Installation woes, and issues with grub and slow boot times

Ok, let me begin by explaining this is not a rant at Zorin and is more about me being frustrated at the horrible experience I've had getting Zorin OS 17 Pro up and running on my machine, and just wanting some general help and advice as to what may be going on.

I also hold my hand up and admit that it's likely something I have done incorrectly, or something about my hardware that Zorin 17 just didn't like or even potential hardware issues I have yet to discover.

I am a bit of a distro hopper, and have jumped around here and there for many years. I tended to prefer bleeding edge or rolling distros, but have decided recently that I would install Zorin and stick with that as my main operating system.

I would then have Nobara as secondary, and Windows 11 last. I recently purchased 2x2TB SK Hynix NVME drives which I added to the WD Black 2TB I already had, along with 2 Samsung 500GB sata ssd drives.

Wiped the lot, and split the WD Black between all three operating systems, using a quarter of the second NVME 2TB drives for a home partition, ad the rest of it for storage. This was just to get me going, as I thought I would plan something out a bit better later on.

I setup the Windows partitions how Windows likes to have them, then split the rest between Zorin and Nobara. Used btrfs for Nobara, and EXT4 for Zorin. All booted just fine, and I spent HOURS setting up each how I wanted them.

The next day, booted into Windows, did some work there and then booted into Nobara. Ran its updates, then played a couple of games before attempting to boot into Zorin to start getting more familiar with it. To be met with the grub command line. After some investigation, I found that the grub configuration had somehow got messed up (still dont really know what happened, but when I rebooted into Nobara I had the Zorin bootloader with a mix of both bootloader entries).

Second attempt, cleared everything again, but this time kept Zorin on the main drive, and let it have the whole drive, then on the second drive installed Windows and Nobara, along with a partition for home again. Installed all of them but didnt start setting any of them up, just updated and got them running. Seemed fine for a few reboots, going between. Then Zorin failed to boot again but got stuck on the Zorin logo. Managed to go to a vt, got logged in to find loads of issues, caused by permissions. When looking at the root partition, my user was now owner of most of the subdirectories, with root only showing here and there. I have zero idea how that could happen and I knew there was no easy way to reset permissions to default. Plus it would likely cause issues elsewhere, so I started again.

As Windows and Nobara had no real issues through any of this, and I was having problems with Zorin staying installed and stable i put Nobara on the main partion, using half of the space. I then put Windows on the second partition, again using only half of the space. Then installed ZorinOS using ZFS and allowed it to use the whole of one of the Sata SSDs.

No issues with Windows and Nobara - however when I was installing Zorin I asked it to use the Sata SSD for installation so assumed it would create and use an EFI on the same disk. Nope. It threw some bootfiles on to the Windows EFI and after installation and reboot - failed to boot. To be honest, this time arounf I was really tired and forget what the error was this time so gave up on it for the evening.

Following day, I re-downloaded the ZorinOS 17 Pro ISO, checked it this time (yes I should have done that with the first one) and it checked out fine. I then wiped the Sata SSD, and installs Zorin again using a standard linux partition layout and EXT4. didn't use a shared home, keeping all the operating systems separated. .

Again I got met with the grub command prompt issue, so I then reinstalled on the SECOND Sata SSD, same layout and as we speak it's working. After launching it for the first time, then updating and rebooting I then noticed the grub menu wasnt coming up anymore and it was pretty much going straight into Zorin.

Edited /etc/default/grub, ran update-grub and rebooted. Zero change. And thats where I am right now.

I have noticed on recent linux versions, that the boot time on this machine has gone abysmal. Don't know if its related with the issues I had above, so mentioning here in case it sheds any light.

So a normal boot for me would be BIOS OEM Logo, followed by the same logo with the distribution logo underneath or similar followed by grub and then the login screen. All this is normally fluid, and up within a minute if that.

Now - I get OEM Logo, black screen, logo again with distribution splash/logo (longish pause), black screen, (LONG pause), followed by grub screen, long pause then splash/login. Taking what feels like 3-4 minutes, so very noticeable to me.

Only things I have changed that may be causing issues is the recent addition of a Thunderbolt 3 card, and the 2 new nvmes. I have booted from an older popOS live cd, and that seemed pretty rapid but then with more up to date versions of distro live cds it goes back to being a slow boot process.

So what I'm after is some idea as to why I had so many issues getting here (I'm guessing I COULD have had a bad iso initially) and help with the correct way to handle grub in Zorin and maybe look at the boot time thing. And of course to say hi to this community at last!

Here is a shot of NeoFetch:

Cheers for listening to this lengthy technical frustration offload!

