rEFInd: A Modern and Customizable Boot Manager for Linux

Linux TLDR
Last Updated:
Reading time: 3 minutes

If you’ve dual-booted Linux with another operating system like Windows and are stuck with the traditional GRUB boot manager, it’s time to switch to rEFInd, IMMEDIATELY!

rEFInd: A Highly Customizable Boot Manager for Linux

rEFInd is a highly customizable and modern boot manager for UEFI and EFI-based machines. It has been around since 2012, yet only a few people are aware of it, despite its superiority over GRUB.

It has a lot of features, such as automatic OS detection, a customizable OS launch option, theme customization, graphical and text modes, support for secure boot, and many more.

I typically don’t tweak the boot manager for my machine, which is only running on a Linux system, and of course all my servers are on and off my homelab. However, for my personal systems or dual-booted ones, I immediately replace the standard boot manager with rEFInd.

This article shows you how to install rEFInd on your preferred Linux system and provides a usage guide.

Tutorial Details

DescriptionrEFInd
Difficulty LevelLow
Root or Sudo PrivilegesYes
OS CompatibilityUbuntu, Fedora, etc.
Prerequisites–
Internet RequiredYes (for installation)

How to Install and Replace GRUB with rEFInd on Linux

The steps for installing and replacing GRUB with rEFInd are quite easy; if you are running a Debian or Ubuntu-based distribution, then simply open your terminal and install rEFInd using the following apt command.

πŸ“
Prior to installation, make sure your system is running on x86, x86-64, or ARM64 architectures. Also, it does not support legacy boot (older BIOS) computers.
$ sudo apt install refind

If the above command is not found, you can add the rEFInd PPA and reexecute the above apt command, or you can also download and install the β€œ.deb” package for Ubuntu or Debian-based distros, or the β€œ.rpm” package for RedHat and Fedora-based distros from its official SourceForge page.

⚠️
If you are new to Linux, I wouldn’t recommend installing rEFInd from the β€œ.deb” or β€œ.rpm” package. However, if you still insist, make sure to back up your system, or else don’t complain to me later.

If you plan to install it from the distribution package, then once the file is downloaded, open your terminal and execute one of the following commands based on your Linux distribution to begin the installation.

# On Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Pop!_OS, etc.
$ sudo apt install ./refind-*.deb

# On RedHat, Fedora, AlmaLinux, OpenSUSE, etc.
$ sudo dnf install ./refind-*.rpm

The following rEFInd configuration screen may appear during installation and ask you to approve the installation of rEFInd on ESP. Simply click β€œYes” to continue.

refind ESP configuration screen

Wait for a few seconds until the process is complete, and once you see the following screen, it means you have successfully installed rEFInd on your Linux system.

refind final screen

You can now reboot your system from the menu or simply execute the β€œreboot” command.

First Interaction with rEFInd as Boot Manager

Once you reboot your system after installing rEFInd using the mentioned methods, you will interact with the following rEFInd screen rather than the old GRUB boot manager.

rEFInd screen

Currently, I only have two boot partitions: one is a Microsoft EFI boot from the EFI system partition, and the other is Ubuntu from the GRUB partition.

If you’ve incorrectly overlapped multiple OSs while attempting to reinstall, you might see them in this list. To avoid confusion, you can hide them by selecting each one and pressing the β€œDEL” key; this will prompt the following screen; simply click on β€œYes” to continue.

hiding boot partition in refind

In the future, if you want to see the list of hidden partitions, you can click on the β€œManage Hidden Tags” menu from the boot screen, and you will find your hidden partition on the following screen:

πŸ’‘
If you want to unhide any partition, then simply select and click on the β€œEnter” key.
hidden tags menu in refind

The rest of the things are quite self-explanatory, and the default theme of rEFInd is a bit boring; I recommend installing something different or the one mentioned below by us.

How to Install Different rEFInd Themes

If you’re somewhat of a command-line expert, you can discover and install various rEFInd themes from this GitHub link. However, if you prefer to install the theme I recommend, which is based on the MATRIX movie, then simply execute the following series of commands:

πŸ“
The location of the rEFInd directory may vary; in most systems, it will be found in β€œ/boot/EFI/refindβ€œ, but for some systems, it might be in β€œ/boot/efi/EFI/refindβ€œ. Therefore, I recommend changing the theme only if you are very sure about what you are doing.
$ sudo su -
$ git clone https://github.com/Yannis4444/Matrix-rEFInd.git
$ mkdir /boot/EFI/refind/themes
$ cp Matrix-rEFInd /boot/EFI/refind/themes

Once you are done, add β€œinclude themes/Matrix-rEFInd/theme.conf” at the end of the β€œ/boot/EFI/refind/refind.conf” file and reboot your system to see the new rEFInd MATRIX theme.

Final Word

I hope you find this article useful; if you want to dig further into various customizations of rEFInd, then do check its comprehensive documentation on the official project page. And if you have any questions or queries about the topic, then do let me know in the comment section.

Till then, peace!

Join The Conversation

Users are always welcome to leave comments about the articles, whether they are questions, comments, constructive criticism, old information, or notices of typos. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy.