I have a (non-UEFI) Gentoo Linux system, and I am preparing a hard drive for another system. I have prepared partitions for the new system, and now I want to make it bootable. I remembed that in legacy GRUB, I used these commands:

# grub
grub> root (hd0,0)
grub> setup (hd1)

This made a bootsector on current (hd1), which pointed to (hd0). Then, when I booted the system, the new disk became the first device (i.e. hd0) and everything worked.

The only thing I was able to find for GRUB2 is grub2-install /dev/sdb, which installs the MBR pointing to UUID of some current volume, which of course fails when I move the disk to a new machine.

So, how do I make a bootable HDD with GRUB2?

2 Answers 2


Just found out that as GRUB2 uses UUIDs for partition ID, all you have to do is mount target /boot partition somewhere (let's say /mnt/new-boot) and then tell that to GRUB using --boot-directory:

grub2-install --boot-directory=/mnt/new-boot /dev/sdb

Just doing grub-install won't be enough, you will have to update-grub or grub-mkconfig unless you have your own initial grub.cfg. I have to run this from a chroot jail for it to work. Here is a snippet adapted from a script I wrote to do this (altered form is untested):

# assumes /dev/sdb1 is the target root and
# /boot doesn't have to mounted separately
mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt

grub-install --boot-directory=/mnt/boot /dev/sdb

mount --bind /proc /mnt/proc
mount --bind /sys /mnt/sys
mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev
chroot /mnt update-grub
umount /mnt/proc /mnt/sys /mnt/dev

update-grub may be Debian specific, according to the manual it is just a stub for:

grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
  • I already had a working grub.cfg, but it's good to know this for future reference.
    – che
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 15:50

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