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Feature Request: in x86, the ability to boot an arbitrary bootable CD fr

From: Dustin Harriman
Subject: Feature Request: in x86, the ability to boot an arbitrary bootable CD from a grub boot menu
Date: Mon, 7 May 2007 08:43:28 -0700


In the x86 world there is another boot loader somewhat similar to grub
called "Smart Boot Manager":
Summary: "Smart Boot Manager (SBM) is an OS independent and
full-featured boot manager with an easy-to-use user interface.  SBM
now supports booting from CD-ROM."

SBM seems to have a killer feature that grub does not: the ability to
give a menu option to the end user at boot time to boot some bootable
CD.  In other words, when you have SBM installed in your MBR, you can
choose to boot a bootable CD, say to install Ubuntu, for example.  Can
grub do this?

I'm guessing not, as there is a tutorial on how to make a grub boot
menu entry to boot SBM to effectively allow this ability (having SBM
stored not in the MBR,
but from the root filesystem of, say, Ubuntu, much like memtest86 is done.)
Here is info on how to do that:
"GRUB/Chainloaded CD-ROM"

I think it's really important for grub to have this ability to give an
option to boot an arbitrary bootable CD, like SMB has.  Why?  Because
end users, especially newbies/novice users should not have to access
BIOS whatsoever to be able to boot from a CD.  The main "use case" of
this killer feature, IMHO, would be to help make dead-easy installing
an alternative Operating System such as Ubuntu, or some other linux or
BSD variant.

Let me elaborate on the importance of this very important "use case"
(IMHO) of this requested feature:

Virtually all PCs now come from the factory having default BIOS
settings to NOT boot from CD before hard drive (which is
super-annoying).  So if a user boots their machine with an Ubuntu CD
in the drive, the CD will not boot (until they go into their BIOS to
change the boot order).

Consider the implications of these unfortunate-for-Ubuntu (et al) circumstances:
-The special key (eg. F1, delete, etc.) one needs to press to enter
the BIOS is usually only shown when you tap Escape right at boot time.
And you're not invited to press Escape.  You just magically need to
know to press it.  Therefore the BIOS is effectively completely hidden
from most users.  This makes it really tough for novice users to learn
about the existence of the BIOS, much less get inside it.
-Most users have no idea what a BIOS is or how to access it.  And
they DO NOT want to learn.  It is too nebulous, technical, risky, and
-Of those who vaguely do know what a BIOS is, most are intimidated by
the BIOS and don't want to go in there whatsoever.
-And even if users are brave enough to go into the BIOS, it's
impossible to give specific, procedural instructions in the Ubuntu (et
al) documentation as to how to modify the boot order, since all BIOS's
have different menus and controls.  All you can do is vaguely suggest
"search for a menu called something like Boot Order", and hope for the
best (ie. that the user doesn't give up on Ubuntu (et al))

So the BIOS presents a considerable technical roadblock to installing
Ubuntu (et al) for your average novice user (who is probably
installing an Operating System of any kind for the first time).  In
fact, the BIOS is probably the single most technically complex part of
the average Ubuntu (et al) install (by far), since the BIOS is such an
ugly, text-based, poorly-documented hell hole.  Therefore it must be
"smoothed over" at all costs!  No novice user should have to go in

If and when grub gains this ability to boot an arbitrary boot CD (and
I'm just talking about x86 here, naturally), then perhaps as a next
step, someone could make a dead-simple Windows installer that puts
grub into the MBR, having two menu options: one to boot to Windows,
and one to boot from CD.  This menu option to boot from CD would make
it dead-easy for an end user to boot up an install CD for Ubuntu (et
al), allowing them to bypass the need to configure their BIOS.

Dustin Harriman

My Blog:
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"Freedom is not the capacity to do whatever we please; freedom is the
capacity to make intelligent choices"  -Francis Moore Lappé

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