My awkward introduction to EFI.

This simulated command-line prompt shows how I came to know EFI — UEFI to be more precise.

Oh. Lost you already, huh? Let’s back up a bit…

What makes distro-hopping so easy for Linux users is the basic input/output system (BIOS) on built-for-Windows PCs which, among other things, allows the user to boot from an external source via a simple text menu.

Apparently some motherboard manufacturers are replacing BIOS with the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) — like ASUS, who made the one on the custom-built PC I recently purchased. I honestly didn’t even know I had it until a botched Ubuntu upgrade yielded that screen you see above.

You can read this link for a good primer on the key differences between UEFI and BIOS. For me the differences have so far amounted to this:

… An extra 20MB FAT partition on my main hard drive, mounted at ‘/boot/efi’. That, and the ability to change my startup device from the BIOS UEFI menu using my mouse.

W00t?

Other than that, powering up doesn’t seem any faster. In fact, my system seems a bit less stable overall. Though possibly unrelated, my boot screen is borked and something repeatedly locks up my machine when I attempt to restart it (shutdown is fine).

On the plus side, I’ve gained a bit of knowledge that will hopefully come in handy when my girlfriend finally lets me put Ubuntu on her MacBook. But until that day comes I must confess that the benefits of UEFI are largely lost on me.

Am I missing something here?

2 comments:

  1. I agree with you in that UEFI does create a bunch of new problems. I do like the UEFI boot menu though. No more worrying about overwriting MBR’s and bootloaders.

    Also, on my Lenovo ThinkPad, I had to install kernel 3.0 before all the UEFI quirks were fixed, such as the reboot problems, only 1 core detected, etc. If you use Ubuntu, you can download it from here: http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.0-oneiric/

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