Show GRUB for Atomic Desktops

Fedora has GRUB hidden by default, as part of the “flicker free boot” change.

This looks nice, but if something breaks, the breakage will 90% not result in a broken system.

Users should be able to select their boot option graphically, all the time.

On my machine I still have no idea when GRUB shows and when it doesnt, and the needed key to press is not trivial (i.e. not Esc).

DNF Fedora doesnt use BTRFS snapshots like OpenSUSE Tumbleweed does, so the backup Kernels are not as useful as an entire backup system on Atomic.

Do you think it would make sense to change request a change for Atomic Desktops, to display the GRUB boot options?

Maybe combined with a nice GRUB theme ?

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You should be able to hold down Shift while booting until it appears. It’s not Esc because that requires timing the keystroke just right, and because that brings up the firmware (BIOS) menu on many systems.

Apparently F8 also works, and also apparently that’s the key to bring up the Windows boot menu — I haven’t tested either of these.

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The documentation for immutable variants does not direct users of immutable distributions to do this. If the change suggested in this thread will not be approved, it would be good to update the documentation.

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So from the GNU/Grub2 documentation it states that holding shift key for BIOS systems will bring up a hidden Grub2 menu, and holding the Esc key for UEFI systems will do the same. I use systemd-boot and its menu can be revealed by pressing space.

Added docs-team

This is not a change yet, just a discussion about it.

I dont see a reason to hide the menu, really. Hiding stuff that may help people (“oh I have the backup version too!”) Makes little sense.

I will try Shift and probably add it to the Docs on time.

@jakfrost the problem here is the difference betweem “rtfm” oldschool users and regular beginners (oops, outed myself as one).

Apart from having docs within the OS and not externally, nearly no other distro hides GRUB by default so this is a bit Fedora specific.

And to find it easier, docs for atomic desktops are needed.

It adds to your boot up time would be one. It is very rarely necessary to need to use it normally. It is fairly easy to have it pop up.

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Mainly because whether Atomic Fedora or “Regular” Fedora Workstation the Grub menu is accessed the same way since it is the boot loader. Please type info grub in a terminal to look at the installed documentation.

How will new users know this? Also I don’t think the GRUB menu is rarely used by Silverblue/Kinoite users.


$ info grub
bash: info: command not found
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sudo dnf install info

This thread is about Atomic distribution users and I am one of them.

I summarize the scenario as follows:

  1. The bootloader is hidden by default. :arrow_heading_down:
  2. In the documentation of atomic variants, users are directed to the hidden bootloader to perform a temporary rollback. :arrow_heading_down:
  3. Users cannot find the hidden bootloader. :arrow_heading_down:
  4. The documentation also doesn’t say how to make the bootloader visible. :arrow_heading_down:
  5. It is then recommended to type the command “info” in the terminal to view the documentation for the bootloader. :arrow_heading_down:
  6. But the “info” command is not included in the vanilla commit. :arrow_heading_down:
  7. So it is suggested to layer that command. :tired_face:

I think this flow is not good, especially for new users.

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Silverblue documentation, troubleshooting section, Troubleshooting :: Fedora Docs

While the system is booting, interrupt the boot sequence at the GRUB2 menu by using the Esc key.

We’re back to the beginning.

This information is not in the document. :point_up_2:t3:

GRUB document is also not accessible from the system on the default commit. :point_up:t3:

The context of that information ( :point_up_2:t3:) is about resetting the passwords in Rescue Mode and it doesn’t work the same for every user. :point_down:t3:

Resetting passwords in Rescue Mode

In the case where you are unable to remember your user password or root password, you can reset the password using the following steps.

  1. While the system is booting, interrupt the boot sequence at the GRUB2 menu by using the Esc key.

But pressing F8 and holding Shift really works.

Also, the scenario I’m talking about is based on a situation that would require more access to GRUB menu: doing a temporary rollback.

I’m done.

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I’m not sure if it applies to atomic variants but this is how I disable hiding GRUB menu on Fedora Workstation:

Yes it works the same on Atomic.

I think the hidden menu is a “boot experience” improvement but it needs to be accessible.

The default browser has this Fedora Homepage which is pretty cool and accessible.

The GRUB2 docs need to be changed and copied to Atomic, as 1. They seem to be incorrect or incomplete (I remember using UEFI and Esc not working)? and 2. They are under a pretty random chapter.

Showing GRUB is a basic requirement

  • to rollback before booting on Atomic
  • to boot into an older Kernel on traditional Fedora
  • to use BTRFS snapshots on traditional Fedora, should that ever use them
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They can be changed by anyone who wants to volunteer, even @feutreHow to make casual contributions :: Fedora Docs

Actually, that command to rollback is used in a terminal on the booted deployment. If a deployment fails to complete, rollback is automatic, no need to ever enter the grub menu unless there is a mismanaged configuration in most cases.

Again, unless the updated kernel didn’t boot, this selection is best and easiest done by being in a booted system and working from the command line there. Grub menu access is only ever needed when the boot fails due to a kernel argument usually.

This would be also done from the command line of the default booted system, unless it was a recovery operation.

That was what I said in comment 4, it is not dependent upon fedora versions, it is only about Grub2

It is accessible; In the official Grub2 documentation, which is where Fedora likely derived theirs, it states the menu can be hidden … ‘GRUB_TIMEOUT_STYLE=hidden’ is the current Fedora setting I believe with possibly ‘GRUB_TIMEOUT_STYLE=countdown’
and can be accessed with either holding down the shift key or pressing esc key or f4 key. There is also a second Power button some Laptops had for powering on two different OS’s, which Grub2 will honour. This info is not on the first page or under it’s own title, you have to read to find it. And the bit about getting the menu up is just casually mentioned.

To customize the menu entries …

For more detailed customisation of grub-mkconfig’s output, you may edit the scripts in /etc/grub.d directly. /etc/grub.d/40_custom is particularly useful for adding entire custom menu entries; simply type the menu entries you want to add at the end of that file, making sure to leave at least the first two lines intact.

In the case of the Fedora Atomic versions you would/should be able to modify the files in /etc/grub.d but the menu changes would need rpm-ostree to make a new commit. grub-mkconfig being the command used in Workstation to generate the Grub menu entries.

Yes for sure, these docs are on my todo list.

Yes keyword being

This is an edge case and not the thing needed. If a driver gives weird flickering issues etc the system still boots.

Yes but here it is important to work.

Same here. Needs to work if boot fails.

As in “I know how to open GRUB”. Of course there are docs etc.

The modifications on Atomic need to be documented (when I find out how I can do that).

I think a simple “Press Shift during boot to show the menu” on the “beautiful boot screen” would be enough?

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Technically, to fight the spread of the info across variants docs (so in different source repos), and to prevent additional workload to the already under supported documentation efforts, it should be just a link to one set of instructions on how to use Grub2 with Fedora. Yes the instructions for this (how to unhide the menu while booting) in Fedora is spartan, and not in an obvious place, but it is the very same info on the official Grub2 site (not rationalizing, just pointing out where we get our info from). Having it visible always will add to boot time and trust me there will be more complaints from the community at large for such a move (that adds to what many consider already long boot times). Those instructions should likely be for Workstation as it is the flagship edition.

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Would be a message below the fedora logo make sense?

To show the boot menu, press Shift during startup

The issue of course is that this does not work but requires a reboot and pressing it BEFORE the message appears. Which is the bad UX I am talking about.

Most BIOS will show a possible button you can press to show it, but a hidden grub cant.

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