You certainly have grounds for frustration after all of that.
Maybe we can help with a few tips or adjustments.

ZFS is tricky and I would not recommend it except when it is exclusive and necessary.

Instead, use EXT4 for your Zorin OS partition or drive. ZFS can be used with Zorin, but reducing anything that may be adding to your frustration may be the better option.

Ensure that Windows Fully Shuts Down. Windows can hibernate instead of actually shutting down, resulting in it retaining control over some of the hardware. This can cause you grief on any GnuLinux distro.

Are you using Secure Boot (Since you have Windows 11)?

On Windows OS in Control Panel > Power - are you using Fast Boot / Fast Startup?

If Zorin OS gives you the same trouble you had in your first attempt, try using Grub Repair instead of a reinstall.

If re-installing: Reinstalling without a full wipe (On either Nobara or on Zorin) can result in some files being retained instead of overwritten.
Wiping the drive takes a little longer, but it takes less time than pulling hair out.

Run a S.M.A.R.T. test on your drive to check for bad sectors or blocks - Run a memtest on your RAM to test that. I realize that this is a stretch... But better to test and know.

AMD Radeon: I wonder if upgrading your kernel to 6.6.5 immediately after installing Zorin may help.

Ensure the kernel is signed if using Secure Boot.

One last point:
We are very happy to offer all the help we can here in the community forums. But as a Zorin OS Pro user, you also have the option of contacting the ZorinGroup for Installation Support directly.
Since you will end placed waiting in line with other user reports ahead of you, pleased be patient for their response.
You can include a link to your post in this thread to be helpful.

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Wasn't any reason for me choosing that, I just thought I'd give it a try but I will stick with the standards for now.

Other than Nobara where I use btrfs, I tend to use EXT4 mostly anyway. Btrfs for my steam game drive too.

This is always off on my machines, with the exception of the Surface Pro which I use for work. Windows 11 still works fine without it on my other machines. That did remind me though that although Secure Boot is off in the BIOS I hadn't checked settings in Windows. I'll do that now.

Not a fan of Grub Repair, and prefer to have a go at fixing things myself. Fairly familiar with the process of removing/reinstalling grub as a rule, but I'll certainly give it a shot in future. I didn't go into ALL the detail in my post as to what I did but I always try and fix things before doing a reinstall where I can and when I have the time lol.

Each time I reinstalled, I wiped all hard drives completely. Wiped the gpt structures etc and rebuilt. And agreed on the pulling of hair out :slight_smile:

I've ran Samsung Magician and SK Hynix software, with no errors reported in that or SMART that I can see. I haven't ran memtest, but didn't really dawn on me to do that considering windows and the other linux distro seem to work with no issues. But memory is a fickle mistress, so I'll run a test on it tomorrow, and bad block checks on the drives tonight.

That's a good suggestion. I'll give that a go shortly.

I am writing this on the 'currently' working Zorin, but just trying to figure out why Grub is being obstinate. And these awful boot times (which aren't Zorin specific).

I'd forgotten about the support thing - I will bear that in mind. But this was also a way of me getting started on the forum too :slight_smile:

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So... a small update on what I found regarding grub and the menu suddenly not showing up AND possibly affecting the startup time by 5 seconds.

In the /etc/default directory, there is a file called grub. If you want to make changes to grub, you do them here and then run the update-grub command.

Now after my initial install, I saw the boot menu correctly with the nice Zorin themed menu. I then did software updates and rebooted to find that the menu no longer appeared.

I then edited the file, adding in a timeout of 5 seconds and setting gfxmode to match my display resolution. I then ran the update-grub command and rebooted. Of course, no change.

Below is the /etc/default/grub file with the commented lines and spacing removed for brevity:

GRUB_DEFAULT=0
GRUB_TIMEOUT_STYLE=menu
GRUB_TIMEOUT=5
GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=""

GRUB_GFXMODE=3440x1440
GRUB_THEME=/usr/share/grub/themes/zorin/theme.txt

Now the only changes I made to the file from how it came by default from fresh install was changing the timeout value to 5, and uncommenting the gfxmode line and adding my monitor resolution to it.

What I missed however was the timeout_style option. I saw it, but assumed it meant hide the timeout counter, not the entire menu screen. After looking up what it was, I realised I had to change that to menu rather than hidden.

Ran update-grub again, and I now have the menu coming up correctly.

So if that file comes like that by default, when an incoming update forces an update to grub, this is likely to happen on other peoples systems potentially too.
And when that option is set to hidden, the count still goes on, adding to the boot time and a blank screen.

