While doing apt-get dist-upgrade on a Debian GNU/Linux Jessie EXTLINUX warned me that now was mandatory to install grub.

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The system was installed after an image not done by me: is it safe to ignore the warning? Have I to install grub also if now it's not installed and everything works (until I reboot, maybe)?

Can you please give me pointers?

  • @lazyfrosch Well, something has to be explained better: doing verbatim what suggested resulted in a not-bootable box. Maybe the wrong part (my fault) was grub-install on the MBR (partition was ext3). I restarted and executing apt-get and nothing more and it was successful.
    – 473183469
    Oct 30, 2015 at 11:52

2 Answers 2


Your system won't boot anymore, since EXTLINUX config won't be updated.

Install grub and tell him where to install its boot loader.

apt-get install grub-pc


I also experienced this while upgrading Debian Wheezy to Debian Jessie on a VPS. The solution was to keep the old version of extlinux. Source: http://shallowsky.com/blog/linux/install/extlinux-on-jessie.html

Hold the old extlinux:

echo "extlinux hold" | dpkg --set-selections

Then upgrade:

apt update
apt upgrade
apt dist-upgrade

Reboot should still work.

If you do a kernel update, as far as I understand, you should update the extlinux config manually. See this question: Kernel upgrade with EXTLINUX on Debian

  • IMO installing grub is a lot less work in the long run, since you don't have any manual actions anymore after future kernel updates. Sep 20, 2018 at 13:45
  • You are right, but installing Grub is not always an option. On my VPS, replacing extlinux with grub or grub2 results in a non-booting system. Sep 20, 2018 at 13:50

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