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I know Grub is the one installed by default when installing Ubuntu but I am faced with an embedded system running 9.10 Desktop Edition. Following are the contents of lsb-release file

ubuntu@ubuntu-desktop:/boot$ cat /etc/lsb-release

but this system does not have Grub bootloader and I want to find out which one its using. So any ideas?

share|improve this question lists all the boot loaders available in Debian, if you'd like to check each one. What arch is the system? Just leaving a comment as this isn't a proper answer... – andrewsomething Feb 2 '11 at 15:25
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The boot info script will detect all kinds of useful information about your boot configuration:

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If you have the /etc/lilo.conf file then you are using LILO (LInux LOader) This means that if you type lilo for example you should see the command dialog for the lilo booter.

If you have the /boot/grub/ directory then you are using GRUB (Grand Unified Boot Loader) This means that you should be able to use all the grub file like grub-install,grub-reboot...

Ubuntu 9.10 was the first version to use GRUB2


Here is a script to check inside the first sector of the hard drive for what boot manager it is using:

Assuming your hard drive is at SDA then:

sudo dd if=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1 2>/dev/null | strings | grep -Eoi 'grub|lilo|acronis|reboot'

will tell you which bootloader you are using.

You can imagine the rest...
The list of boot loaders is here: and (For Debian based distros)
Also if you want to SEE the real binary output then add -a to the grep part. For example:

sudo dd if=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1 2>&1 | grep -a GRUB which will show you the data in that first block.

Now with this new information you HAVE to find the boot manager you are using.

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nops, dont have any of these. – binW Feb 2 '11 at 14:47
Updated with a small command line for you. – Luis Alvarado Feb 2 '11 at 17:25
Also try cycling through sda1, sda2 etc in case you have a rescue partition set up. – opyate Oct 27 '15 at 12:13

Use the dd command to read the boot sector, then use grep to know your bootloader:

dd if=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1 2>&1 | grep GRUB
dd if=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1 2>&1 | grep LILO
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For GRUB the command to check what version you have is:

grub-install -v

More to find here:

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You are safer checking by inquiring the version from the tools itself (than using low-level dd or other artifacts).

For example, testing for lilo:

root# lilo -V
bash: lilo: command not found

root# grub-install --version
grub-install (GRUB) 2.02~beta2-22

Of course, this will not work if you have both installed. If that is the case, to avoid confusion, uninstall the ones you don't need.

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