Uniboot

another boot manager for Linux.

Where'd it come from?

There's this book, see. It's called 'Linux Universe', and the copies I have seen are English translations of a German publication. It comes with a CD containing the Linux Universe distribution. The copyright notices on the CD I've seen cite the authors as Unifix Gmbh. Unfortunately, the email addresses given refer to a defunct site.

Judging by the source, it is also the boot manager used on the old Linux-FT distribution.

STOP PRESS I just came across a modern edition. The distribution has been updated to a 2.0 series kernel. The copyright notices are now in favour of Springer-Verlag. I am, however, not about to splurg 30 quid on the new edition. The screenshots of the boot inside look exactly the same as the previous version.

Why 'Uniboot'?

The source refers to it as UNIFIX-BOOT. I just thought Uniboot a smaller handle.

So what about it?

Linux Universe doesn't use LILO, but its own boot manager. It's different to LILO in that it can present a full-screen display on booting as well as a command line.

Even more interestingly, the boot loader knows about several Linux file system formats, including ext2. Told to boot /boot/vmlinux, it can understand enough of the filesystem format to read the kernel file. LILO needs the lilo program to provide it with a list of sectors to load, hence you need to re-run lilo every time you update the kernel. With Uniboot, you don't need to do anything.

In command line mode, you can even list the partitions and their contents. So if you forget where your kernel is, you can go looking.

So what're you doing with it?

I got pointed to it by Charlie Brady of the Sydney Linux Users Group. You needed TASM to build it, which seemed a silly thing, so I converted the source to a form pleasing to NASM, the freeware Intel assembler. I also tweaked to build procedure to work on glibc systems (I'm building on RH5.2).

So, I got it going. But I found the GUI somewhat, ah, unusual. So I've done a replacement. It needs work, but it's sort of there. At the moment I'm trying to get round to doing the kernel/partition selection via the GUI so the command line adverse can deal exclusively with the GUI. Then it needs to be gone over and updated to bring it into line with the stuff that LILO does these days - I'm not sure what the differences will be, to be honest. But I do know I won't have time to do this work - volunteers to take this up wanted!

Stop prattling, man. Screenshots, dammit!

OK. Here's counting down to automatic boot of the default selection, the main menu, setting system defaults, a boot entry setup, and a chaining boot entry setup.

How do I get it?

Well, there's no instructions or anything, only a vestigial readme. You're on your own.

And it's here.

Why is this web page so daggy?

Dammit, Jim, I'm a coder not a web page designer.

And I don't have time for coding, let alone anything else.