Skip to main content

Topic: What is UEFI and what do you do with it? (Read 1418 times)

  • ersi
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
What is UEFI and what do you do with it?
UEFI seems to be a quirky modern design for what used to be straightforward BIOS. A bit more than a year ago the single laptop I possessed had a regular BIOS. Now the laptops I have come with UEFI, meaning it's possible to do something called UEFI install, i.e. install an OS the UEFI way.

What is the UEFI way (in my mind, I pronounce it "weffy way") of installing an OS and what is it good for? And I mean good in an ordinary practical sense, not something about larger than 2TB hard drives that the Wikipedia page mentions repeatedly. The hard drives on any of my machines are not 2TB and even none of the externals approaches that size. Any other good purposes for UEFI?

And how do you make a UEFI install? There's a Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite in my possession whose Win 8 is getting on my nerves. When I boot Linuxes from USB on it, sometimes it ("it" meaning the UEFI boot section) offers "Generic Flash USB Device", sometimes "UEFI: Generic Flash USB Device". The latter means, I assume, that the Linux on the stick at that time offers an opportunity to install the UEFI way.

When I make a live boot selecting "UEFI: Generic Flash USB Device", everything just works normally.* Doesn't seem to make any practical difference. Is it so that when I make a live boot selecting "UEFI: Generic Flash USB Device" and then choose to install the system, then that's it - a UEFI install? I find it hard to believe that it's so simple...

*Or doesn't - Ubuntu-based Mint fails to boot on that hardware either way, both UEFI and non, whereas Debian-based Mint (which offers no UEFI) has no problem. Manjaro and Netrunner offer UEFI and have no issues going to live boot.

  • Frenzie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Administrator
Re: What is UEFI and what do you do with it?
Reply #1
According to what I've read, you should disable secure boot and you'd be good to go:

http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/uefi-drama.html

  • ersi
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: What is UEFI and what do you do with it?
Reply #2
Secure boot was the first thing I turned off, because it was making all flexibility in booting insecure. But hard to believe it's as simple as this...

Your article says something about Setup mode versus User mode. I guess this is what I must look into.

Edit: Having read the article now, looks like Setup mode versus User mode is applicable only with Secure boot on. The recommended procedure seems to be that if assigning keys here and there sounds like a hassle, simply turn Secure boot off.

I already discovered this on my own. Luckily the UEFI interface on the machine is transparent enough so that as soon as I got there, I immediately understood that Secure boot was hiding additional boot options and had to be turned off in order to get anything done. So that's okay.

The downside of Secure boot is that OEM may, incompetently or maliciously, configure it so as to disable even basic necessary connectivity, such as anything you stick into USB slot. For example, Win 8 on the machine cannot find a wired modem. I'm still not sure if it's some UEFI witchcraft or due to missing drivers on Win 8. The latter option would not be surprising, even bluetooth had to be enabled with additional downloadable drivers, but the former option is scary enough even as an option. Imagine, the USB slot is there but things don't work in it...

The bottom line seems to be that UEFI may be good in some sense when you want a single-boot machine. Otherwise hardly.
  • Last Edit: 2014-05-07, 10:19:53 by ersi