Re-establishing boot process from MBR

randhir phagura rsphagura at
Sat Sep 20 23:44:42 PDT 2008

Wolfgang wrote on Sat, 20 Sep 2008

>Hi Randhir

>very interesting info. But if you install often or sometimes Windows I 
>prefer to create the partitions on Linux and then save the MBR in a file 
>with the dd command e.g.
>TS=`date +%Y%m%d`
>dd if=/dev/hda of=/boot/mbr_$TS bs=512 count=1
>This can be done on a regular basis e.g. as a cron job.
>Then you can easily restore your MBR with dd as well e.g.
>dd if=/boot/mbr_... of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1

Hi Wolfgang,

That is a smart one. It can, probably, be done from within a linux system after it boots. But once the MBR is gone, booting into linux is not possible.


Randhir Phagura

>randhir phagura wrote:
>>                                                   Howto: Re-establishing boot process from MBR
>>                                                  ==================================
>>In a multi-OS boot system, booting is done from MBR with Grub or such a boot-loader. In case the MBR is corrupted or over-written>>because of any reason, such as re-installing Windows, the booting through Grub can be restored from MBR, without need to>>re-install Linux.
>>1. Download an LFS live DVD image from, and burn the iso image onto a DVD. (This is a very handy>>tool and, hence, should always be available). If it is not with you presently, use your windows or other installation to download and>>burn. Boot from the live  LFS DVD.
>>2. Type the command 'net-setup' and setup your internet and download or read online the LFS Book. Open with lynx for reference,>>if needed.
>>3. Give the following commands in succession: (These commands are from the LFS book - only selected here for the limited job to>>be done)
>>	export LFS=/mnt/lfs
>> 	mount -v -t ext3 /dev/ $LFS                       (where  is the partition on which your linux exists that you wish to boot.)
>> 	/sbin/swapon -v /dev/                                (where  is the swap partition on your hard disk.)
>> 	mount -v --bind /dev $LFS/dev                            (mounting and populating /dev)
>> 	mount -vt devpts devpts $LFS/dev/pts                 (mounting virtual kernel File System)
>> 	mount -vt tmpfs shm $LFS/dev/shm
>> 	mount -vt proc proc $LFS/proc
>> 	mount -vt sysfs sysfs $LFS/sys
>> 	chroot "$LFS" $LFS                                            (entering the chroot environment - this command will show root prompt on 
>>                                                                             partition that was mounted above. Check and ensure that it is the right one.)
>> 	/bin/bash --login +h                                           (shall bring back the same prompt as above but with its environment)
>> 4. Installing Grub on to MBR: Give following commands:
>>   	grub                                                               (Note that grub does not recognize scaci drives etc. For it everything is 'hd'. So
>>                                                                             if you have drive such as 'sda', for grub it shall remain as 'hd0' only)
>>      root (hdx,z)                                                   (Where 'x' is the number of the drive starting at zero and 'z' is the number of
>>                                                                             linux partition on that drive, also starting with zero.)
>> 	setup hdx                                                        (If you had a working system before the mishap and you already had the 
>>                                                                              'stage1' and 'stage2' in place, grub will show success.)
>> 5. Unmount the various virtual kernel file systems mounted at Step 3 above as also the $LFS partition and reboot the system.
>> 6. The system should boot normally unless something else had also gone wrong. The things can go wrong in that the splash>>screen may not be the same what you had earlier. For example, I boot from openSUSE and its splash screen is different but what I>>got after rebooting above was different and after booting with that grub menu I got kernel panic at some stage of booting. But the>>'grub' shall be available and you could give it the commands by pressing 'c' on your keyboard. Like earlier, give it the following>>commands, in succession:
>>         root (hdx,z)
>> 	kernel (hdx,z)/boot/vmlinuz         (or whatever is the kernel name in your boot partition)
>> 	initrd (hdx,z)/boot/initrd              (or the specific name of your initrd file in boot partition)
>> 	boot
>> The system should boot. After booting the system you could carryout whatever further correction you wish to do. For example in>>my case, the X refused to start. So I had to setup grub again here through 'YAST'. After that the normal booting came up with its>>normal splash etc.
>> Conclusion:
>> ---------------
>> If any such mishap ocurs, there is no need to panick. The good old LFS is there for your rescue. Needless to say that there are a>>number of other means available for rescue. Personally, however, I find this simple. I have used these steps a number of times,>>mainly because of the need to re-install windows Vista, which goes off pretty often, in my case.
>> Thought this may be of some use to the community.
>> Regards
>> Randhir Phagura

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