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Attempting to install Ubuntu 16.04 Server onto a newly initialised disk. Using UEFI, and a 4.5TB / partition. After installing without issue, on rebooting, the server will not get past Grub.

Hardware:

  • New Supermicro Server
  • Hardware 6 x SSD RAID 5 - 4.5TB Virtual Disk
  • BIOS Fully updated

Installation Steps:

Selection of UEFI Virtual CD which is Ubuntu 16.04 Server. NOTE - I did chose the UEFI Virtual CD rather than the highlighted non UEFI as shown in the screenshot (i realised after i took the screenshot)

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Ubuntu default guided partition layout, non LVM, completely unmodified. Confirmation of partitions, including ESP is present.

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Installation completes without error. After installation, Ubuntu is visible in boot menu:

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System boots into Grub, no matter what option chosen:

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In Grub, from my understanding, the ESP should be mounted at /boot/efi. However, Grub shows errors as below, but can also list / normally, however anything inside / such as /etc has the error, including /boot:

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Grub shows partitions as:

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I am unsure how to proceed from here.

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  • What did ls / show you in grub? "the full listing as expected" doesn't explain either what you saw or your expectation. – Michael Hampton Dec 13 '16 at 22:27
  • ls / showed the typical Ubuntu / directory contents, including /boot, /etc, /usr, /var etc etc. I will screenshot this and add it to the question shortly. – elliotp Dec 13 '16 at 22:48
  • Question has been updated with grub output. – elliotp Dec 14 '16 at 10:19
  • Further attempts at fixing this - i've used the UEFI Shell and cleared all NVRAM Parameters, reinitialised the drive, reinstalled. This didn't help, i've also updated the RAID Firmware, reinitialised the drive, reinstalled, this also didn't help. – elliotp Dec 14 '16 at 16:36
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Try booting with supergrub dvd/cd. It may fix the problem with grub. This has sometimes worked for me in the past. Failing that just reinstall again. The first partition on your disk looks a bit strange. The issue may be related to having a raid of ssd's. You could try and install without raid and see how you go.

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  • I think this partition is normal? ESP is the standard UEFI boot partition. I've tried about 8 times now reinstalling trying different methods and BIOS options, however, the RAID is a Hardware RAID controller, i can't physically bypass this controller. I'll have a look into SuperGrub now. – elliotp Dec 14 '16 at 10:08
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So after a lot of testing and diagnosing I've found the solution, but I still don't understand why. If anyone can explain this to me I i'll award the answer.

The problem is was with the /boot directory. As it's installing under UEFI, the ESP gets setup under /boot/efi, in Grub this worked fine, i could read this ok.

However, some of the /boot directory, which contains the required kernel was not readable. When i attempted to manually load the kernel and boot from grub, the kernel loaded fine, but when attempting to load the initrd, i received error:

error: attempt to read or write outside of disk hd0

From what I understand this is because /boot is on the main 4.5TB partition, the files can end up anywhere on the drive, and in this case, and my many test cases before this, the files in /boot are too far up the drive for Grub to read.

Creating a dedicated /boot partition before the ESP partition has resolved this.

This is the same issue as documented here: (according to https://carteryagemann.com/blog/102015-boot-partition.amp.html)

What I don't understand however, is that from my understanding, under UEFI the full 4.5TB should be readable. Ubuntu should boot fine under it's default partition layout with only and ESP partition?

This is confirmed as I've managed to install Ubuntu without a /boot partition on 3 other identical hardware and bios settings servers. It's just this one server which couldn't read inside some of /boot.a

I've ensured the disk was booting under UEFI in the BIOS.

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