Fixing a Xen DomU’s grub config

When you use xen-create-image to bootstrap an ubuntu, it sets up a grub config file menu.lst. However, this boot config is not kept up-to-date with newer ubuntu’s because they use grub2 (which uses grub.cfg and not menu.lst). And Xen’s pygrub first looks at menu.lst, so if you have a stale file, it will always boot an old kernel.

I ‘Fixed’ it like this (a real fix I have yet to devise, but this works. Actually, I think it is a bug):

The grub hooks in Debian and Ubuntu don’t take the fact into account that the machine might be running as paravirtualized VM. Therefore, it can’t find /dev/xvda to install grub on, which it shouldn’t try. Bug reports exist about this, but it is not deemed important, it seems. The result is that the menu.lst that was created by xen-create-image is never updated and updates to the kernel are never booted.

Pygrub considers menu.lst over grub.cfg (which would give problems with upgrading to grub2). But you can also use it to your advantage. You can edit /etc/kernel-img.conf to look like this (do_symlinks = yes and no hooks):

do_symlinks = yes
do_bootfloppy = no
do_initrd = yes
postinst_hook =
postrm_hook   =

And then make /boot/grub/menu.lst with this:

default         0
timeout         2

title           Marauder
root            (hd0,0)
kernel          /vmlinuz root=/dev/xvda2 ro
initrd          /initrd.img

Then uninstall grub. This way, you always boot the new kernel. (actually, I found that you can’t always uninstall grub. I now have machines with grub-pc and grub-common installed, but have an empty /boot/grub with only a menu.lst there. This will keep aptitude from complaining about grub-pc not being able to configure, because it’s unable to detect the bios device for /dev/xvda2 (or whatever)