4 May 2011

If you’re using Ubuntu Server 10.10 and you get the upgrade notice for 11.04 “Natty Narwhal”, you might want to hold off a bit before taking the plunge and typing “do-release-upgrade”.

It seems there is a rather severe problem with GRUB 2. If you have a RAID setup – and even if you don’t – GRUB may not load at all upon reboot, leaving you with a bricked server.

There doesn’t seem to be a fix for it. In fact, I do believe the name of the release should be changed to “Nasty Narwhal”.

Here’s the scoop.

I upgraded 2 different 10.10 servers to 11.04 without a problem. Neither of those servers had RAID, and the upgrade went off without a hitch – as usual.

Then I tried to upgrade to Natty on a server with software RAID 1, and that was a very bad idea. The upgrade hung, so I logged in via the backup SSH port that is set up during the upgrade (port 1022, usually). It appeared that 11.04 had finished installing. So, I rebooted. That’s when the fun began.

At first I thought it was just a hosed upgrade, but it turns out that others are seeing this same problem – even when rebooting after a clean install of 11.04.

There’s a relevant thread on the Ubuntu Forums called upgrade 10.10 server to 11.04 server failed?

There is also an open bug for Ubuntu on Launchpad here: Cannot boot grub after installing to LVM

If you check out the notes for the bug, the importance given is “high”. I suspect this will be raised to “oh my god the sky is falling” shortly. 11.04 was just released a few days ago.

The nice people at my hosting company where the bricked server resides informed me that they had several other customers with the same issue just yesterday, and there is no known fix for it. All attempts to repair GRUB fail, and the only option (so far) is to do a clean install of 10.10.

So, that’s what I did.

This seems to be a rather big bug in an Ubuntu Server release, and certainly not the kind of thing I have come to expect from the folks at Ubuntu HQ. I really hope that this issue is resolved long before the release of Oneiric Ocelot in October 2011!

We’ll see what happens next!

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Severe GRUB Problem in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal
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8 thoughts on “Severe GRUB Problem in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

  • 10 May 2011 at 03:15

    I have the same issue. Now sitting on my bricked server waiting for a rescue. Any help?

  • 10 May 2011 at 08:28

    Yeah, had this issue. Shame on you canonical. Back to 10.04 LTS and never upgrade before next LTS release comes.

  • 10 May 2011 at 13:19

    I use ubuntu since the 8.04 and EACH upgrades did have this problem on my server. Each time the upgrade bricked my grub. Each time I have to download the install disk. Boot it and reinstall GRUB to correct the mess left by the upgrade process.

    • 10 May 2011 at 14:25

      Yikes! Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me this time around.

  • 13 May 2011 at 14:23

    I had a hell of a hard time getting 11.04 to install on my new Samsung Series 9 laptop. I still haven’t been able to get Grub to stick, even after several reinstalls and trying out the Super Grub Disc. For me, I had to downgrade back to Ubuntu 9.10 (because I can’t get a clean install of 10.10, either), and then do a distro-upgrade from there. What a pain!

  • 26 August 2011 at 14:27

    I had the same problem migration was fine until I decide to reboot ;-(

  • 24 February 2012 at 00:52

    I upgraded from 11.04 to 11.10 without doing some research first and got the same issue. Then I came upon this article which suggested removing one of the RAIDed disks (I’m on RAID1) and seeing which one works.

    Well, I did that and got the damn thing to boot. Apparently what happened was that the upgrade worked perfectly on only one drive.

    Now I have to figure out how to re-RAID my disk…


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