GRUB 2 has three main parts:

  • /etc/default/grub - the file containing GRUB 2 menu settings.
  • /etc/grub.d/ - the directory containing GRUB 2 menu creating scripts.
  • /boot/grub/grub.cfg - the GRUB 2 configuration file, not editable.

As mentioned, grub.cfg shouldn't be edited as it's automatically built. RedHat recommended to use grubby for configuration

  • grubby –default-kernel - lists the default kernel
  • grubby –default-index - lists the default index
  • grubby –info=ALL - list all kernel menu entries

To make changes, the format is

grubby --remove-args="argX argY" --args="argA argB" --update-kernel /boot/kernel

Scripts in /etc/grub.d examine the system and build the boot menu dependent on what is found automatically when the kernel is updated or a new one installed

NOTE: If GRUB_TIMEOUT is set to 0, no boot menu is displayed. To display it, press and hold any alphanumeric key when the BIOS info is displayed

/etc/default/grub specifies the default kernel which is usually saved:

ip-10-51-72-53:root> #cat /etc/default/grub
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="crashkernel=auto rhgb quiet audit=1 console=ttyS0"

This points to the entry in /boot/grub2/grubenv with the saved_entries directive. This will be the latest installed kernel. You can change this using grub2-set-default e.g.

grub2-set-default 2

This will select the third “menuentry” line in grub.cfg ( remembering the first menu entry is 0 ). You can edit /etc/default/grub with this entry to make it a permanent. This will require a rebuild of grub.cfg

grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

To add custom menu entries use /etc/grub.d/40_custom and add your script in there. This is the general format of an entry

 #!/bin/sh -e
 echo "Some string"
 cat << EOF
 menuentry "Something" {
 set root=(hdX,Y)
 -- boot parameters --

If grub breaks for some reason it can be reinstalled e.g.

 grub2-install /dev/sda (assuming /boot is on /dev/sda)

To reset and reinstall (this clears all grub settings and configs)

 1. rm /etc/grub.d/*
 2. rm /etc/sysconfig/grub
 3. grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg
 4. grub2-install /dev/sda

NOTE: The procedure for EFI based servers is slightly different so don't forget to RTFM!!

To use the serial interface for grub boots

 grubby --remove-args="rhgb quiet" --args=console=ttyS0,115200 --update-kernel=DEFAULT

This is just for the default kernel, you can also specify –update-kernel=ALL or a comma seperated list of kerne index numbers

If a new grub.cfg file is going to get built, update /etc/default/grub

 GRUB_SERIAL_COMMAND="serial --speed=9600 --unit=0 --word=8 --parity=no --stop=1"

(adjust the serial settings according to your hardware)

then rebuild using grub2-mkconfig command

To boot into rescue mode, at the GRUB 2 boot screen, press e (for edit) and add the following to the linux16 line

CTRL-a goes to start of line, CTRL-e to the end. Press CTRL-x to boot with the new parameter

To go to emergency add instead. For a debug shell add systemd.debug-shell

For more information about grub recovery see our article grub recovery

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