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Thursday, February 10, 2011

How To Customize The GRUB Boot Loader Using BURG [Ubuntu]

grub boot loaderAre you setting up your computer to dual-boot between two operating systems (or more)?  If so, you must be familiar with the boot loader. This tool enables users to choose which operating system he/she wants to log into. The boot loader that comes with the Ubuntu installation is called GRUB.
As useful as it is, the GRUB boot loader is not the prettiest girl in town. The interface is only as beautiful as a text-based interface can be. Even though some people can live with it just fine, some others wish they could beautify the look a little bit.
If you don’t mind meddling with command lines, you can apply some eye candy (and more functionalities) to GRUB with the help of BURG.

Playing Between The Lines

According to the explanation in the Community Ubuntu Documentation:
BURG stands for Brand-new Universal loadeR from GRUB. It’s based on GRUB and adds features like new object format and configurable menu system.
To add BURG from within your Ubuntu installation, you have to use command lines. But worry not, young Jedi! It’s not as scary as it sounds. As long as you follow everything to the letter – no pun intended – you should be just fine.
But before we begin, let’s look at the original boot loader text-based interface that we are trying to change.
grub boot loader
The first step you should do is to log into your Ubuntu installation. Then open “Terminal” to execute all the command lines needed to download, install, and configure BURG. You can find Terminal inside “Applications – Accessories“, or you can also use the search function to find it.

grub loader
By default, BURG is not included in Ubuntu’s standard repository. So you should add the server that hosts BURG files to the repository by executing this command line:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bean123ch/burg
To avoid mistyping, it’s easier to copy and paste that line to Terminal, and press Enter to execute it.
grub loader
Then you should download and install BURG (loader, themes and emulator). Use this command to do that:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install burg
grub loader
The process could take a while, depending on the speed of your internet connection. It’s essential that you use a stable connection to get the best result. From my experiments, I found out that an unstable connection will cause download problems: some of the components might not download completely, and the installation process will fail.

Configuring BURG

After we finish the download and installation process, the next step is to configure BURG. The Terminal will display something like this:
install grub loader
Press Enter to go to the next screen, and another Enter to skip again.
install grub loader
You will arrive at this “Configuring burg-pc” screen. This one is a little tricky because hitting Enter will not bring you anywhere. After several trial and errors, I found out that you have to select the “OK” option by using the right arrow key on the keyboard or by pressing tab, then after the “OK” is selected, you can press Enter to continue.
install grub loader
The following screen will ask you to choose which device is the “GRUB install device“. If your computer has only one hard drive, you will only see one device. The problem is, how to select it? To avoid accidentally skipping this configuration, press Space to select the device before pressing Enter.
03d Install Device Choose.jpg

Navigating BURG

The configuration is now done. You can restart your system and the GRUB boot loader menu will be replaced by BURG.
Navigating within BURG is easy: use the arrow keys on the keyboard to choose the operating system and Enter to load it.
You can also switch between themes easily by pressing F2 to bring up the list of available themes, move between the items with arrow keys, and hit Enter to choose one. Here are some examples of available themes.
06 Burg Themes.jpg
Other Function keys that you can use are F1 for Help and F3 to change screen resolution.

Installing BURG From Windows

BURG also comes with a Windows installer. You can get the installer from BURG’s download page. Using it is also very easy: install it,
05a Windows Installer.jpg
And click “Add Boot Entry” under “Programs – Burg” menu.
grub boot loader
However, I found this method to be working only if you installed Ubuntu from within Windows. So for those who installed Ubuntu alongside Windows, you have to stick with the command lines.
To be honest, I’m a total newbie when it comes to Ubuntu (Linux) and command lines. I had to repeat the experiment several times just to get it (almost) right, and I’m still trying to grasp everything that I’ve done and described here. So, if you Linux experts out there have found things that I missed here, please do not hesitate to share your input in the comments below.

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