I've been running a Debian derivative (LMDE) on a ZFS root for half a year now. It was created by cloning a regular ext4-based install with all the necessary packages onto a ZFS pool, chrooting into that pool and recreating a grub menu and bootloader. The system uses an ext-3 dedicated /boot partition.

I would like to do the same with Ubuntu 14.04, but have encountered several obstacles.

  • There is no Trusty zfs-grub package
  • The default grub package doesn't have ZFS support built in. I found a small bug in the build system responsible for that (report with patch created) and built my own grub packages.
  • The built-in ZFS support is dysfunctional, it does not add the proper arguments to the kernel command line
  • I thus installed the ZoL grub package I also use on my LMDE system, which does give me a correct grub.cfg

However, even with that correct grub.cfg, the boot process apparently doesn't retrieve the bootfs parameter from the ZFS pool; instead the variable that's supposed to receive the value remains empty. As a result, initrd tries to load the default pool ("rpool"), which fails of course. I can however import the pool by hand, and complete the process by hand.

If memory serves me well, I also had to disable apparmor, to avoid the boot process from blocking after importing the pool.

Am I overlooking something? Just for comparison, I installed the Ubuntu 3.13 kernel on my LMDE system, and that works just fine (i.e. the identical kernel and grub binaries allow successful booting without glitches on LMDE but not on Ubuntu).

edit: grub bug reports:



  • Ahoy! Hate to do it this way, and it's been a few years, but I'm curious about your LMDE experience overall, as well as running ZoL on LMDE (and Ubuntu). Seems like you switched away from LMDE to Ubuntu, did you ever go back? And what made you switch away from it? I'm a long-time LM user considering LMDE3 on a ZoL root partition and there's not much out there from people that have done it. – L0j1k Dec 24 '18 at 18:38
  • Honestly, I cannot really remember but I wanted a KDE desktop that was being kept more up-to-date. At the time Kubuntu seemed like the obvious choice, plus it's Ubuntu, not something based on Ubuntu with not-always-so-happy tweaks (grub or initramfs related IIRC). I also think I had managed to turn my LMDE install into something franken-like so it was easier to install a new distro than to repair and update the existing. That's probably what I'm going to do whenever I can no longer put off upgrading from 14.04 ... – RJVB Dec 25 '18 at 8:32

These instructions are quite thorough:


  • 1
    At the time I asked this question, it was thorough but out of date. Quite a bit of discussion with various ZoL people I came to a solution which is (or is based on) the outline above. That is, my grub and zfs-initramfs packages are based on the ones for Debian and marked hold. I still have to go in and edit grub.cfg to remove a trailing slash from the pool name but it works so I have little incentive to go in experiment. – RJVB Oct 31 '14 at 9:16
  • Note that nowadays the ZFS git repo contains an initramfs implementation, plus code for creating the zfs-dkms package. I haven't tested either yet; the versions I'm using still work and they're too central to upgrade just for upgrading's sake. – RJVB Dec 25 '18 at 8:36

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