Mike Sampson

Linux Systems Administrator




18 Jul 2010


I had been thinking about switching from grub to grub2 on my main workstation for a while now. Grub did everything I required however I felt like trying something new. Recently one of the Arch Linux devs mentioned extlinux on one of the Arch Linux mailing lists as an alternative to the more well known grub and lilo.

I was vaguely aware of extlinux as it is part of the syslinux bundle developed by H. Peter Anvin and I have used pxelinux in the past. After reading up on extlinux I decided to give it a go. Install was a breeze with the syslinux wiki giving instructions that covered my RAID setup that would allow the system to boot regardless of which disks were present in the case of a disk failure. The config file uses a slightly different format to grub. The following is what I am currently using:

[mike@mercury|~] $ cat /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf 
ui vesamenu.c32
timeout 100

menu title Mercury Boot Menu

label 1
    menu label Arch Linux
    kernel /vmlinuz26
    append initrd=/kernel26.img root=/dev/mapper/vg0-root ro vga=0x307

label 2
    menu label Arch Linux Fallback
    kernel /vmlinuz26
    append initrd=/kernel26-fallback.img root=/dev/mapper/vg0-root ro vga=0x307

This gives me a VGA resolution boot menu with support for customizable colors and background images though I have not made use of these features yet.

While looking into extlinux I came across a Google Tech Talk by Marty Connor, H. Peter Anvin and Michael Brown. It mainly covers networking booting though it is very entertaining being mostly freeform.

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