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Right now I have this setup:

/dev/sda1 is NTFS where I store my cross-platform accessible pictures/videos/etc.
/dev/sda2 is my Windows 7 boot partition

/dev/sdb1 is ext4 partition with Ubuntu 11.04 mounted at /
/dev/sdb2 is my swap partition
/dev/sdb3 is my /home partition

Problem is, when I boot, Grub (I think it's grub, at least) wants to automatically boot from /dev/sda1 but freaks out when it senses NTFS so it sends me to grub rescue mode where I follow this guide and get it to boot from /dev/sdb1.

I've set my BIOS boot order preference to prefer hd1 over hd0, but that doesn't help. I've also run sudo update-grub to see if I just needed to update grub after making all these new partitions and such.

Any ideas how to remedy this? I'd love even a grub menu over immediately booting into grub rescue mode.

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Create a Custom Menu in Grub2. The guide for this can be found here: under 7. Custom Menu Entries. You can add '#Custom Menu Entries' after the link I gave you to get to the correct place on the page.

A sample entry might look like:
menuentry "My Default Karmic" {
set root=(hd0,1)
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set cb201140-52f8-4449-9a95-749b27b58ce8
linux /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.31-11-generic root=/dev/sdb1 ro quiet splash
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.31-11-generic

After you've made and tested your custom menu, you can make it the default choice by editing the GRUB_DEFAULT option in /etc/default/grub.

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