[CentOS] Centos5 install failure

Wed Nov 7 03:59:40 UTC 2007
John Thompson <john at vector.os2.dhs.org>

A couple weeks ago I attempted to install Centos5 to replace an 
increasingly decripit Fedora Core 1 installation. Centos went onto an 
80GB piece of previously unallocated space on /dev/hda, using the 
default configuration offered by anaconda. The installation process went 
smoothly, however, I was unable to boot Centos when it completed due to 
"Grub failure." IOW, I never even got the boot loader to come up. I've 
never been a big fan of grub (I've always used lilo) and this hasn't 
impressed me. I was able to restore Fedora's lilo loader but I cannot 
persuade lilo to boot Centos, probably because the / filesystem is using 
LVM which I am not familiar with. It failed with a kernel panic trying 
to find things in /dev.

I put it on the back shelf for a couple weeks and finally got back to it 
today. I wiped hda to give it a fresh base on which to install, and it 
installed fine once again -- no errors. But on reboot grub failed once 
again, getting as far as GRUB and then locking up, responding only to 
the RESET button. So I created a bootable grub CD and booted from that, 
fed it the Centos kernel and initrd and booted. 

Lots of "missing module" errors because (as it turns out) the Centos
installer neglected to create the proper module tree in /lib/modules.
But there was one for the xen kernel. WTF, I'll try that. Boot again and
tried to tell grub to load the xen kernel: "invalid file format."

Whatever. Booted the regular kernel and initrd again, gritting my teeth 
through all the errors and created a sym-link from the xen module tree
to what should be the regular module tree. Rebooted again with the
regular kernel and initrd. Fewer error messages this time, but still a
fair number. I just wanted to get to the point were I could repair the
missing modules.  

So the system comes up -- sort of. The modules that still couldn't load 
turned out to include those for my network card, so no network access. 
Nor could I mount any cds or the xfs file system on the raid array. 
Useless. Just frickin' useless. My low opinion of grub remains 
unchanged, and my opinion of Centos is following in the same
direction. I spent the rest of the afternoon restoring Fedora off my 
backup tapes.

Any clues what I did wrong?


John (john at os2.dhs.org)