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The wiki is being retired!

Documentation is now handled by the same processes we use for code: Add something to the Documentation/ directory in the coreboot repo, and it will be rendered to Contributions welcome!

GRUB 2 is a modular, multiboot-capable bootloader for many operating systems that can be used as a payload for coreboot.


GRUB 2 can be launched:

  • Directly by coreboot as a payload
  • Directly by SeaBIOS as a payload
  • By SeaBIOS, on disk, as it would with a normal BIOS.

Recent bzr versions have improved memory management that removes the memory limitations when ran as a payload.



signed kernels

GRUB is capable of running only trusted(signed) kernels.

  • it supports only DSA gpg keys

Here's a little howto.

First generate a key:

$ gpg --gen-key
gpg (GnuPG) 2.0.19; Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Please select what kind of key you want:
   (1) RSA and RSA (default)
   (2) DSA and Elgamal
   (3) DSA (sign only)
   (4) RSA (sign only)
Your selection? 3
DSA keys may be between 1024 and 3072 bits long.
What keysize do you want? (2048) 3072
Requested keysize is 3072 bits
Please specify how long the key should be valid.
         0 = key does not expire
      <n>  = key expires in n days
      <n>w = key expires in n weeks
      <n>m = key expires in n months
      <n>y = key expires in n years
Key is valid for? (0) 
Key does not expire at all
Is this correct? (y/N) y

GnuPG needs to construct a user ID to identify your key.

Real name: Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli
Email address:
Comment: Kernel signing key
You selected this USER-ID:
    "Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli (Kernel signing key) <>"

Change (N)ame, (C)omment, (E)mail or (O)kay/(Q)uit? o
You need a Passphrase to protect your secret key.

We need to generate a lot of random bytes. It is a good idea to perform
some other action (type on the keyboard, move the mouse, utilize the
disks) during the prime generation; this gives the random number
generator a better chance to gain enough entropy.
gpg: WARNING: some OpenPGP programs can't handle a DSA key with this digest 
gpg: key C86D4C64 marked as ultimately trusted
public and secret key created and signed.

gpg: checking the trustdb
gpg: 3 marginal(s) needed, 1 complete(s) needed, PGP trust model
gpg: depth: 0  valid:   2  signed:   0  trust: 0-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 0f, 2u
pub   3072D/C86D4C64 2013-03-13
      Key fingerprint = 7244 AC33 F9A7 9AE8 30DE  8996 9097 B48D C86D 4C64
uid                  Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli (Kernel signing key) 

Note that this key cannot be used for encryption.  You may want to use
the command "--edit-key" to generate a subkey for this purpose.

Then sign the kernels and initramfs:

cd /boot
sudo -E gpg --detach-sign vmlinuz-linux-libre-pae
sudo -E gpg --detach-sign initramfs-linux-libre-pae.img
gpg --export  > boot.key

Then you can put the key on the memdisk (advised) or the boot partition for test purposes only. Then in GRUB do (for testing purposes):

trust boot.key
set check_signatures=enforce

to only boot correctly signed kernels and initramfs...

Then load kernel and initramfs as usual...

Trisquel, Ubuntu, Debian

We want automatics hooks to sign our kernel so we don't have to do it manually each time... The following howto was tested on trisquel 6 Generate the key as root(sudo su) like we just explained, but without a password In debian based distributions you can hook the kernel build to sign the result: Add the following to /etc/kernel/postinst.d/yy-update-signatures

#! /bin/sh
set -e


gpg --detach-sign /boot/vmlinuz-${version}
gpg --detach-sign /boot/initrd.img-${version}

Then do:

chmod +x /etc/kernel/postinst.d/yy-update-signatures

Then do:

gpg --export  > /boot/boot.key

Then modify /etc/grub.d/10_linux to use bash instead of sh like that:

#! /bin/bash

And also modify to that:

 case x`uname -m` in
     xi?86 | xx86_64)
 	list=`for i in /boot/vmlinuz-* /vmlinuz-* /boot/kernel-* ; do
                   if grub_file_is_not_garbage "$i" ; then echo -n "$i " ; fi
               done` ;;
 	list=`for i in /boot/vmlinuz-* /boot/vmlinux-* /vmlinuz-* /vmlinux-* /boot/kernel-* ; do
                   if grub_file_is_not_garbage "$i" ; then echo -n "$i " ; fi
 	     done` ;;

To look like that:

 case x`uname -m` in
     xi?86 | xx86_64)
 	list=`for i in /boot/vmlinuz-* /vmlinuz-* /boot/kernel-* ; do
                   if [[ "$i" != /boot/*.sig ]] ; then 
                       if grub_file_is_not_garbage "$i" ; then echo -n "$i " ; fi
               done` ;;
 	list=`for i in /boot/vmlinuz-* /boot/vmlinux-* /vmlinuz-* /vmlinux-* /boot/kernel-* ; do
                   if grub_file_is_not_garbage "$i" ; then echo -n "$i " ; fi
 	     done` ;;

