge.net/projects/bootinfoscript/ and post the RESULTS.txt that it produces.

share|improve this answer

You can find a very good guide about GRUB 2 here:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1195275

There's a part about reinstalling GRUB from the Live CD (section 13), have you given it a try?

EDIT: Jordan Uggla gives a much better answer here.

A broken Windows installation does seem to be the simplest explanation. However, as you say that you created new partitions for Ubuntu, I assumed that you didn't use any of the existing partitions when installing Ubuntu, is that right? If so, I'm not sure how you could have erased the Windows bootloader.

A simple way to check that would be to look at the root of all the Windows partitions under Ubuntu and search for the following Windows 7 bootloader items: the files bootmgr and BOOTSECT.BAK, and the folder Boot.

If you can't find them, you could probably get them from another install of the same version of Windows or use the boot repair utility in the Windows installation CD. If you choose the second option you won't be able to access Ubuntu once the Windows bootloader has been repaired, and you'll have to either reinstall Grub from the Ubuntu Live CD or use a software like EasyBCD under Windows to add Ubuntu to the Windows bootloader OS list.

share|improve this answer

Your best bet is probably going to be Boot-Repair. I've used it a number of times and found it to be by far the easiest way of repairing grub.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.