error: file '/grub/i386-pc/normal.mod' not found.
grub rescue>

What can I do? I just sit and stare at it.

I found my old netbook (Dell Inspiron 1010) which I have not used for about four years. I replaced Windows XP with Ubuntu 12.10. I used my bootable USB drive. I installed and rebooted. I got the message that normal.mod is not found.

What should I do? Type exit, reboot, or quit? Should I re-install?

  • 1
    THE ANSWER BELOW NEVER WORKS. THIS DOES WORK: re-install your OS, go to "do something else", create your partition tables, then use your windows partition as your primary boot device. That last step is essential. DO NOT USE /boot. There might be another solution: try manually changing your boot device during startup; however, I don't think that will work. This is a long-standing problem that has persisted in Ubuntu up-to and including 17.10. Thank you. – Wolfpack'08 Nov 8 '17 at 5:20
  • None of these instructions worked for me. In fact, using the various recovery tools made the problem worse. I was able to get grub sort of reinstalled but because I use lvm2, the kernel failed to start. If you are using lvm2 for anything, then when this problem happens, you will have to reinstall the OS. As far as I can tell, there is no recovery from a failed kernel update + grub + lvm2 combination. lvm2 sees very little official support despite being pushed for Ubuntu Server LTS at one point. I'm backing up my data and reinstalling the OS and won't touch lvm2 again. Learned my lesson. – CubicleSoft Feb 23 '18 at 1:33
  • @CubicleSoft Yes, such a situation is recoverable, see my answer. – Skippy le Grand Gourou Jan 20 at 19:02
  • I already switched away from lvm2 and have had zero issues since. None of my infrastructure uses it anymore. The default system rescue solutions (both graphical and CLI) are unaware or only barely aware of LVM and that is sufficient reason for me to not use LVM. Even if I followed your directions to recover the system and they worked, the problem would probably happen again in the future. Reinstalling the OS and ditching LVM was the best and fastest option for me. – CubicleSoft Jan 28 at 14:47
  • @Wolfpack in my case the problem is that without normal.mod set prevent me to possibly reinstall ubuntu, the lgoin does nt works. What can I do? – HoCo_ Feb 27 at 9:03

Grub has a small core image that is loaded at boot time. The core image dynamically loads modules which provide further functionality. i386-pc/normal.mod not found indicates that grub can not load normal.mod, which is a grub module that provides the normal command. To load normal.mod you need to tell grub where it is. To do this you can use the grub command-line (aka Rescue Console). Grub will start the command-line if there is a problem booting, or you can start it manually by holding the shift key as grub starts (to force show the grub menu), and then pressing the 'c' key.

Using grub you can explore the drives, partitions, and filesystems. You need to:

  • locate the grub install using ls or search.file
  • set grub variables $prefix and $root
  • load and run the normal module


The following is just an example. You will need to adapt it to your local drive and partition setup.

where is normal.mod? look in some likely locations

grub> search.file /i386-pc/normal.mod
error: no such device: /i386-pc/normal.mod

grub> search.file /grub/i386-pc/normal.mod
error: no such device: /grub/i386-pc/normal.mod

grub> search.file /boot/grub/i386-pc/normal.mod

If you get "Unknown command 'search.file'" this means that the search.file command is not available. This is probably because you are at the grub rescue> prompt and not grub> prompt. In this case you can still carry on and use the ls command and your knowledge of your partition layout to find normal.mod.

found it at (hd0,msdos1)

grub> ls (hd0,msdos1)/boot/grub/i386-pc/normal.mod

why did grub not find it?
check $prefix - absolute location of the grub directory
(this is set when grub is installed by grub-install)

grub> echo $prefix

check $root - default device for paths that do not include a device
grub initially sets this to the device from $prefix

grub> echo $root

root and prefix are pointing to the wrong partition (hd0,msdos2)
set $root and $prefix to the partition where we found normal.mod (hd0,msdos1)

grub> set root=(hd0,msdos1)
grub> set prefix=(hd0,msdos1)/boot/grub

load and run normal module

grub> insmod normal
grub> normal

Some other commands that may be helpful

ls list all devices and partitions

grub> ls
(hd0) (hd0,msdos5) (hd0,msdos1)

ls partition

grub> ls (hd0,msdos1)
        Partition hd0,msdos1: Filesystem type ext* - Last modification time
2014-05-08 15:56:38 Thursday, UUID c864cbdd-a2ba-43a4-83a3-66e305adb1b6 -
Partition start at 1024KiB - Total size 6290432Kib

ls filesystem (note / at end)

grub> ls (hd0,msdos1)/
lost+found/ etc/ media/ bin/ boot/ dev/ home/ lib/ lib64/ mnt/ opt/ proc/
root/ run/ sbin/ srv/ sys/ tmp/ usr/ var/ vmlinuz initrd.img cdrom/

