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paradigm-X
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:19 pm    Post subject: Booting from ExpressCard connection Reply with quote

I have a laptop with an Express Card slot, in which I have inserted a card that hosts a two-port USB3 device, specifically, the device shown here:

http://www.startech.com/Cards-Adapters/USB-3.0/Cards/2-Port-ExpressCard-SuperSpeed-USB-3-Card-Adapter~ECUSB3S22


On that website it mentions that the card utilizes technology compatible with Linux, i.e., "UASP is supported in Windows® 8, Server 2012 and Linux kernel 2.6.3 or later." Indeed, when I have a USB drive attached to it while Gentoo is running, I can see the drive fine. However, I have not been able to get it to boot a Linux kernel.

My laptop's BIOS allows me to choose from a number of attached devices to select a boot device. Among the options is included USB but not express card slot. I have Gentoo installed on an SSD drive inside a USB3 enclosure, which I can attached either directly to a USB port on the laptop or to the above USB3 card adapter in the slot. It appears not to be recognized at all when I try to boot from it although this very same enclosure and disk boot perfectly when I attach it directly to a USB port instead of this adapter. Again, once Linux has booted somehow, then the drives attached to this adapter can be seen fine, but during boot it does not work.

I am not 100% certain, but I suppose the laptop's BIOS does not see this express card slot as a viable, bootable port, regardless of the presence of a USB adapter in it. I do not think that is unchangeable. Even so, I was wondering whether it would be possible to get it to boot indirectly in some way, possibly through a chain loading method.

Right now I have the SSD disk set up to boot and run Gentoo, and it works, as I mentioned above, but only when the device is directlya ttached. Is there a way without making any changes to this drive itself, to boot to Grub installed elsewhere, say, on a small flash drive directly attached to a USB port, and then chainload to this drive? Or does the fact that this machine's BIOS does not recognize the express-card port as bootable preclude indirectly booting from it via a chainloading method?
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Roman_Gruber
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay.

First. I think there is some misunderstanding about a bootloader itself or grub.

In the bios you set where which bootpartition should be used, the mbr. Whcih loads than some piece of software which later loads grub itself.
When grub is loaded it is only a matter of loaded modules and boot parameters to boot from that drive. Wheter it is internal or external as long it is visible to grub. It does not matter about the bios itself because at this point grub already handles everything.

The bios itself is only responsible to fire up and run the mbr of your selected bootable drive selected in your bios. what code is placed in your mbr is up to you, if its grub or something else.

I tried to explain it in my words, it is simplified. Of course there are more bells and whistles involved.

Short: When grub has the appropriate module loaded to see your drive, wherever it is on whatever connection, and you have the right paramter line in your grub config you should be load your operationg system on that peripheral card than.

I doubt you will be able to put grub on that peripheral card, you could only do that if the bios sees that peripheral as bootable drive.

I assume you will need a boot parition with grub on one of your internal supported bios drives (which are selectable in your bios). When grub is loaded than you should be able with the appropriate modules loaded to load your operating system on that peripheral.

When I talk about grub, I talk about grub 2.
When I talk about bios, I talk about the old bios not the new uefi bios.

I highly recommend to read about the function principle of a bootloader, how to load grub2 modules and check the net for examples. There are plenty as basically any grub tutorial for any gnu/linux apply for your question.

You may also check when you have booted your box if your express card has implemented drive via pci or usb, as these cards can utilize both and it is up to the vendor of the card which peripheral lines he utilize.

Quote:

My laptop's BIOS allows me to choose from a number of attached devices to select a boot device. Among the options is included USB but not express card slot. I have Gentoo installed on an SSD drive inside a USB3 enclosure, which I can attached either directly to a USB port on the laptop or to the above USB3 card adapter in the slot. It appears not to be recognized at all when I try to boot from it although this very same enclosure and disk boot perfectly when I attach it directly to a USB port instead of this adapter.

Well when you load the appropriate module than you should be able to see that external drive. A bios update may help but I recommend you to make a boot partition on one of your internal drives to place the grub bootloader there.


Last edited by Roman_Gruber on Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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paradigm-X
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

> "In the bios you set where which bootpartition should be used, the mbr. Whcih loads than some piece of software which later loads grub itself. "

Maybe I did not explain it well enough in translation, but I think we may be talking about two different kinds of BIOS because this machine's BIOS has nothing in it whatsoever to let me "set which boot partition should be used" during boot, or any other partition. As I tried to convey, it identifies only hardware devices, i.e., data ports, for which it will seek such partitions in the boot process.

However, I think you may have gotten my point regardless because it sounds like you think what I was hoping could be done will probably work in the way I want.

> "When I talk about grub, I talk about grub 2."

Just to be clear, are you saying that I should not try to chainload with Grub legacy in this case? It seems like what I read suggested otherwise, but I may not have researched it as thoroughly as you.
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augury
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have a disk that you can select in bios, grub can put the booting mechanism onto it such that it points to the USB express disk. Altering the number of disks may cause substantial inconstancies as the booting mechanism is all of about 1 kilobite (there is an ancient specification for the size) and sits on an inconspicuous location of the disk. If you have the grub stage 1 and grub stage 2 (where you get the menu) on a non-removable, the disk can be referenced by other means, including finding it manually. It's not something you would want to change frequently.

Do you have Phoenix bios? It's breve but far from "express". You should try some bios that makes walk away for a while. Stuff loads.
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augury
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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augury
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You laptop is equipped with dongle port but not USB? Is it color?
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paradigm-X
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

> " If you have the grub stage 1 and grub stage 2 (where you get the menu) on a non-removable, the disk can be referenced by other means, including finding it manually. It's not something you would want to change frequently."

This idea of "finding it manually" is interesting to me. I would have no objection to needing to select the device or even having to type in something at boot-time on a command line in order to make Grub select the USB device attached to the express card slot.

I think this dialogue has shifted from the topic of installing to booting, and I am going to open a new thread in the kernel section related to "booting from express card device", as that seems to be the proper place for it.
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