LUKS disks openning

GRUB is capable of opening LUKS disks like that:

grub> ls 
(ata2) (ata2,msdos3) (ata2,msdos2) (ata2,msdos1) (usb0) (usb0,msdos1) (ata6) (memdisk)
grub> cryptomount (ata2,msdos3)
Attempting to decrypt master key...
Enter passphrase for ata2,msdos3 (431439b0870f40a3bfe8f3ca3aa7072a):
Slot 0 opened
grub> ls
(crypto0) (ata2) (ata2,msdos3) (ata2,msdos2) (ata2,msdos1) (usb0) (usb0,msdos1) (ata6) (memdisk) 
grub> set root=crypto0
grub> ls /
lost+found/ boot/ var/ dev/ run/ etc/ tmp/ sys/ proc/ usr/ lib/ sbin/ bin/ home/ mnt/ opt/ root/ srv/ media/

Note that you have to type the password and so it's better to have some kind of output (VGA, Serial etc...)

Other features

SeaBIOS launching

GRUB is capable of launching SeaBIOS like that: Add SeaBIOS to the memdisk:

tar uvf ../memdisk.tar ../../seabios/out/bios.bin.elf --transform 's#.*#/bios.bin.elf#'

Then add that to grub.cfg:

menuentry 'SeaBIOS' {
	set root='memdisk'
	echo    'Loading SeaBIOS ...'
	chainloader /bios.bin.elf



To enable serial, add the following on top of your grub.cfg:

serial --speed=115200 --unit=0 --word=8 --parity=no --stop=1
terminal_input --append  serial
terminal_output --append serial

Other things

Append that in your configuration:

terminal_input --append at_keyboard #add keyboard support.
#set timeout=1 #you may want to set a timeout
#set pager=1 # you may want to use the pager or not
play 480 440 1 #play a beep at startup
set prefix=(memdisk)/boot/grub

In case of native graphics you may want the following:

terminal_output --append gfxterm


Here is how to load the SeaBIOS payload from the memdisk.

menuentry 'SeaBios' {
	set root='memdisk'
	echo    'Loading SeaBios ...'
	chainloader /bios.bin.elf

see in "creating the GRUB payload" how to include the file in the memdisk...

Scanning for grub.cfg on local Hard Drives.

menuentry 'Scan for OS on internal HDD' {
	insmod regexp
	insmod ahci
	insmod part_msdos
	for x in (ahci0,*) ; do
		if [ -f "$x/grub/grub.cfg" ] ; then
			menuentry "Load Config from $x" $x { 
				configfile /grub/grub.cfg
		if [ -f "$x/boot/grub/grub.cfg" ] ; then
			menuentry "Load Config from $x" $x {
				configfile /boot/grub/grub.cfg


bzr branch
cd grub
./configure --with-platform=coreboot
sudo make install #install the uttilities

creating the GRUB payload

Create a target directory:

mkdir memdisk

Then copy your grub.cfg in:


Then adapt and run that script:

rm -f grub2-x60.elf
#copy the payloads you want
cp ../../seabios-x60/out/bios.bin.elf ./memdisk/
cp ../../coreboot-qemu/payloads/nvramcui/nvramcui.elf ./memdisk/
cp ../../coreboot-x60/payloads/coreinfo/build/coreinfo.elf ./memdisk/
cp ../../memtest86+-4.20/memtest ./memdisk/memtest.elf
#and some files
cp ../../coreboot-x60/bootsplash.jpg  ./memdisk/
cd memdisk
grub-mkstandalone -O i386-coreboot -o ../grub2-x60.elf $(find -type f)
echo "--RESULT--"
ls -l -h ../grub2-x60.elf

combining with coreboot

As a SeaBIOS payload

build/cbfstool build/coreboot.rom add-payload -n img/grub2 -f grub2.elf -t raw
build/cbfstool build/coreboot.rom print

That way it will be possible to run GRUB as a payload after SeaBIOS: The advantage is that it's less risky. At runtime press F12 and you'll have the GRUB option.

As a Coreboot payload

Advantages: faster, can be used for security

Disadvantages: more risky if you have no way to recover


In make menuconfig of coreboot, select the path of grub2.elf.

Also make sure you have some kinds of output such as VGA or serial (it needs to be activated in both coreboot and GRUB)

Before flashing

You should try the grub2.elf on qemu before flashing it to a real mainboard/laptop.