[nSLUG] uefi and gpt

Eugene Cormier eugene.cormier at gmail.com
Wed Jan 22 17:44:23 AST 2014

Or, if you're compiling your own kernel, you can select EFI stub and
throw the kernel on a Fat32 partition and you can boot *without* a
bootloader (no gub or lilo to deal with)

On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 01:24:22PM -0800, Stephen Yorke wrote:
>    Most of the newer machines have an option to revert to a BIOS boot
>    instead of UEFI boot. I know Dell's and Samsung tablets do.
>    Sent from my Samsung Ativ S running WP8
>      __________________________________________________________________
>    From: [1]Robin Murray
>    Sent: 2014-01-22 1:52 PM
>    To: [2]Nova Scotia Linux User Group
>    Subject: [nSLUG] uefi and gpt
>    I just wanted to give everyone a heads up on newer system you might
>    want to install linux on. This may be old news to many, but where I
>    don't work on new systems that often, it blind sided me.
>    There are two new features added to newer systems (pretty much anything
>    with windows 8+ now, and a few older ones with 7 as well). One is a
>    secure boot feature called uefi that replaces the bios and enhances the
>    boot process to make it more secure, the other is gpt partitioning
>    which changes how disks are partitioned. There are lots of hits on
>    google if you want the gory details.
>    The problem that I ran in to is that we are currently in the worst
>    possible spot in supporting these new features in our tooling (both
>    linux and windows thrid party). When new stuff is introduced, no one
>    supports it and you are relatively safe. After new stuff has become old
>    hat, everything is supported nicely and no one give it a second
>    thought. Between those extremes you get spotty and unreliable support,
>    and that's when major problems can rear their ugly heads. You believe
>    you are using proper tooling, and they betray you.
>    My horror story: I purchased a new dell laptop with win8 installed. I
>    also purchased an ssd to replace the 1Tb hard drive since I'm more
>    interested in speed than space. The toshiba ssd came with some cloning
>    software called ntiecho. I plunked this cd in and it asked me to
>    install it, which I did, and it immediately made my source hdd drive
>    unbootable because it didn't properly support uefi. It installed a grub
>    menu with two options, one to start the cloning process, the other to
>    restore back to windows boot, neither one of which worked. Not an
>    auspicious start. (On a side note, it really sticks in my craw that
>    cloning software would screw around with the boot areas on a source
>    drive at all, let alone without any warning. Unbelievable!)
>    From there I disappeared down a rabbit hole for four days in my spare
>    time trying to get the system bootable from the ssd. Used clonezilla,
>    windows recovery, kubuntu live and lots of other tools, and was lead
>    down one branch of the maze after another.
>    One of the major problems is that dell, in its infinite wisdom, doesn't
>    provide a windows disk, just a paritition on the hdd, to recover the
>    system. I was able to get this recovery partition onto a live usb stick
>    and boot to it, but again, in dell's infinite wisdom, the recovery
>    software is a dell version, not the windows version, and it's useless,
>    it just tries a few things behind the scenes to try to fix the problem,
>    and if it can't find anything wrong, gives up and tries to factory
>    restore. No access to diskpart or bcdedit or any other recovery tools,
>    just a brain dead single window with no options. And factory restore
>    does NOT fix the boot partitions. So if you screw up your boot
>    partitions, you are done as far as dell recovery goes.
>    Other things of note:
>    * kparted on kubuntu 12.04.3 says it supports gpt, but doesn't, it
>    screws things up. gparted does work, however.
>    * gdisk can be used to work with gpt partitions, and seems to work well
>    (you can even sort you partitions in the order they appear on the
>    drive, which is nice).
>    * when you install linux, create a small (1Mb) 'grub-boot' partition,
>    that seems to be where the grub menuing system is now stored. If you
>    don't do that, you only get options in the efi menu for the current
>    linux install.
>    * If installing from scratch, also create a small (100-500Mb) efi
>    partition where the efi boot process is stored. This is a shared
>    partition between os's, so you will see windows boot stuff there too if
>    you have windows. If windows efi is pre-installed, just point the linux
>    install to it so it will insert its own stuff.
>    * If you want to clone a windows setiup, for now (until all the tools
>    are properly enhanced), do the clone first and put all the windows
>    partitions at the front of the drive, in the same order as they were on
>    the source drive, then install linux on subsequent partitions.
>    Otherwise you will be faced with drive letter problems on windows, and
>    possibly get hauled in to fixing bool stuff with borked tools.
>    * If you want to resize the windows ntfs partitions before the clone,
>    resize them first within windows rather than using an external tool
>    that may not properly support gpt.
>    * If windows tells you that you can't shrink your os partition down to
>    the size you want, even though you haven't used all the space, you have
>    to figure out what unmovable files are in the way. I had to temporarily
>    turn off swap file and system recovery before I could shrink it to fit
>    my ssd.
>    * Before you start, try to get hold of a full windows install disk you
>    can use to recover from, or barring that, at least a full system image
>    of your new system so you can blast everything back and start from
>    scratch. Dell offers a cd and usb stick, but you have to order them
>    separately. I now have a usb stick coming to me so I can reset my
>    borked source drive.
>    * Read up on uefi, efi boot partitions, grub-boot partitions, gpt,
>    gdisk, bcdedit, bootrec, secure boot and anything else you can get hold
>    of before diving in. Otherwise be ready for the guys in the white suits
>    to yank you away.
>    Hopefully these tips will be of some use to people here and save your
>    sanity.
>    Good luck and godspeed.
>    --
>    Robin Murray
>    Hatchet Lake,
>    Nova Scotia
>    Canada
> References
>    1. mailto:nibor.yarrum at gmail.com
>    2. mailto:nslug at nslug.ns.ca

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Eugene Cormier
Full-time Instructor
Acadia University
eugenecormier at gmail.com
Office: Denton Hall Rm.235
Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 10:30-11:30 (or by appointment)
Phone: (902) 585-1329

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