GRUB contains several features that make it preferable to other boot loaders available for the x86 architecture. Below is a partial list of some of the more important features:
GRUB provides a true command-based, pre-OS environment on x86 machines. This feature affords the user maximum flexibility in loading operating systems with specified options or gathering information about the system. For years, many non-x86 architectures have employed pre-OS environments that allow system booting from a command line.
GRUB supports Logical Block Addressing (LBA) mode. LBA places the addressing conversion used to find files in the hard drive's firmware, and is used on many IDE and all SCSI hard devices. Before LBA, boot loaders could encounter the 1024-cylinder BIOS limitation, where the BIOS could not find a file after the 1024 cylinder head of the disk. LBA support allows GRUB to boot operating systems from partitions beyond the 1024-cylinder limit, so long as the system BIOS supports LBA mode. Most modern BIOS revisions support LBA mode.
GRUB can read ext2 partitions.
This functionality allows GRUB to access its configuration file,
, every time the system boots, eliminating the need for the user to write a new version of the first stage boot loader to the MBR when configuration changes are made. The only time a user needs to reinstall GRUB on the MBR is if the physical location of the
partition is moved on the disk. For details on installing GRUB to the MBR, refer to Section 2.3, “Installing GRUB”