Now to the lengthy boot times.

Current NeoFetch:

Output from systemd-analyze:

Startup finished in 13.711s (firmware) + 38.585s (loader) + 8.707s (kernel) + 7.874s (userspace) = 1min 8.878s 
graphical.target reached after 7.852s in userspace

And the top 5 lines from systemd-analyze blame:

6.386s NetworkManager-wait-online.service
5.672s plymouth-quit-wait.service
 820ms fwupd.service
 659ms dev-sdb3.device
 291ms e2scrub_reap.service

Had a look through dmesg/system.log/journalctl and can't see anything that immediately sticks out but if anyone wants them I could paste them somewhere.

This is odd, actually.
The style can be set to Menu or to hidden. If Zorin OS is the only installed OS, then this will take affect either showing the menu at every boot or leaving it hidden.
This style is over ridden however should you have Zorin booting alongside of another OS.
The OS-Prober runs during init, which will override the grub file if another OS is present and always show the menu.
You can see this in /etc/grub.d/30_os-prober:

found_other_os=

adjust_timeout () {
  if [ "$quick_boot" = 1 ] && [ "x${found_other_os}" != "x" ]; then
    cat << EOF
set timeout_style=menu
if [ "\${timeout}" = 0 ]; then
  set timeout=10
fi
EOF
  fi

This can be safely disabled on Zorin OS since it is for server use, not personal use:

sudo systemctl disable NetworkManager-wait-online.service

Doing that above can shave some time off of boot time.

The rest, however, cannot. Plymouth is essential for boot, for example. Also, those times are the times when reached, not the times that they take to init.

If you do not use Snap Packages, you can also disable or remove SnapD to increase boot time.

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Even more strange is that currently I DO have another OS - Windows 11 on another drive.

Every time I reinstalled Zorin, I added the option in /etc/default/grub to disable it as I prefer to keep each OS to itself.

However on this last install, I hadn't done it but it appears to be off, looking at the output of update-grub. Which makes it even stranger.

Done, thanks for that.

Do NOT plan on using snaps at all if I can get away with it but I wasn't sure if Zorin have preinstalled some already. I will leave that for now and revisit after I have a look and see what snaps are installed.

As a side note, I don't know if its just me but seems a little snappier (no pun intended) with this kernel.

Also rebooted a few times and been tinkering and nothing has fallen over yet. Going to reinstall Nobara tomorrow and see if it goes downhill from there, so wish me luck!

Cheers for the help so far with this by the way, it's very much appreciated.

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Zorin OS does not include any Snap packages on install.
Zorin OS users can install Snap packages if they prefer. Snapd is included on install, but no Snaps.
Zorin OS 17 is the first edition that includes a non-standard application format: Firefox on Zorin OS 17 is a Flatpak.
Zorin OS does include the Zorin Themes as flatpaks; but this is just in case a user opts to install any Flatpak packages.

Good Luck officially wished for. But if the fates decide to meddle in your affairs, the forum will still be here.

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Good to know on the Snaps and Flatpak front. I prefer the latter to the former it has to be said. :o)

Well I decided to install Nobara now, and so far everything has gone smoothly. Zorin is still booting fine, and not seeing any issues.

I have Linux Filesystem for Windows installed on the windows side, and thats always set to read only for all volumes its supports. And once I installed Nobara, I created some rules for udisks2 to tell it that when and if someone or something tries to mount the Zorin volumes, they should only ever beopened read only. Works like a charm.

I'd had an error on one of the install attempts after I had used Nobara to format the partitions - Zorin basically stated the ext format on the drive had extra 'features' it didnt support. So ended up formatting partitons for each system using their own installers to do so, but did the udisks trick just in case it was that which had given me headaches earlier.

I dont need write access for them anyway, but it is handy to be able to get to files I may have put there, and I have another Storage area I can use which I share between the OSes.

Goodness knows which reply on here I am going to mark as the answer - don't suppose I can mark more than one lol? Plus give myself praise for getting one of my issues kind of resolved?

A problem for later, I am definitely off for some shuteye now.
Regards, and thanks again @Aravisian .

Many do; I avoid them both, really.

I have no suggestions... Whichever post you feel provides the first working solution is what I usually go with.
The purpose behind marked solutions is that it creates a direct link to that solution in the O.P. that other users searching for a solution can follow.

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I do mostly, but flatpaks are beginning to grow on me.

And I picked your reply that included information about slow boot as well as information about grub as the solution.

And finally - ram and storage drives checked out, no issues there. So nicely wrapped up now until the next crisis.

Thanks again for your help.

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