Installer becomes confused and crashes when grub-install fails

Bug #1267922 reported by Phillip Susi on 2014-01-10
This bug affects 12 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
ubiquity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

If grub-install fails, ubiquity screws up in two ways:

1) It unmounts /target/dev, so when you select another location ( the correct one ) to install grub to, that attempt fails as well
2) After selecting a different loation, the installer goes immediately to the installation complete dialog, while attempting to install grub in the background. At this point, clicking just about anything causes ubiquity to crash.

You can easily reproduce this in a vm with two disk drives. Install the system on sda, but select sdb1 for grub. This will fail because cross disk installs require the embed area. When the prompt comes up to pick another location, pick sdb or sda, both of which will work if you chose them the first time. The installation complete message pops up immediately. A second or two later, the grub install failed dialog comes back. In syslog you will see the second attempt failed because grub-probe could not find /boot. This is because /dev is not mounted in /target at this point.

We get many crash reports filed to grub as a result of this where the wrong grub target was chosen the first time, then the user picks the correct place, but installing there fails too.

Further, often the grub install failed dialog box locks up and won't respond to any button presses.

Phillip Susi (psusi) on 2014-06-09
Changed in ubiquity (Ubuntu):
milestone: none → ubuntu-14.10
Jaap (jwstolk) wrote :

Still there in Lubuntu 16.10 32-bit. I'm installing using a bog standard quad-core desktop, from DVD, but onto 40 GB IBM Thinkpad PATA harddisk (using a laptop-to-desktop PATA conversion cable. No other operating systems, no RAID, no encryption, etc. Using the default "Use Whole disk" in the installer. (The number of reports is small over many years, but maybe not everyone bothers to create an account.)

Phillip Susi (psusi) on 2017-05-26
Changed in ubiquity (Ubuntu):
milestone: ubuntu-14.10 → ubuntu-17.10
Paul Dufresne (paulduf) wrote :

This is still an issue in 17.10 beta 1 (xubuntu 32 bits).

In my case, I created LVM partitions, and ubiquity suggested to install grub on dm-0, that sounded
odd to me, but I tried it. Grub failed to install. I could select new destination in the window,
to try, bug nothing happen when I accepted. Also, giving up installation option, was not responding either. Pretty much like what I remembered from previous versions. I don't know about unomounting /target/dev as the original poster said however. I finally 'sudo killall ubiquity' to give up installation and give better options (created a boot 30M boot partition before installing).

Paul Dufresne (paulduf) on 2017-09-05
tags: added: artful beta1
tags: added: grub
Paul Dufresne (paulduf) wrote :

I copy here a link to message of someone who seems to have investigated this quite far:

Phillip Susi (psusi) on 2018-08-03
description: updated
Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

Thank you for reporting this bug to Ubuntu.
Ubuntu 17.10 (artful) reached end-of-life on July 19, 2018.

See this document for currently supported Ubuntu releases:

We appreciate that this bug may be old and you might not be interested in discussing it any more. But if you are then please upgrade to the latest Ubuntu version and re-test. If you then find the bug is still present in the newer Ubuntu version, please add a comment here telling us which new version it is in and change the bug status to Confirmed.

Changed in ubiquity (Ubuntu):
status: Triaged → Won't Fix
Changed in ubiquity (Ubuntu):
status: Won't Fix → Triaged
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