[syslinux] syslinux vs grub

Patrick J. LoPresti patl at users.sourceforge.net
Sat Jan 8 18:04:20 PST 2005

"H. Peter Anvin" <hpa at zytor.com> writes:

> Sorry about that, I've been a bit down in the dumps lately, in case
> it's not obvious.

You shouldn't be.  SYSLINUX/ISOLINUX/PXELINUX is a great tool used by
thousands (and probably millions) of people, even if most of them
don't know it.  Everyone who has anything to do with boot-time issues
knows that your work is excellent.  I think you should be proud!

> What I really mean is I'm still debating whether or not to develop
> syslinux further, whether or not I should develop it further but in
> a different direction, or take the project to maintenance-only mode.

You asked what it would take to replace GRUB.  For that, I do think
handling file systems other than FAT and ext2 is a requirement.  Last
I checked, SUSE still defaulted to reiserfs.  And I have seriously
considered moving my own systems to XFS.  If you do not want to code
support for each file system yourself (and I don't blame you), then I
would suggest providing some kind of framework where other motivated
hackers can add support for their favorite file systems.

File system "modules" was just an idea, as was the command-line stuff.
They would be useful for floppy boot disks, which I myself have found
handy once or twice.  But I could still use GRUB for that if my system
were normally booted by EXTLINUX (or XFSLINUX or whatever).

> In particular, I'm starting to seriously questioning the value of
> some of the advanced features I have on the drawing board (and in
> some cases, partially implemented) when built on top of the syslinux
> framework.  I don't want to spend a lot of time building those new
> features if they are ultimately useless.

Well, I guess it depends on what your goals are.  GRUB is certainly
ripe for replacement in a lot of ways, IMO.  It is bloated, the
maintainers are largely non-responsive, and the whole project is
pretty much stalled.  If you want to try to supplant it, I think you
will find lots of people rooting for you and wanting to help where we

 - Pat

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