Rescuing GRUB2 from rescue mode in Fedora 30

About 3 months back I installed the newly released Fedora 30 OS – dual boot with Windows 10 in my PC. This blog post comes from the notes I made during that time and as I troubleshooting note for future.

I had Fedora 29 and Windows 10 dual boot in my PC before that. The Fedora install partition was running out of space due to low disk space selected during my last install so I decided to do a clean reinstall this time. I made a live usb using the Fedora media writer for windows and the Fedora 30 iso available at getfedora download page. I followed the usual steps that I followed for installing earlier Linux installations in my PC, similar to what mentioned in this video.

The installation went fine and finally I was ready to boot from my hard drive. Then I saw what is called the Dreaded GRUB2 boot prompt.

error: unknown filesystem.
Entering rescue mode...
grub rescue>

First Attempt for Fix

I quickly started finding way to fix the grub. The first thing I found was the steps listed in this video. I had to choose the right partition from which the bootloader would load.

grub rescue> ls
(hd0) (hd0,msdos4) (hd0,msdos3) (hd0,msdos2) (hd0,msdos1)

This shows the various partitions in my hard drive. One of this is the linux partition where my Fedora 30 OS is installed. I need to list all the partitions and one of them will have the linux filesystem.

grub rescue> ls (hd0, msdos4)/
bin/  boot/  dev/  etc/  home/  lib/  lib64/  lost+found/  media/  mnt/  opt/  proc/  root/  run/  sbin/  srv/  sys/  tmp/  usr/  var/

Now I ran the following commands and waited for the system to boot up

grub rescue> set prefix=(hd0, msdos4)/boot/grub2
grub rescue> insmod normal
grub rescue> normal

I got the same grub rescue boot prompt but this time with a different error

error: file '/boot/grub2/i386-pc/normal.mod' not found.
Entering rescue mode…
grub rescue>

Second Attempt ..

The issue was that, the i386-pc folder was missing in the /boot/grub2 folder. The fix that I found for the issue was related to grub2 not being properly installed at the boot location. Luckily I was able to boot Fedora from UEFI Boot option from the Boot Menu. I logged into Fedora and reinstalled grub2.

$ sudo grub2-install /dev/sda
$ dnf install grub2-efi

I hoped that this would fix the issue, but it again came down to the same starting point loading the grub2 rescue prompt.

Third time is the charm !

I further searched and landed up in the fedora grub2 manual . After reading it I realized there is something wrong in my grub2 configuration. I booted into my OS using UEFI boot and opened /boot/grub2/grub.cfg file. The entry for Windows was missing. I followed the steps given in this section. I went to the grub rescue prompt and fired the following commands

grub rescue> set root=(hd0, msdos4)
grub rescue> linux /boot/vmlinuz-5.1.20-300.fc30.x86_64 root=/dev/sda4
grub rescue> initrd /boot/initramfs-5.1.20-300.fc30.x86_64.img
grub rescue> boot

Then I recreated the grub.cfg file using these commands

$ grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg
$ grub2-install --boot-directory=/boot /dev/sda

Voila ! I was able to see the grub menu with all the boot entries.

Postmortem Report

So why did the issue actually occur ? It didn’t happend in the past whenever I did a fresh installation nor it’s a issue specific to Fedora 30. I tried to dig the actual cause of the issue and after a little finding and introspection I came to this conclusion.

Using the Fedora media writer was in fact the place where I unknowingly did a mistake. I usually used UNetbootin for creating my linux live usb in past which made the images to boot in BIOS only mode. The Fedora media writer enables to boot in both UEFI and BIOS mode. My Windows installation boots via Legacy boot and it has always been like that and since I have been using UNetbootin earlier, it always picked up Boot via BIOS for the live images. This time while creating the Fedora 30 image using Fedora Media writer the default boot mode picked up was UEFI and that created a EFI GRUB2 configuration. Now when I booted the live usb I just booted from the “Boot from USB” option without noticing whether it was UEFI or BIOS  and I went ahead and did Fedora 30 installation. Now my default boot option was Legacy Boot (since it supports the Windows boot) while the installed Fedora OS grub loader was created to boot in EFI mode. That in turn caused this problem due to a corrupted grub2 configuration.

Moral of this Story

Always be careful while created OS images. Check how it is supposed to boot. In case of dual boots all the OS must boot via the same mode – either both UEFI or both BIOS. So make sure when you are doing a clean install of the second OS it must boot via same mode as the already installed OS.

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