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Does there exist a bootloader which can scan your disks for operating systems on startup, rather than requiring manual setting up of the bootloader?

This would make it very easy for a layperson to do things such as plug in a hard disk to a computer and attempt to boot into operating systems on it. Whether or not the OS will be set up correctly to function on the machine is a whole different matter and that is of course not within the scope of this question.

For instance, I built a new system recently and I'd like to access my Ubuntu 10.04 partition on it, but using grub from the command line of Ubuntu 11.04 live-cd (live-usb, really) to reconfigure the MBR produces errors. I suspect I will need to perform the GRUB installation from a 10.04 live-cd for it to work because it is an older version of GRUB (2). Well, it just so happens that 10.04 live-cd does not come with the drivers for the NIC and grub doesn't come installed. Of course I can download the .deb for it for Lucid from somewhere and put it on a flash drive.... See, all of these steps could be avoided if I could temporarily boot into my 10.04 partition which is already there in the first place.

There are utilities that can fairly easily configure GRUB into the MBR of disks. When GRUB is set up, it is generally able to detect both Linux and Windows installations present on the disks, and produces entries for them. Well, what's preventing us from performing this process every time I load up a "dynamic boot scanner" bootloader? After all, it's not like it takes very long for GRUB to perform the scan during installation.

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The lucid livecd does in fact, have grub2 on it, and while it doesn't scan automatically, the grub command prompt provides enough functionality for you to manually poke around and boot an unconfigured OS – psusi Feb 8 '12 at 2:35
You may be right, I might have gotten my facts wrong – Steven Lu Feb 8 '12 at 2:44
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've never used gujin but I saw it a while back (ca. 2006) while I was researching operating systems and I think it does what you describe.

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Cool. Looks like this can be found on Ultimate Boot CD, which can be installed into a USB using YUMI: ( I'm going to try putting that on the same USB drive as my Ubuntu 11.04. – Steven Lu Feb 8 '12 at 0:57
gujin worked great, and now I have a handy bootable USB drive with UBCD on it. I'm typing this reply from the Ubuntu installation I created on an entirely different machine! – Steven Lu Feb 8 '12 at 1:10

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