Grub2 – multiple OS – menu display

I guess it’s progress. There was a time when I used to have machines configured so that, if on boot, I held the shift-key down, I got a menu for multiple boot choices on a dual-boot PC.

So let’s just spell that out.

On a dual boot PC, what I want to do is be able to access the grub menu on boot, if I feel like it. And if I don’t, I just want it to silently boot the default OS.

9 times out of 10 I want my PC to just boot up the default OS without questions. And if I want to interrupt the boot and get the grub menu, I want to be able to do that. It’s not much to ask.

That’s it. That’s all I want. Used to be able to do it. Now I can’t. I’ve just spent a couple of “surely I’m missing something really obvious” hours looking for the tweak, the variable, the switch to do this. And I don’t think you can. Can you?

I have had the hilarious pleasure of setting


in /etc/default/grub. Certainly not one of my better ideas, but nice to know I’m not the only one. I needed a visit to unetbootin to create a bootable usb drive to fix things. Even that was a bit inelegant, involving as it did directly editing /boot/grub/grub.cfg on the root partition, then rebooting, then ‘doing it properly’ by editing /etc/default/grub and running update-grub.

So all I want is to have the machine quietly booting into Windows7 by default, and if I choose otherwise, allow me to interrupt the boot and get the grub menu. I use to do this in LILO, and I’m sure it used to be possible in GRUB. Now I’m not so sure.

I’ve even tried step 11 of the GRUB2 tweaks, and that did something. It hid the menu altogether. Not what I’m after. And I’m wary of hacking config files too much, secure in the knowledge that they have a habit of getting unhacked on upgrades.

So I’ll give up on this one.