[syslinux] syslinux vs grub

Alexander Heinz mailsanmich at gmx.li
Fri Jan 7 05:13:37 PST 2005

> I personally dislike grub because of its monolithic design, and because 
> the grub people have traditionally been very difficult to deal with. Yet 
> it has achieved a remarkable adoption rate, and it's not clear whether 
> or not it's worth trying to capture that market (especially since these 
> are markets in which you don't get paid...!)
> In many ways Grub is like Windows; bloated, bad design, has the checkbox 
> features, most of them badly implemented, and enough pretty pictures 
> people think it's user friendly.  I don't want to turn syslinux into 
> that.  So I guess the megaquestion is...
> Is it worth bothering with going forward, or am I wasting my time?  If 
> so, what should I be focusing on?

I'm grateful to you for working on syslinux and especially on PXELinux.

Thanks to your latest improvements (simple menu system, multiple TFTP 
servers, NOESCAPE flag) PXELinux has all the functionality of 
PXEgrub/nbgrub and the configuration/installation is much simpler.

Ethersel (although you wrote it for syslinux) provides even more 
functionality: Using it with PXELinux and etherboot .zlilo images (with 
modified VCIs) enables me to build a boot menu for all PCI NICs in my 
network where I can choose between different DHCP servers (!) without 
having to deal with a list of MAC addresses or other complicated stuff.

PXELinux has the *very* big advantage, that is uses the UNDI stack (is 
that the proper term?) of PXE/Etherboot and does not need to be 
recompiled when new a type of NIC is added to network. Grub on the other 
hand has to be compiled with specific NIC support and becomes unstable, 
when support for a lot of NICs is compiled in.

Grub support for new NICs is only available via 3rd party patches and 
they are not integrated into Grub. Even if the Grub maintainer would 
accept the patches, PXEGrub's support for NICs would be limited to the 
ones supported by Etherboot (grub uses the etherboot drivers). PXELinux 
on the other hand does support every NIC that has a PXE rom and 
therefore will support every *upcoming* NIC with such a rom.

So when it comes to network booting PXELinux rules!


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