GRUB not working on IDE-SD adapter

Hi everybody,

I recently upgraded my old thinkpad with an SD to IDE adaptor, but after that I’ve not been able to boot manjaro on it using GRUB. I premise that being an old pc I have to use manjaro32.

The installation process works fine using the iso from OSDN, but when I reboot the machine, after the IBM boot splash screen it says “no operative system found”.
After some days of testing, I have discovered that installing arch with syslinux and debian with grub legacy works well, but GRUB won’t. Seems like GRUB overwrites the MBR partition of the SD card, making it obviously not readable during the boot.

I asked the guys from manjaro’s italian telegram group and they suggested an architect install, because of the possibility of choosing the bootloader during the installation process. Unfortunately, (I don’t know if it’s a restriction of the 32 bit version of architect) the only two choices possible are GRUB and GRUB + OS prober. I’ve tried a run with them anyways but without success.

I’ve installed manjaro32 before the adapter upgrade a few times on the mechanical drive without any issue.

I therefore have some questions:

  • Have anybody already faced a similar issue?
  • Is there a way to add Syslinux to the architect’s bootloader list and install it?
  • What can cause this problem?
  • Is there a way to just fix GRUB and make it run?

I would be very happy if there was a solution because up to now I’ve used Arch, but I really miss mom Manjaro :cry:

I don’t use manjaro32, but just try this.
Boot up using your manjaro32 install media (in bios-legacy, of course) and see if you can boot up to your installed manjaro partition.
Before doing step6, check with where your installed manjaro partition is by one of commands below

findmnt /
lsblk -f
sudo parted -l

Then issue the correct command to that of the internal drive (not SD card).

sudo grub-install /dev/(internal IDE drive)
sudo update-grub

You might want to fix your SD card after all this is done.
Good luck.
Hope it works.

Seriously, it is a very unusual type of hardware. I mean, what next, install Manjaro on magnetic band tape?:rofl:
Can you not install Grub to a different device?
Yeah, I think other available bootloaders require a UEFI system. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Category:Boot_loaders

Thanks for your reply.
Unfortunately due to the MBR overwrite the installed manjaro partition is unreachable. lsblk -f shows just the device, but none of the partitions created during the installation.
If I try the grub-install it says

> grub-install: error: failed to get canonical path of 'overlay'

You are doing it from the livecd.
I am asking you to try to boot to the installed OS itself using the link.
Can it boot to the installed OS?

Actually I discovered that is very used on very old computers for restoration purpose. Anyway I wanted to give my thinkpad a little boost, making the most of the IDE port.
The only one that works on BIOS too is syslinux that works well on the SD card, but I installed it on Arch. Is there a way to bring it in manjaro too?

1 Like

Only manually. If you follow the Arch wiki it should work on Manjaro as well.
But let @gohlip try to help you fix Grub.

Not exactly. From the live installer, provide this, please:

inxi -SCMGpuoxxxz
System:    Host: manjaro Kernel: 4.14.29-1-MANJARO i686 bits: 32 gcc: 7.3.1
           Desktop: N/A info: xfce4-panel dm: lightdm Distro: Manjaro Linux
Machine:   Device: laptop System: IBM product: 2373ZP6 v: ThinkPad T42 serial: N/A
           Mobo: IBM model: 2373ZP6 serial: N/A
           BIOS: IBM v: 1RETDRWW (3.23 ) date: 06/18/2007
           Chassis: type: 10 serial: N/A
CPU:       Single core Intel Pentium M (-UP-) 
           arch: Dothan rev.6 cache: 2048 KB
           flags: (sse sse2) bmips: 1599 speed/min/max: 800/600/1800 MHz
Graphics:  Card: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD/ATI] RV200/M7 [Mobility Radeon 7500]
           bus-ID: 01:00.0 chip-ID: 1002:4c57
           Display Server: N/A drivers: ati,radeon (unloaded: modesetting)
           tty size: 80x24
Partition: ID-1: / size: 1.2G used: 41M (4%) fs: overlay dev: /dev/overlay
           uuid: N/A
Unmounted: ID-1: /dev/sda1 size: 32.01G fs: ext4
           label: N/A uuid: 6451657e-06b6-4813-bce1-334d12695a8c
           ID-2: /dev/sdb1 size: 1.62G
           label: MJRO1717 uuid: 2018-03-22-15-13-34-00
           ID-3: /dev/sdb2 size: 0.00G fs: FAT (12 bit)
           label: MISO_EFI uuid: 5BFE-3EFF

1 Like

Ok so, I reach the grub console pressing c in the grub splash of the live usb. echo $grub_platform, fine.
Then search.file /etc/manjaro-release outputs

error: no such device: /etc/manjaro-release

The previous time I went over with configfile /boot/grub/grub.cfg and it took me to the grub splash of the live usb. I went on and I got what posted before.

Okay, then it means you do not have a working installed Manjaro OS. Sorry.

I guarantee that both using architect and the standard installer the process ends fine.
Even installing arch, following the same steps, if I install grub the whole thing ends up like this after the reboot, but if I install syslinux everything works perfect.
As I wrote in my opening post, I think in some way the grub installation overwrites the MBR partition. This way all the data written during the installation stays there, but since there is no valid MBR, it is not possible to get the disk partitions and their file systems, and then to their files.

You don’t need an mbr to show partitions if they are there.