look inside /boot/grub
presence of i386-pc directory means this is a BIOS install
presence of x86_64-efi directory would indicate an EFI install

grub> ls (hd0,msdos1)/boot/grub
i386-pc/ locale/ fonts/ grubenv grub.cfg

  • +1 After following these steps to boot into my ubuntu installation I ran sudo grub-install /dev/sdX to install my grub. I think the LVM install confused my grub somehow. – DavidG Sep 19 '14 at 3:39
  • I guess if you get "Unknown command 'search-file' like I just did, it is time to give up. My advice to folks is never install Ubuntu without a Windows Recovery DVD. As I just found out, having a recovery partition is not enough once Grub gets messed up. And also, never install Ubuntu on someone else's Windows computer, because if it messes up they will be really pissed. – Scooter Oct 28 '14 at 1:46
  • @Scooter See this answer for instructions on reinstalling Grub by booting a live CD/USB. – bain Oct 28 '14 at 11:34
  • @bain Thanks for the reply. In my case did a reinstall from the Ubuntu iso disk. Ubuntu figured out that grub was messed up or maybe it just automatically writes over it, but it redid it to where I was back to being able to boot into Windows again. – Scooter Oct 28 '14 at 12:27
  • The Grub rescue shell doesn't appear to support any of these commands. "Unknown command 'search.file'" – Cerin Apr 12 '15 at 19:58

Solved this on a machine this afternoon. It seems that one cause of this problem is the installer thinking that you have EFI secure boot, when you don't and therefore loading the incorrect GRUB files.

What you need to do is install GRUB 2. To do this you need to boot to the live instance, mount your root partition and install.

From a live instance, find the partition on which your root partition is loaded. GParted will tell you this, or you could use

sudo fdisk -l

Go for the partition in which ubuntu is installed.

Once you have your partition you need to mount it. Assuming the root partition is on /dev/sda5, that'd be:

sudo mount /dev/sda5 /mnt

Then install GRUB 2

sudo grub-install /dev/sda --root-directory=/mnt [use copy and paste for this one as there are some spaces that you need to get right.]

Assuming this is your problem, then you should just be able to reboot and everything will work fine.

Original solution for this was from here: http://ubuntujournal.blogspot.com/2012/11/fix-new-install-of-ubuntu-1210-wont-boot.html

  • 1
    Didn't work for me. I have the same problem and I'm still looking for a solution. – ExpatEgghead Nov 7 '13 at 12:58
  • 3
    --root-directory is now --boot-directory in grub2 – bain May 8 '14 at 15:32
  • 1
    Another easy fix that worked for me is to copy the grup backup located in /etc/grub.d/backup to /boot/grub. Check the attached readme for appropriate folders and paths. – jhexp Jul 17 '15 at 17:27
  • This worked for me! Thank you oh thank you! – enchance Dec 31 '16 at 16:50
  • In my case the problem was I have 2 hard drives and the bios sequence was looking on the wrong drive first. That drive had an old corrupted grub installation. – eusoubrasileiro May 7 '17 at 20:58

I didn't find that information on forums, so I want to share some information despite the fact that this question was asked a long time ago:

If you have a large (e.g. 1TB) partition with Ubuntu installed and you didn't allocate additional one for /boot/, it could be the reason of such errors. When GRUB starts, it uses biosdisk driver for reading normal drivers from the /boot/grub/ directory. Sometimes, this directory could be physically located on the hard drive somewhere after the maximum supported by biosdisk sector. The issue could appear, for example, after system upgrade. Also, I am always face that issue after fresh installation Ubuntu 13.10, but it could differ, as it depends on motherboard/bios.

You can check that using grub recovery - after setting correct PREFIX and ROOT, try to ls /boot - if you don't see anything, but can see files there when booting from live cd/flash drive - than you have the issue described above.

You can do different things to make system bootable, but the only way to avoid that issue in future (during dist-upgrades) is to put /boot directory on a separate small partition.


Other solutions may not work if you get to the grub-rescue prompt and/or your configuration uses LVM, this one should.

Boot on a rescue disk (tip : I keep a small distribution on a dedicated partition of my backup USB disk).

If you use LVM, find the name of your volume group with lvdisplay or another LVM-related commands. Activate it (otherwise you'll get a mount: special drive /dev/volumegroupname/partition does not exist error when trying to mount) :

vgchange -a y volumegroupname

Now mount your usual / partition, e.g. on /mnt :

mount /dev/volumegroupname/partition /mnt

Mount a few special devices as well (as well as /boot if on a separate partition) :

mount -t proc none /mnt/proc
mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev
mount -t sysfs /sys /mnt/sys

Then chroot into your usual distribution :

chroot /mnt


Finally, reinstall GRUB2 — commands may vary depending on your distribution, this works on Slackware (if your drive is /dev/sda) :

grub-install /dev/sda
grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

Reboot and you should be done.

protected by Community Jan 22 '14 at 18:45

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