This is mostly a repost of my ubuntu-devel mail for a wider audience, but see below for some additions.

I’d like to upgrade to GRUB 2.02 for Ubuntu 14.04; it’s currently in beta. This represents a year and a half of upstream development, and contains many new features, which you can see in the NEWS file.

Obviously I want to be very careful with substantial upgrades to the default boot loader. So, I’ve put this in trusty-proposed, and filed a blocking bug to ensure that it doesn’t reach trusty proper until it’s had a reasonable amount of manual testing. If you are already using trusty and have some time to try this out, it would be very helpful to me. I suggest that you only attempt this if you’re comfortable driving apt-get directly and recovering from errors at that level, and if you’re willing to spend time working with me on narrowing down any problems that arise.

Please ensure that you have rescue media to hand before starting testing. The simplest way to upgrade is to enable trusty-proposed, upgrade ONLY packages whose names start with “grub” (e.g. use apt-get dist-upgrade to show the full list, say no to the upgrade, and then pass all the relevant package names to apt-get install), and then (very important!) disable trusty-proposed again. Provided that there were no errors in this process, you should be safe to reboot. If there were errors, you should be able to downgrade back to 2.00-22 (or 1.27+2.00-22 in the case of grub-efi-amd64-signed).

Please report your experiences (positive and negative) with this upgrade in the tracking bug. I’m particularly interested in systems that are complex in any way: UEFI Secure Boot, non-trivial disk setups, manual configuration, that kind of thing. If any of the problems you see are also ones you saw with earlier versions of GRUB, please identify those clearly, as I want to prioritise handling regressions over anything else. I’ve assigned myself to that bug to ensure that messages to it are filtered directly into my inbox.

I’ll add a couple of things that weren’t in my ubuntu-devel mail. Firstly, this is all in Debian experimental as well (I do all the work in Debian and sync it across, so the grub2 source package in Ubuntu is a verbatim copy of the one in Debian these days). There are some configuration differences applied at build time, but a large fraction of test cases will apply equally well to both. I don’t have a definite schedule for pushing this into jessie yet - I only just finished getting 2.00 in place there, and the release schedule gives me a bit more time - but I certainly want to ship jessie with 2.02 or newer, and any test feedback would be welcome. It’s probably best to just e-mail feedback to me directly for now, or to the pkg-grub-devel list.

Secondly, a couple of news sites have picked this up and run it as “Canonical intends to ship Ubuntu 14.04 LTS with a beta version of GRUB”. This isn’t in fact my intent at all. I’m doing this now because I think GRUB 2.02 will be ready in non-beta form in time for Ubuntu 14.04, and indeed that putting it in our development release will help to stabilise it; I’m an upstream GRUB developer too and I find the exposure of widely-used packages very helpful in that context. It will certainly be much easier to upgrade to a beta now and a final release later than it would be to try to jump from 2.00 to 2.02 in a month or two’s time.

Even if there’s some unforeseen delay and 2.02 isn’t released in time, though, I think nearly three months of stabilisation is still plenty to yield a boot loader that I’m comfortable with shipping in an LTS. I’ve been backporting a lot of changes to 2.00 and even 1.99, and, as ever for an actively-developed codebase, it gets harder and harder over time (in particular, I’ve spent longer than I’d like hunting down and backporting fixes for non-512-byte sector disks). While I can still manage it, I don’t want to be supporting 2.00 for five more years after upstream has moved on; I don’t think that would be in anyone’s best interests. And I definitely want some of the new features which aren’t sensibly backportable, such as several of the new platforms (ARM, ARM64, Xen) and various networking improvements; I can imagine a number of our users being interested in things like optional signature verification of files GRUB reads from disk, improved Mac support, and the TrueCrypt ISO loader, just to name a few. This should be a much stronger base for five-year support.