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I think I have messed this one up royally...

I have done a clean install of centOS 5.6 (x86_64) on my system. I got through the installation process successfully and rebooted. Now I am greeted with a blinking cursor on a black screen. No grub, no menu, no nothing (the system does POST).

I did wipe the hard drive completely before doing the install. I am wondering if I wiped the MBR too, but I thought the centOS install would fix that. I am able to use bootable media with no issues. I have a copy of RIP Linux on a bootable USB so I am able to access the CentOS install files.

At this point Im not sure where to go from here. What should my next step be to troubleshoot this? How would I do a fix or even a check on the MBR?

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Use fdisk from a live cd? fdisk -l to start. A linux installation would normally make sure there was a partition table before proceeding, and if there was not one, it would prompt you to create one. So this does seem odd. – Faheem Mitha Jun 10 '11 at 18:16
Chances are that you're just missing a bootloader. Boot any Linux live CD and run file -s /dev/sda (where /dev/sda is your hard disk) to check what's there. I'll let a CentOS user explain how to repair the bootloader — most installers have a way to do that but how varies between distributions. – Gilles Jun 10 '11 at 20:53
If it's not the absense of a boot loader, check that your BIOS has your hard drives listed in the right order under boot priority. Also try setting back to fail-safe-defaults. Sometimes funny SATA related settings will stop it from being bootable. Lastly upgrade your bios. – Caleb Jun 11 '11 at 7:58
up vote 0 down vote accepted

If it's the case of missing bootloader, I usually use http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/ . The interface is very friendly and easy to use.

Of course, it is probably also possible to use CentOS install disk, but I'm afraid I don't have experience there.

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CentOS installed the boot partition to the first partition of the disk. Using SuperGrubDIsk (which is also on the ultimatebootcd you provided), I had to install grub to the second partition which actually contained the OS. Thank you for the suggestions. – Hari Seldon Jun 11 '11 at 16:23

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