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After running Update Manager, a debconf window (titled "Configuring grub-pc"), popped up, requiring me to select the appropriateGRUB install devices for my system. I've made no changes to grub or the filesystem recently, and I don't remember what options I selected last time I did make a change.

How do I know what to select? I'm assuming the wrong answer could render my system unable to boot.

Here's the debconf dialog:

Debconf window, configuring grub-pc, containing check-boxes for /dev/sda and /dev/sda1

Here's the window and text that is displayed when selecting "help" :

Grub was previously installed to a disk that is no longer present

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This dialog also crops up when upgrading a virtualbox vm's ubuntu version (in my case, 10.10 -> 11.04). –  Noel Jun 7 '11 at 13:33
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1 Answer 1

up vote 15 down vote accepted

In your case, the correct selection is /dev/sda, the first one. It's the first and only hard disk in your system, whereas /dev/sda1 is a partition on that hard disk. You can install grub on a partition, but it's a "BAD idea".

If you had multiple hard drives and paritions, first find out where your root partition is:

df | grep /$

You can then install grub on that hard drive. Notice, this command will show /dev/sda1, meaning you have to select the hard drive on which it is, /dev/sda, to install grub into the master boot record (every hdd has only one mbr, no matter the partitions).

Though why you're asked the question, I have no idea. :)

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To finish off the story (which has ended well enough): I selected /dev/sda as suggested. On the next window, I was asked if I wanted to continue without installing grub. Odd, of course, since I had just asked to install it. There was a checkbox to mark to continue without installing, or, if I pressed the "Forward" button, it went back to the previous screen, asking where I wanted to install grub. Instead of looping forever, I checked the box, told it not to install grub and crossed my fingers. On reboot, there were no problems. It remains perplexing why this interaction was required. –  belacqua Jan 27 '11 at 6:01
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@StefanoPalazzo So what causes the install/don't install loop? I just had the same experience in 12.04. –  Wes Miller Dec 30 '13 at 13:55
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