GSoC: progress on Bootloader Manager

I’ve been mentoring Google Summer of Code student Tomé Vardasca with his Bootloader Manager project. The goals are to have a easy-to-use and translated application to allow Ubuntu users to easily manage operating systems as well as bootloader settings and appearance. Tomé has now got a working app put together (see the screenshots below) but now we’d like to ask for your help. What Grub settings are most important for new users? What features would help you manage multi-boot installations?

Bootloader Manager (Main screen)

Bootloader Manager (Appearance)

Bootloader Manager (Menu item details)

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25 thoughts on “GSoC: progress on Bootloader Manager

  1. An important thing would be to have ‘recovery mode’ editable settings only under an ‘advanced’ tab or an extra message on the ‘Edit Operating System’ screen if ‘(recovery mode)’ appears in the title field.

  2. One-shot “Reboot to Windows”

    -> causes a reboot, selects windows as default to boot, but only for this one boot

    -> next reboot reverts back to booting ubuntu by default.

    There are some one-shot grub patches around (these have been used by the Xen project before now) if it’s not in the upstream grub distribution.

  3. Three the most common problems on #ubuntu:
    – Omg I can’t get my display adapter to working
    – Where on earth did my Windows go again from the list? (Auto-populate Windowses back to the list)
    – I reinstalled Windows and now I can’t boot to Ubuntu! (Grub destroyed from mbr)

    Guess which two ones you can really help with?

  4. Some comments on the UI:

    – the password boxes feel completely out of place. I think the password should be asked either before the program starts or when applying changes (preferably before the program starts, otherwise all your efforts will be in vain if you don’t have the password).

    – The add and remove buttons should be next to each other, not with the preferences button between them.

    – Hide menu and timeout should be beneath the list.

    – There should be a help button somewhere.

    Also there already is another program which does half of the things you are trying to achieve here. Perhaps it would be better to improve that one rather than inventing the wheel again? -> StartUp manager: http://web.telia.com/~u88005282/sum/index.html

  5. Ah, now I see password probably means the grub password. You should change that label to perhaps ‘bootloader password’ otherwise people will be typing their usual sudo password. Also it should be possible to enable/disable the password.

  6. The only thing missing from the startup manager that is present in your app is editing of the list of operating systems. This could be another tab in that app and then you have all you want.

  7. A button to Probe for alternate operating systems and make a generic configuration for them. Like probe for Windows, Debian, Slackware, ext. Then make the boot options needed for them, or give a list of detected operating systems, and allow the user to finish configuration that can’t be auto detected.

  8. One nice feature would be to restore back to default if the user seriously messed up their configuration. This feature would detect partitions and configure things automatically like the ubuntu installer did the first time. This would be especially valuable if it worked from the live CD so people could automatically recover Grub settings if they were destroyed somehow.

  9. The UI layout is a bit messy, a similar app that looks prettier is the gdm configuration from gnome. Maybe some inspiration from it could help. Other than that, great 🙂

  10. Nice work! Grub configuration is such a mess for beginners.
    However, please don’t remove the ability to choose “last selected” as the default choice for Grub.


  11. Also there already is another program which does half of the things you are trying to achieve here. Perhaps it would be better to improve that one rather than inventing the wheel again? -> StartUp manager: http://web.telia.com/~u88005282/sum/index.html

    I agree SUM has almost all the features of GSoC less the SplasImage Preview.

    Would be truly wise to merge both projects.

    Regards from Bolivia

  12. Hey,

    Looks like a great project. One suggestion I’d like to make is most probably outside of the scope of this project, but I’ll say it anyway.

    I would love to see an option to restart into another operating system. SuSE Linux has this option in their shutdown menu and it is a great feature to be able to choose windows or anther distro and walk away. This is incredibly useful for those with USB keyboards (since they can’t control grub).

    Cheers,
    Josh

  13. There should be only one kernel shown by default (possibly with the option to show more, for those who enjoy upgrading to completely broken kernels).

    From the third screen, I suggest moving the Kernel Options section into its own “Advanced”-type dialogue.

    From the first screen: Up and Down shouldn’t be necessary—the options should be moved by drag and drop. It’s not clear which option Remove will remove; there should be a Remove button beside each option and an Add button at the bottom below those.

  14. Hi Jordan 🙂

    first of all, cool to see this app happening, even when it is for GSoC 🙂

    But, what do you think a new user of linux (not only ubuntu) is expecting?
    Right, that it just works.
    For what do we need this app? Not for the new, not linux experienced user, but for the lazy “I’m an advanced user, and break my production system” user, who kills his Windows as well every 2 days 😉
    Just make a good distro default, and the pros in our community will use this app…but this app shouldn’t be used by new users, just because they are not interested in bootloaders 🙂

  15. Nice progress! Keep it up! This kind of tool is just the sort of thing we need to fill in the gaps and add the spit and polish to the desktop admin experience.

  16. If someone wants to use Ryan Kavanaugh’s idea with vga=**, then I would find it rather cool, when there would be a probe of the current possible values, and then have the possibility to select a resolution, instead of the vga=** parameter, which can be rather confusing for any newbies.

    Otherwise, looking good!

  17. Will it handle multiple Linux systems easily? Some of the ones I’ve seen (Fedora?) don’t use initrd. Will that be handled correctly for those of us adventurous enough to try more than one? How abot one of the BSD’s?

  18. I would love to see a ‘boot to CD’ option in the grub menu (or at least the ability to put one there if you wanted it)

  19. I think less is more in this case, think about moving the “control-freak” bits (most people _really_ just want things to work and even “major” settings to us like timeout and the order they are displayed in are non-issues to Mom) to a settings dialog.

    I’ve mocked up an interpretation to address some common use cases:

    * assist user in reinstalling grub when windows kills the MBR
    * very easy to set startup disk
    * first tab under preferences helps users
    – disable the boot menu entirely if they wish
    – adjust timeout on boot menu
    – set a grub password (this probably needs to be removed, most users probably want a bios password instead, perhaps add per-partition passwords under the OS tab?)


    I’m flying to Ireland for 17 days and will be checking mail every day or three. rcaskey goes before the @ and uga.edu goes after.

    –Rob

  20. Pingback: Pensées de LaserJock GSoC: Ubuntu Bootloader Manager 0.2 «

  21. Pingback: Jordan Mantha: GSoC: Ubuntu Bootloader Manager 0.2 // The Linux Index

  22. Pingback: GSoC: Ubuntu Bootloader Manager final look « LaserJock

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