I work with a free/open source project. A Debian maintainer reported a failure under X32 (not a typo; its not X86), and I'm trying to set up a test environment to reproduce it.

According Debian's X32 Ports wiki, I need to enable the X32 extensions in the kernel. To do that, I need to add the Grub entry. Below is what I added to /etc/default/grub, and its taken from the wiki page (except I commented the default entry).

# GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="syscall.x32=y quiet"

I then performed an update-grub per the wiki page and verified the entries in the compiled menu (see below).

When I boot the system, the option does not appear to be available under the main menu or the advanced options:

Missing Grub entry for X32

Debian's Grub2 docs leaves a lot to be desired. It only discusses how to colorize menu entries (you can't make this sort of stuff up...).

I expected the following after following the prescription provided by the docs:

  • Debian GNU/Linux
  • Debian GNU/Linux (X32)
  • Advanced options
  • Memory test (memtest86+)
  • Memory test (memtest86+, serial)
  • ...

How do I add X32 boot options to Grub, give it a name like "Debian GNU/Linux (X32)", ensure its a boot option for the kernel during boot, and ensure the changes survive after an upgrade or dist-upgrade?

According to Marius's answer below, I added the following to /etc/grub.d/40_custom:

menuentry 'Debian GNU/Linux (X32)' --class debian --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os
  $menuentry_id_option 'gnulinux-simple-a4af7dfc-640c-4aa8-bf0b-068af3d72b01' {
    linux/boot/vmlinuz-4.2.0-1-amd64 root=UUID=a4af7dfc-640c-4aa8-bf0b-068af3d72b01 ro syscall.x32=y quiet

It provides the named entry as expected, but it results in a boot error:

error: can't find command: `linux/boot/vmlinuz-4`

I think that was due to copy/paste in Emacs (it apparently removes whitespace???). So I changed it to linux /boot/vmlinuz-4.2.0-1-amd64.... It resulted in a kernel panic:

enter image description here


You could add foo=bar at grub

From a terminal run:

gksudo gedit /etc/default/grub

and enter your password.

Find the line starting with GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT and append foo=bar to its end. For example:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash foo=bar"

Save the file and close the editor.

Finally, start a terminal and run:

sudo update-grub

to update GRUB's configuration file (you probably need to enter your password).

On the next reboot, the kernel should be started with the boot parameter

Source : Grub forums

  • Thanks BlueBerry. I set up a second VM with the syscall.x32=y option always in effect. The Debian docs on GRUB don't tell us how to add a second, persistent entry with different options from the default ones. Can you tell me how to add a second, persistent entry that survives GRUB updates (i.e., when /etc/default/grub gets over written by the distro)? If so, I'd be happy to accept. – jww Sep 21 '15 at 7:02

If I have understood you right, you want to find a way to choose whether to boot with/out X32. You can do it in two distinct ways:

  1. As need arises. Boot, at the boot menu hit e for edit, scroll down to the line

    linux /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=UUID=978e3e81-8048-4ae1-8a06-aa727458e8ff quiet splash

and modify it to

  linux /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=UUID=978e3e81-8048-4ae1-8a06-aa727458e8ff syscall.x32=y quiet 

Now continue booting.

  1. Systematically. In the directory /etc/grub.d/ there is an entry, 40_custom, which is used exactly for this. You will have to copy in it a section of the file /boot/grub/grub.cfg: the part included between menuentry Debian GNU/Linux... and the end of the breaces, }. After inclusion, modify the line

     linux /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=UUID=978e3e81-8048-4ae1-8a06-aa727458e8ff quiet splash


     linux /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=UUID=978e3e81-8048-4ae1-8a06-aa727458e8ff syscall.x32=y quiet

Also, remember to change the name of the menuentry, in 40_custom to something different from your first entry, otherwise you will not be able to distinguish the two entries.

Run update-grub and you are done.

  • Thanks Marius. "...If I have understood you right..." - here is what I am trying to do. They are the requirements phrased as a question: "How do I add X32 boot options to Grub, give it a name like "Debian GNU/Linux (X32)", ensure its a boot option for the kernel during boot, and ensure the changes survive after an upgrade or dist-upgrade?" – jww Oct 7 '15 at 15:30
  • Well, I've been trying to figure out exactly must be copied from /boot/grub/grub.cfg and pasted into /etc/grub.d/40_custom. grub.cfg is very busy, each menuentry contains non-trivial scripting, and I'm not sure I am doing things correctly. Does Debian provide a clear and concise reference somewhere for this? I can't believe its this damn difficult... – jww Oct 7 '15 at 15:44
  • @jww if you boot your machine, hit <kbd>e</kbd> when the Grub menu appears, you will find in front of you the standard menuentry that starts your system, without the fluff. That's the one you want to copy: pencil and paper... – MariusMatutiae Oct 7 '15 at 15:48
  • Now I'm getting a kernel panic.... At this point, I think I am going to abandon this quest because I can't find clear and concise references or answers. I even asked on the Debian mailing lists (with no replies). There's no sense it continuing to aggravate myself, and I can create a second Debian 8 VM with syscall.x32=y. Thanks for trying. – jww Oct 7 '15 at 16:26

If you want the option just for the latest kernel in the top level menu, do not put "syscall.x32=y" in /etc/default/grub. Instead, find

linux_entry "${OS}" "${version}" simple \

in /etc/grub.d/10_linux and add this after it:

linux_entry "${OS} (X32)" "${version}" simple \

Then run update-grub to update /boot/grub/grub.cfg accordingly.

This way I could boot the latest kernel with "syscall.x32=y" option, but I don't notice difference to booting without it. That is in Xubuntu 15.10 64-bit. As for the configration surviving after grub package upgrade, I don't know; maybe installation notices a customized configuration file and gives you an option to keep it. At least this survives kernel updates.

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