Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

May 6th, 2011:

Lazarus, Stay Where You Are!

…because when you came forth, you stepped on my bootloader.

I’ve tried to like Lazarus. I’ve tried for years. I can only assume that (as also evidenced by its similarly screwy cousin, Kylix) there is something in the Linux platform that makes Pascal compilers go a little bit whacko.

A few days ago I installed the KDE Fedora Spin in a new partition on my Linux box. It’s been a good education in the Plasma desktop. Plasma is all very blue and cold looking (way too blue for me, in fact, though the default wallpaper is striking) but unlike my first taste or two of KDE 4, it actually works.

So I started installing the software I’m familiar with to begin using it, and somewhere down the list was Lazarus, the Delphi-ish GUI front end for FreePascal. The package available from Fedora was V0.9.28.2, which is considerably newer than the one I have installed on Ubuntu Lucid, and only a little older than the one you can get from the project Web site. After it downloaded and installed all of its enormous pile of stuff, it asked me to restart Linux. I did.

And grub failed to run.

All I got was a blinking text cursor in the upper-left corner of the screen. This is the first time I’ve ever seen grub fail, apart from the well-known habit of Windows to overwrite grub with its own bootloader. (This is why Windows goes in first, if you’re going to have it at all.) I booted the Ubuntu 11.04 live CD I’d burned a few days after it was released, just to see if my MBR had been damaged. As best I could tell it had not, but I’m not good enough at grub’s internals to really be able to tell what was wrong with the software itself. Since I had plenty of free space on the 750 GB drive, I just installed Ubuntu on yet another partition, hoping that its update of grub would put things right. And it did.

So why would installing a compiler and an IDE mess up the OS bootloader? (Anybody?) I don’t have a lot of clues. The copy of Lazarus I installed looks like it works as well as Lazarus ever does, so I can’t assume that something in the installer or the package glitched and overwrote something unrelated. None of the other partitions on the disk were affected, as best I can tell. I’m tempted to install Lazarus under Ubuntu, to see if it will stomp on Ubuntu’s copy of grub as well…but that will happen another day, when I’m not as busy and not so grouchy.