Almost from the first time I used Linux, I’ve been booting it along with another operating system. First this was Windows, since I needed Windows for work, while later I used Linux alongside Mac OS X and Windows together. Sometimes I had a couple different versions of Linux installed at the same time, as I tried out different features offered by the two different choices. This was vastly different from my first experience as a computer owner. I’d been a Mac user for years, which meant I never had more than OS X installed. When I started using Linux (and whatever other operating system), I needed to figure out how to make both systems available each time I booted up. GRUB, which stands for GNU GRand Universal Bootloader, is a program that allows different operating systems, or different kernels for Linux, to be on the same computer, and all show up at boot up.
When I first started using Linux, GRUB was fairly straightforward and easy to configure. If you wanted to pass a particular parameter to the kernel, you would type it on a certain line, and that was that. Easy. But then Ubuntu (my Linux distribution of choice), switched to GRUB 2, and suddenly configuring GRUB… it wasn’t harder, but it was different. Suddenly the main GRUB configuration file wasn’t to be configured by hand. You configured another configuration file, which the main configuration file then used to configure itself. It took a while to get my head wrapped around the way it worked. I’m a little better about it now, although I still double-check before I change anything, and I know many people are still in the same boat. For those of us who feel like a little hand-holding would be better, the new 2.0 version of a program called Grub Customizer is a welcome release.
Grub Customizer takes a lot of the guesswork out of modifying a GRUB configuration file. What all can it do?
It can hide any entry from showing up in the GRUB menu that is shown when a computer launches. This is helpful as many times a user will have multiple Linux kernels installed at once. This doesn’t cause any problems, but if you have the last six updates still installed, while only using the most recent one, it can clutter up the menu. Grub Customizer allows those “extra” GRUB entries to be hidden.
Grub Customizer can also be used to help determine which of the entries is the default option. GRUB uses a timeout (generally 10 seconds, although this can be modified). If no action is taken during the timeout period, the default kernel or operating system is launched. Grub Customizer gives you a couple options to designate the default entry, either by position or by using the previously booted entry.
If you have any kernel parameters to pass on a boot time, those can also be entered right into a text field in Grub Customizer. Recovery entries can automatically be generated as well, which means if your parameters cause a problem, your system isn’t a loss, as you can simply boot up using a kernel free of any parameters.
Most GRUB menus aren’t all that attractive. Black background and white text is the norm. Grub Customizer won’t make it all that much more attractive, but you can change the resolution and colors used, as well as having an option for a background image. And if you have BURG installed (BURG is a bootloader that lets users choose which kernel or operating system should boot via a stylish GUI), it can be configured with Grub Customizer as well.
Grub Customizer is not a program you’ll be using every day. It’s not like a music player or web browser or word processor, which often need a bit of style to make them memorable and more usable. Grub Customizer, on the other hand, is pretty basic. It has checkboxes, text entry fields and pop-up menus. That’s it. But GRUB isn’t something you’ll configure all that often, so Grub Customizer doesn’t need to be fancy. All that matters for me is that it makes configuring GRUB a lot simpler and stress-free.