GRUB loading stage 1.5 GRUB loading, please wait

After an unusually long power outage (more than 1 hour which was longer than our UPSes could manage) our company main file server running Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid LTS has been down for two weeks in a row, with multiple issues with broken HDDs, corrupted RAID arrays etc, but one problem is that the computer doesn’t even boot normally (or at all). After fixing some other boot problems, I got stuck to this Grub error message:

GRUB loading stage 1.5
GRUB loading, please wait…

For a note, this is a distinct error message displaying no error code.

Grub seems to have plenty of different kinds of error messages, but the Gentoo Wiki has managed to make a good summary of them all. The same problem has tormented other distros such as Redhat and PCLinuxOS, too.

I tried out the usual tricks, such as running grub-install, update-grub, then grub

root (hd0,0)
setup (hd0)

but nothing seemed to work. Finally I started to rip the 10+ hard disk cables out one-by-one, and after taking out all SATA drives I was left with one PATA/IDE drive only. For a note, the server is actually a dual-Pentium3 with Abit VP6 and an old BIOS capable to detect only small PATA drives, the 1.5TB – 2TB drivers are way too big for the old 32bit BIOS to manage 🙂

Suddenly when there was only one drive left, the grub menu appeared and the error went away!

It seems that the problem was caused by the SiI3512A SATA Raid -controller card. The system had three SATA controller expansion cards, 2x 4-port Promise and 1x 2-port SiI3512A -card. After plugging the cables off the SiI3512A -controller, the system didn’t anymore try to boot from the SATA disks (which the BIOS can’t comprehend), but from the old PATA-drive.

Another option could have been to wipe grub away from the two SATA disks that were connected to the SiI3512A, but since there were empty slots available on the Promise-cards, I just took away the semi-working card. It was an miracle, that the BIOS had detected Grub on the SATA disks, but in the end it just caused a very difficult to fix problem, so I’d rather had just a non-booting SATA controller card instead.

Anyway, at least the boot problem was solved.