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Moving /boot partition to another partition


Linux Disk Partitioning

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Sometimes there is a need to relocate /boot partition. For example /boot partition can be too small. There are two ways to solve this problem.

On laptop, desktops and workstations often the simplest way is to create images of existing partitions by booting from live CD and then using Ghost-like tool (Partimage, Acronis True Image, etc) to same images of partitions one by one. After that the drive can be repartitions and all partitions restored. For servers tape backup is the way to do.

For more complex approaches see System Imager manual-4.1.6.

Here we assume that you have new partition to use. Here are steps that are necessary to accomplish the move

  1. Mount new partition as /newboot.
  2. Copy your files from your old /boot directory to your /newboot. This includes all the kernels, initrd files and (very important) the grub folder and its contents. For example:
    • cp -dpR /boot/* /newboot
    • cp -a /boot/* /newboot
  3. Edit the menu.1st file in your grub directory in /newboot. You will have to change the root (hd0,0) lines for each kernel to point to the new location, perhaps root (hd0,2). You may also have a line near the top: gfxmenu (hd0,0)/message which will also need updated. (The next step clarifies the numbering scheme used.)
  4. Correct /etc/fstab so that it pointed to a new /boot partition (it is usually recognized by UUID)
  5. Unmount /boot and /newboot and issue mount command to see if this new partition is correctly mounted.
  6. Correct /etc/grub.conf so that it point to correct partition
  7. Point grub to the new partition. That can be done several ways
    • Reinstall grub
    • Reboot the box and on grub promot issue commands that will set up grub to use the new /boot partition when booting. This is normally done by reconfiguring grub so using the grub command interface. In my case:
    • # grub
      grub> root (hd0,2)
      grub> setup (hd0)
      grub> quit
      # reboot

    Here we are telling grub that my new grub root (NOT system root) is (hd0,2). Grub numbering starts at zero, so this in fact is telling it /hda3 (First drive, third partition). The setup command then installs the boot code into the MBR which will now look to the new /boot partition. (This points grub “stage one” that runs at boot to the location containing the files in the /grub directory (grub “stage 2″.)

  8. Copy the whole boot partition and content of /etc directory to the another computer and/or Flash drive so that you have reference in case of problems.
  9. Cross your fingers and reboot the computer.
  10. If the server/workstation does not boot DON’T PANIC.
    1. If you see grub prompt that's already considerable level of success. Now you can try to boot manually and then understand what setting were incorrect. Note that grub allows for tab completion on filenames in commands, so it is usually not difficult to get up and running again. Grub has a powerful built in environment available at the grub> prompt. If you get stuck on this step, these links might help you to sort things out: To boot manually you need to issue three commands:
      • root(hdx,y) command
      • kernel=vmlinuz-2.6....
      • initrd=initrd-2.6....
  11. If this does not help try to read additional literature that might provide useful advice. See Recommended links
  12. Lastly, if you get hopelessly stuck and can’t boot your system you can still boot rescue CD/DVD and try grub from it. Also you can try Super Grub2 Disk. This tool has a menu driven system to help recover from a variety of boot / grub / MBR related problems.

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