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[bug #30576] grub-install doesn't work on IBM PowerPC systems.

From: Len Sorensen
Subject: [bug #30576] grub-install doesn't work on IBM PowerPC systems.
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2010 16:54:22 +0000
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                 Summary: grub-install doesn't work on IBM PowerPC systems.
                 Project: GNU GRUB
            Submitted by: lsorense
            Submitted on: Wed 28 Jul 2010 04:54:21 PM GMT
                Category: Configuration
                Severity: Major
                Priority: 5 - Normal
              Item Group: Feature Request
                  Status: None
                 Privacy: Public
             Assigned to: None
         Originator Name: 
        Originator Email: 
             Open/Closed: Open
         Discussion Lock: Any
                 Release: Bazaar - trunk
         Reproducibility: Every Time
         Planned Release: None



grub-install currently does not know how to install on an IBM PowerPC system,
even though grub2 is already capable of working on such a machine.

The requirements to boot on an IBM powerpc is:

You must have a boot partition of type 0x41 (PReP boot partition).  Partition
table can be msdos (not sure what else is supported, perhaps EFI style GPT). 
The boot partition does NOT contain any filesystem.  It is read into RAM by
the firmware raw and executed.

The firmware does not create devaliases by itself.  Grub currently only works
with aliases for disks, so the user has to create aliases using the nvalias
command for grub to be able to see any disks.  This could probably be

The grub image created by grub-mkimage must be written to the boot partition.
 'dd if=/boot/grub/grub of=/dev/sda1' works great.

Since the boot partition that loads grub does not have a filesystem, it is
not a valid prefix to use for loading other grub modules.  Grub assumes it is
so grub-mkimage has to be told the correct prefix when generating the image.

A working example setup is:
nvalias hd created in firmware for disk.
/dev/sda1 PReP boot partition (8MB, which was the smallest I could make in
the partition tool).
/dev/sda2 Linux root partition with ext4

Ideally 'grub-install /dev/sda1' copies grub files to /boot/grub/ and
generates /boot/grub/grub image with ext2 and part_msdos modules embedded, as
well as setting the prefix to '(hd0,msdos1)/grub' and sets the boot-device in
nvram to 'hd' and then writes /boot/grub/grub to /dev/sda1 using dd (or

Currently grub-install aborts if /boot/grub is not a separate partition. 
This is not required on the IBM powerpc.  It also does not set the prefix,
which is required, and it tries to set the boot-device to the disk with
partition and grub filename.  The IBM firmware can't read filesystems and
hence can't boot a file.  It only boots raw boot partitions.

My current setup actually uses two disks with md raid1 (which now works with
patches done in the last few days), and by dd'ing grub to sda1 and sdb1 I have
grub on both disks, and grub has no problem reading the other files from
(md/0)/boot/grub on my ext4 root filesystem on raid.  The only thing missing
now (with the latest patches on the mailing list applies) is for grub-install
to learn how to actually do the install itself.  Not having to create the
devaliases would be a bonus of course, but not essential.


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