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I am experiencing install hell trying to add an installation of Ubuntu 12.10 and Scientific Linux 6.3 to an old machine (BIOS not EFI) with Debian Squeeze and Linux Mint 10. The installs seem to go OK but when rebooting grub either refuses to boot completely (I had to reinstall grub) or complain that the uuid of both Ubuntu and Scientific Linux are invalid. Most of the time Debian Squeeze and Linux Mint 10 boot OK.

One of the hard drives is a 3TB hard drive formatted using GUID/GPT. It is the one that gets grub on it's MBR.

Is it possible to force grub NOT to use uuids. This way even if it is corrupted I stand a chance of repairing the install manually or at least booting manually with some difficulty?

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Yes. To do that you need to edit /etc/default/grub (root permission required). There you should find a commented line like this:

#GRUB_DISABLE_LINUX_UUID=true

Uncomment it out, save the file and execute:

sudo update-grub2

Please note that the location of this file can be Ubuntu/Debian specific, but as you seem to be using Debian or Mint to configure Grub it should be ok.

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