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How to Install EXTlinux


I must say, I am somewhat anti-GRUB. With it's configuration files, it's learning curve is above most other boot managers I've used and so prefer not to use it. Instead I'll show you how to use EXTlinux, a derivative of SYSlinux that works with EXT partitions. Extlinux does not mess with your MBR (unless you want to), instead it installs itself on the VBR, i.e the bootsector of the partition. Syslinux/Extlinux has a reputation of being a very reliable boot.

1. Install extlinux with Synaptic Pacakge Manager, OR you can type in a terminal;
 
sudo bash <enter your password>
apt-get install extlinux
 
2. Write a configuration file inside /boot/extlinux/
cd /boot/extlinux
leafpad extlinux.conf
#add these lines below

DEFAULT linux
LABEL linux
  SAY Now booting the kernel using EXTLINUX...
  KERNEL /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-35-generic
  APPEND ro root=UUID=5af0dcb0-e5c3-4956-80b0-aa3c36c044bf initrd=/boot/initrd.img-3.2.0-35-generic


    Replace UUID=<your usb_stick's_uuid>
The uuid uniquely identifies your usb stick device, you can find it by the command;
blkid
or
ls -l /dev/disk/by-uuid

    Replace 3.2.0-35 with your kernel's version number for vmlinuz and initrd.img
You can find this by looking in the /boot directory;
ls /boot

3. Update the VBR with extlinux
cd /boot/extlinux
extlinux -i .
     don't forget the "."    This command will update the VBR using extlinux.conf in the current directory.


   You can now reboot.

The beauty of this system is a reliable boot with a simple setup. If you choose to copy your whole system to another stick or harddisk, you just have to change the UUID and issue another "extlinux -i ."  . (and also change your fstab !).

Notes:
Extlinux itself does offer an auto-installation command (extlinux-install), however it does generate more complicated files and uses menus but more importantly I found the boot less reliable).
If you need an MBR boot manager, I would recommend Ranish.

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