Install GRUB on a spare drive
Due to a BIOS bug in my HP MicroServer I have been forced to applied a workaround.
The MicroServer Gen8 has a bug that prevents the use of the 5th SATA port as the primary boot device. It will automatically attempt to boot from SATA port 1 if a drive is inserted, then port 2 and so forth. By removing all the fixed drives it is possible to make the system boot from port 5.
It is however possible to boot from the internal USB port or the internal MicroSD slot by default. So to solve this issue we are going to install GRUB onto a spare MicroSD card or a USB stick. The size or quality of the drive should not matter since it is only needed for GRUB to jump to the drive present on the 5th SATA port.
Format the USB/SD Card
First we need to correctly format the new disk as a bootable FAT drive.
Find the correct device identifier.
Clear the drive by writing all zeros to the drive (for good measure)
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdX
Format the disk
sudo fdisk /dev/sdX
Fdisk provides a shell where you can enter commands.
- Set the type to “o” for MSDOS
- Make a new primary partition “n” followed by “n” Accept the remaining as default.
- Set the disk to be bootable “a”
- Use “w” to commit the changes and exit the tool.
Now create a filesystem in the newly created partition.
sudo mkfs -t ext2 /dev/sdX1
Prepare for GRUB install
Create a mount point
Mount the new partition
sudo mount /dev/sdX1 /tmp/myusb
Create a folder named “boot” on the drive
sudo mkdir /tmp/myusb/boot
Install GRUB by running the grub-install script
sudo grub-install --boot-directory=/tmp/myusb/boot /dev/sdX
Update the GRUB configuration
sudo update-grub --output=/tmp/myusb/boot/grub/grub.cfg
Finally unmount and reboot
sudo unmount /tmp/myusb
To update it should be enough to mount the USB drive and run the update-grub script.