Your ‘lsblk -f’ booted from a livecd also shows no partitions. And you still don’t need an mbr.

Perhaps you can explain further…

  1. What is this thing about SD card? Is your bootloader there? Or your OS there?
    Why is it mentioned at all? Please help us understand this.
  2. You said syslinux (and grub-legacy) will work when grub 2 will not.
    Why is that so?
  3. A ‘parted -l’ (from livecd) would be useful. (all disks - including SD card).
    Even if partitions won’t show (as you say), the device information can be useful.
    Maybe a further ‘sudo fdisk -l’ can help too.
1 Like

Ok, so

  1. The adaptor is something like this:
    s-l300
    It just connects an SD card to an IDE port, the storage is entirely committed to the card
  2. I don’t know, but I’d really like to. I’ve just posted the results of my “experiments”
  3. The SD card is 32GB. During the installation process I formatted and mounted two partitions, 2GB for swap and the remaining part for storage (ext4). Now after rebooting the machine, parted -l returns this:
Error: /dev/sda: unrecognized disk label
Model: ATA SINTECHI HighSpe (scsi)
Disk /dev/sda: 32.0GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: unknown
Disk Flags: 
Model: UFD USB Flash Drive (scsi)
Disk /dev/sdb: 15.7GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: msdos
Disk Flags: 
Number  Start   End     Size    Type     File system  Flags
 1      32.8kB  1618MB  1618MB  primary               boot
 2      1618MB  1622MB  4194kB  primary               esp

sudo fdisk -l outputs this:

Disk /dev/loop0: 62.4 MiB, 65380352 bytes, 127696 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes


Disk /dev/loop1: 197.7 MiB, 207273984 bytes, 404832 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes


Disk /dev/loop2: 816.3 MiB, 855986176 bytes, 1671848 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes


Disk /dev/loop3: 415.1 MiB, 435290112 bytes, 850176 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes


Disk /dev/sda: 29.8 GiB, 32010928128 bytes, 62521344 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes




Disk /dev/sdb: 14.6 GiB, 15699279872 bytes, 30662656 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

Device     Boot   Start     End Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/sdb1  *         64 3159627 3159564  1.5G cd unknown
/dev/sdb2       3159628 3167819    8192    4M ef EFI (FAT-12/16/32)

I can share my experience that I attempted to install Linux on SD cards and the system was only able to boot when I used an SD to USB adapter. It never worked in an SD card slot apart from the EeePC where the slot was actually a USB connection to the MB.

I fear that you will only be able to use the SD card as personal data storage not as the for the system installation. But that’s just a prediction.

Are you actually able to select the device as boot device in the BIOS?

2 Likes

Yes, because the SD in the adaptor shows up like an IDE disk, that’s the difference.
You can boot from an SD inserted into a usb adapter because your pc supports usb boot. I’ve never heard about built-in SD reader boot

1 Like

If you are sure it can pick up the disk at bios, try to set partitioning to it using gparted.
Device tab… Create Partition table … Msdos…then create some partitions.
Note it will erase all data in that disk.
Then boot livecd and see if the partitions are now shown.

If you need data in that disk and you do not want to erase them, use another SD card for this experiment.
But …that data is useless anyway if you can’t use it.

Let us know, ya.

Sure, there is nothing important in the SD now.
I’m doing a new install, just to post for comparison purpose the fdisk and parted output before rebooting the machine. As soon as it ends I’ll post it

Ok, after a new install, the outputs are like this:

> parted -l
Model: ATA SINTECHI HighSpe (scsi)
Disk /dev/sda: 32.0GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: msdos
Disk Flags: 

Number  Start   End     Size    Type     File system     Flags
 1      1049kB  2149MB  2147MB  primary  linux-swap(v1)
 2      2149MB  32.0GB  29.9GB  primary  ext4            boot


Model: UFD USB Flash Drive (scsi)
Disk /dev/sdb: 15.7GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: msdos
Disk Flags: 

Number  Start   End     Size    Type     File system  Flags
 1      32.8kB  1618MB  1618MB  primary               boot
 2      1618MB  1622MB  4194kB  primary               esp
> sudo fdisk -l
Disk /dev/loop0: 62.4 MiB, 65380352 bytes, 127696 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes

Disk /dev/loop1: 197.7 MiB, 207273984 bytes, 404832 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes

Disk /dev/loop2: 816.3 MiB, 855986176 bytes, 1671848 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes

Disk /dev/loop3: 415.1 MiB, 435290112 bytes, 850176 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes

Disk /dev/sda: 29.8 GiB, 32010928128 bytes, 62521344 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0xdefa770e

Device     Boot   Start      End  Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/sda1          2048  4196351  4194304    2G 83 Linux
/dev/sda2  *    4196352 62521343 58324992 27.8G 83 Linux

Disk /dev/sdb: 14.6 GiB, 15699279872 bytes, 30662656 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

Device     Boot   Start     End Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/sdb1  *         64 3159627 3159564  1.5G cd unknown
/dev/sdb2       3159628 3167819    8192    4M ef EFI (FAT-12/16/32)

All the partitions are kept in any situation after reboot (gparted live, fdisk, parted, other formatters on win/mac).
If I install manjaro (or arch, it doesn’t mind) but I don’t install grub, and I reboot, every single file is kept. But as soon as I install grub everything explodes.

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