Those who have Ubuntu Linux alongside another Operating System on their computer would recognize the boot selector known as GRUB (grand unified boot-loader). GRUB is simple, plain text and boring.

If you’re looking to spruce up this boot-time experience, you can now replace GRUB with a flashy boot-loader named BURG.

Picture of Sora Theme for BURG

The sora theme for BURG

While BURG has been around for a while now, it is easier than ever to install. Follow the steps below to install:

(note: BURG can be used with any OS, however this article pertains to installation through Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala)

Step 1: Open Synaptic Package Manger:

System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager

Step 2: In Synaptic, add repository:

Go to: Settings -> Repositories | Other Software (tab)|, and click Add.

Next: Copy and paste the following URL to add the Karmic Repository: http://ppa.launchpad.net/bean123ch/burg/ubuntu karmic main

(Note: Do a google search for other version repositories if you are running a newer or later version of Ubuntu)

Step 3: Refresh listing and search:

Close the settings window and refresh the package listing. Now you can search the term “burg” in the box at the top of the package manager.

Mark the following packages for installation:

  • Burg-pc (installs dependent package burg-common)
  • Burg-themes (installs dependent package burg-themes-common)
  • Burg-emu
Synaptic Package Manager

Synaptic Package Manager - Burg packages

(Note: These three packages are basically the bootloader, some graphical themes, and an emulator that allows viewing changes without a reboot)

Step 4: Apply Changes:

Click on the Apply button in the Package Manager and the new packages will install. You will be prompted twice to select something/input information. The important one is which disk to install BURG onto. Usually this will be the first disk in the list.

(Note: The installer suggests putting this onto every disk if you are unsure)

The other input required is information about kernel. Hit next without changing the boxes.

Step 5: Test/view BURG:

At this point, you should already be able to reboot and see BURG in action. When the screen shows up, you can hit T to select another theme. Burg’s default setting is to remember the last theme you selected by this process.

(Note: If you are still seeing the old GRUB boot-loader, it is likely that you have put BURG onto the wrong disk)

Advanced Customization:

If you want to have a more graphical boot (doing away with the text/list all together), you may find there are too many choices (older Ubuntu Kernel versions, Windows recovery partitions, etc).

I like to use the theme called Sora_clean. This theme has no text, which basically means I want to have a single icon for Ubuntu, and a Single Icon for Windows XP. Follow the steps below to achieve a similar result.

Step 1: Edit burg’s config file.

BURG, like the latest versions of GRUB will compile a settings file from a script. Among other things, the script will search for Operating systems on your PC.

The main settings file can be found at /etc/default/burg.cfg

You will need to edit this file as root. I like to load nautilus as root: gksudo nautilus, and from here I can edit any file I like with root permissions.

In the settings file, uncomment (remove the # from…) the line GRUB_DISABLE_LINUX_RECOVERY=”true”

This will remove the recovery console option from the menu.

(Note: the other option you might want to change here is the display resolution)

After changing this file, open the console and type:

sudo update-burg

Step 2: Remove older Ubuntu kernel versions.

If you want to clear out the older versions of Ubuntu, go back to (or re-launch) nautilus as root, and do the following.

Navigate to /boot,

Switch to list view, and sort by date modified. This should show all the various files related to each new kernel release grouped together.

On my system, the current latest version is 2.6.31.20. Yours will most likely be different

I created a new folder called oldversions, and moved to it, all older versions of the following files (ones not including the number 2.6.31.20)

  • initrd
  • vmcoreinfo
  • system.map
  • vmlinuz
  • config
  • abi

(Note: you could also just delete them)

After removing these, open the console and type:

sudo burg-mkconfig

Step 3: Manually edit /boot/burg/burg.cfg if needed

If you don’t have any other items you wish to leave out of the boot menu, you don’t need to do this step.

In my case, I had a recovery partition that came up as “Windows NT”

In nautilus (as root) navigate to /boot/burg/ and change burg.cfg to “read/write” instead of “read-only”

(Note: every time you remake this file using update-burg or burg-mkconfig it will reset to read-only again)

Open the file for editing, scroll down to near the bottom, and you will find the item you wish to remove, menu items look like this:

menuentry “Microsoft Windows XP” –class windows –class os {
insmod ntfs
set root=’(hd0,2)’
search –no-floppy –fs-uuid –set 5214890e30653bca
drivemap -s (hd0) ${root}
chainloader +1
}

Delete the item and it will be gone. Remember that every time you run burg-mkconfig or update-burg, you will have to repeat this step.

(Note: To avoid having to do this every time the config files is re-made, you would need to customize the script /etc/burg.d/30_os-prober, to recognize and skip a particular entry. This is beyond my current abilities and beyond the scope of this tutorial).

And  there finally you should have a sleek new boot-loader. A fair amount of work involved if you want the best results, but very easy if you simply wish to have an eye-pleasing list of options when you boot up your computer.

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6 Responses to Ubuntu Graphical Boot

  1. Shakir says:

    Very Nice.. Good job.. Thanx a lot.

  2. Alex says:

    Thanks a lot, this is exactly what I needed. I still fear comments in text files like “DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE” so I haven’t done Step 3 (it recognised some dormant XP installation of mine), is there some way around that (apart from blatantly ignoring the warning)?

    • Rols says:

      If you don’t want to edit burg.cfg, the easiest solution would be to format the partition that contains your old XP. If you want to keep the data on that partition, you could also try deleting the windows folder and the boot.ini file. But I’m not 100% certain that will stop the OS prober from detecting it.

      If you want the option to at sometime in the future boot into that dormant XP, you would have to bite the bullet and edit burg.cfg

      Personally I suggest just disregarding those warnings in burg.cfg, and edit the file. As long as you follow the instructions and only delete the portion shown in step 3, nothing will go wrong.

      My guess is that the warnings are there to make it clear to people that things have changed since the original grub. Because there’s still plenty of guides online that talk about editing the config file to add new menu items and change settings.

      As a footnote, if you are good at scripting (I think it’s linux shell script), you could edit /etc/burg.d/30_os-prober, and catch the old OS and stop the script from including it in burg.cfg

      This is also a more permanent solution, but something beyond my abilities, and probably more risky than just editing burg.cfg

      • Alex says:

        Thanks much Rols, I think I’ll just bite that bullet.

        Btw just to clarify, I do actually still use my Windows partition; it just gets detected twice (so my choices are Linux-Windows-Windows, where both Windowses are exactly identical).

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  3. TsarProdigy says:

    So I’m having a problem adding the URL into my Software Sources list.
    i paste the URL (http://ppa.launchpad.net/bean123ch/burg/ubuntu karmic main) and the “Add Source” button is greyed out. how can i fix this?

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