Practice: Boot managers

Exercises for setting up your Linux system and software

Changing the boot manager configuration lets you boot into different operating systems or different versions of the same operating system. This article offers hands-on practice to build your proficiency in making practical changes in your boot manager's configuration. The exercises and solutions in this article focus on adding a kernel to an existing GRUB configuration and interact with GRUB at boot time.


Roderick W. Smith, Consultant and author

Roderick Smith author photoRoderick W. Smith is a consultant and author of over a dozen books on UNIX and Linux, including The Definitive Guide to Samba 3, Linux in a Windows World, and Linux Professional Institute Certification Study Guide. He is also the author of the GPT fdisk partitioning software. He currently resides in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

21 June 2011

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About this article

These exercises and solutions supplement the developerWorks article Learn Linux, 101: Boot managers," which is part of the developerWorks knowledge path "Basics of Linux system administration: Setting up your system and software." You may want to read the "Boot managers" article before working through these exercises.


These exercises give you practice in:

  • Adding a kernel to an existing GNU GRand Unified Bootloader (GRUB) configuration
  • Making one-time changes to a GRUB entry at boot time


You must have the GRUB Legacy boot loader installed. And you should have a working knowledge of basic Linux command-line tools as well as knowledge of at least one text editor; you'll use the text editor to make changes to system configuration files.

Exercise 1. Add a new kernel to a GRUB configuration

Imagine that you've made some modifications to the Linux kernel for a new application your company is developing. You want be able to run this test kernel on your development machine without replacing the kernel you use for production work. Practice editing a GRUB configuration to boot a new kernel by:

  1. Renaming or moving an existing kernel
  2. Creating an entry that references this new entry

Exercise 2. Modify GRUB options at boot time

Say you want to try out your new kernel using different kernel options, but you don't want to have to re-edit grub.conf every time you make a change. Not a problem. Experiment with GRUB's ability to accept changes to boot options at boot time, such as:

  • Entering single-user mode
  • Correcting typos in an entry
  • Changing the Linux root partition

Exercise solutions

Follow these solution steps to check your work.



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