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chained grub2 derivative bootauto system

From: ivo welch
Subject: chained grub2 derivative bootauto system
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2012 14:20:22 -0700

dear grub2 developers:

I have wrestled often with the problems of setting up grub2 on new systems.   I know booting is a low-level science in itself, so I don't dare to pretend that I know anything.  but I wanted to put up a small starting bounty of $500 for a grub2 derivative  type of boot loader, to be made available GPL, of course, in the main linux distributions (such as ubuntu) if one knowledgeable developer finds this interesting.

from the user perspective, this booting system should work as follows:

if the user holds any key during the boot process, the new "B" loader (call it bootauto.bin) would scan all available partitions for bootable systems (such as Windows, linux, freebsd, etc.) and all root partitions for *.iso files, and present the user with a list of what it found where, and put the default selection line on the OS that was most recently booted.  the user should be able to select one of these, and then proceed booting from them.  the user presumably could also enter command line options at this stage, choose a common option (such as "rescue", "single user", or "single user read-only"), or possibly see all kernels, including older ones.  bootauto.bin obviously needs a whole lot more intelligence at boot time than what grub2 has.

if the user does not hold down a key, then bootauto.bin would boot whatever it booted last, without delay.

the setup is similar to an OSX boot, where holding down an "ALT" key presents all bootable OS's that are found.

there would be no more grub configuration files, grub-install commands, etc.  bootauto.bin would do it all.  bootauto.bin would presumably always reside in a fixed spot, such as /bootauto.bin, and all that the boot sector would have to do would be to find it and pass control to it.

from a user perspective, creating live USB flash sticks with multiple OS's, or booting from another hard disk now becomes much simpler.  end users only need to connect the bootable device or connect USB stick with a couple of ISOs on them, and it just works.

the system-wide first-time installation of the bootloader would consist of one command that copies the bootauto.bin file to a designated partition and writes the bootsector.  "bootauto-install /dev/sda /mnt/sda1" would install the boot sector on /dev/sda that chain loads the B loader bootauto.bin on mnt/sda1/bootauto.bin (whatever file system /mnt/sda1/ uses; could be ntfs, ext4, etc).  the only error should be that /mnt/sda1 cannot be written.  no mysterious chroots, no --binds, no uuid's, no grub configuration file consultation.  no problems if disks get rearranged on the next boot. simple.

it doesn't have to work on legacy systems more than 5 years old, either.  this is to move forward. /bootauto.bin can be big.

if interested, send me a personal email, please.  I will pay upon completion (or put it into an escrow account at the FSF or another reasonable place).  maybe some others will supplement the funding---I know that $500 won't pay for it all.  I just wanted to start the ball rolling, and put my money where my mouth is.


Ivo Welch (address@hidden)

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