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  #31  
Old 1st March 2012, 12:20 AM
srs5694 Offline
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linuxfirefox
Re: F16 - GRUB2 EFI non-Mac

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don3 View Post
Good thought. I tried that when I first had problems getting EFI to work, and then noticed that I couldn't revert to BIOS mode, before I even started this thread. At that time I upgraded from the BIOS version I had been using for most of the last 4 years to the latest available for that board, from 2009. Just now I re-installed that latest version, but unfortunately it didn't help.
It's conceivable (albeit unlikely) that you're seeing an unfixed bug in the 2009 version of the firmware that's not present in earlier versions. Thus, it might be worth downgrading a version or two.

Quote:
I don't see any socketed ICs on the board, other than the CPU, of course.
Too bad. You might check the manual to see if it has a diagram that identifies where the EEPROM chip is located. You could then look there specifically, just in case you overlooked something earlier.

Quote:
Even though re-flashing it didn't help, I agree it's still entirely possible that BIOS flash, or whatever RAM it uses, or its NV storage area could be faulty. It would be nice if there was a way to test any/all of those.
I don't know if there's a way to test those.

Quote:
I assume it should work (with sane firmware) to simply put a GPT with a single FAT32 ESP directly on the USB drive...?
Yes, that's the idea -- just copy over your existing ESP's files to a new ESP on the USB flash drive. You might need to tell the board to boot from the USB flash drive or use the rEFIt disc to get a rEFIt boot menu that includes those files, at least initially.

Quote:
Thanks very much for the info about creating bootable CDs! I will give this a try later. Which version of mkisofs are you using? I don't see the "-efi-boot" option in the man page on Fedora 14, but it's there in the F16 installation -- yet both executables claim to be the same version: genisoimage 1.1.11 (Linux). OTOH the RPM packages do have different suffixes...
I used mkisofs in Fedora 16. I also tried the version in Gentoo, but it lacks the --efi-boot option, too. I guess it must be a fairly new option....

Quote:
Oh, another question: Do we know whether either the redhat or fedora .efi bootloaders are supposed to have config files with them? It seems the GRUB Legacy and GRUB2 installers don't create any. So far it's been kind of an academic question for me since I don't seem to be getting that far, but if I try again with a USB drive, it would be good to know...
AFAIK, GRUB Legacy requires a configuration file with the same name as the boot loader file but with a .conf extension in the same directory as the boot loader file. GRUB 2's requirements depend on how it was compiled, and I don't know how Fedora's developers have done that. (I've never tried Fedora's GRUB 2 for EFI.) See this page for information on compiling GRUB 2 for (U)EFI, if you care to dig into doing it yourself at a low level. (The page is hosted on an Ubuntu site, but its contents actually originated on the GRUB 2 site and apply to any distribution. For some inexplicable reason, the GRUB 2 Web developers chose to remove this vital information, and the Ubuntu people took it over.)

I have one other idea, but it depends on your being able to boot a USB flash drive in BIOS mode: You could install your boot loader (GRUB Legacy or GRUB 2) to boot in BIOS mode on a USB flash drive. This should be relatively easy to test -- just stick the flash drive in and install GRUB to it as if it were a hard disk. If done right, GRUB on the flash drive would look for GRUB configuration files in /boot on your hard disk. (If you use GPT on the flash drive, you might need a BIOS Boot Partition. Note also that Intel's firmware likes to see an MBR partition with its boot flag set when booting in BIOS mode, so you should probably set a boot flag on an MBR partition with fdisk. If you use GPT, this will have to be the 0xEE protective partition, but if you use MBR, you may need to create a "junk" partition for this purpose.) Alternatively, you could create /boot on the USB flash drive. This would slow the boot process a bit, but probably not too much.

---------- Post added at 07:20 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:04 PM ----------

I've just reviewed this thread (but I skimmed large parts of it, so I may have missed something). I noticed that one commonality to your tests is that you've always used GPT disks. It's possible that this is at least part of the problem -- perhaps the firmware is seeing the GPT disk and refusing to set its BIOS-mode boot option as a result of that. Therefore, if you've got a spare hard disk, I recommend the following:
  1. Install the spare disk and boot an emergency disc (Parted Magic, System Rescue CD, or a Linux installer in "live CD" mode).
  2. Launch parted or GParted and create a fresh MBR partition table.
  3. Create partitions for a Fedora installation.
  4. Shut down and reboot the Fedora installer in BIOS mode. Verify you're in BIOS mode by examining the dmesg output for "EFI" strings, as described in one of my earliest posts in this thread.
  5. Install Fedora in BIOS mode.
  6. Reboot and hope it works.

If this latest hypothesis of mine is correct (and I'm far from certain that it is), you should boot up OK. If not, you can try again to disable the EFI boot option in the firmware's setup utility. This hypothesis doesn't explain why the board refuses to boot from what appear to be valid EFI boot files, but it could still explain at least part of the problem, and it at least suggests a possible solution.
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  #32  
Old 2nd March 2012, 03:29 AM
Don3 Offline
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linuxfedorafirefox
Re: F16 - GRUB2 EFI non-Mac

Quote:
Originally posted by srs5694

It's conceivable (albeit unlikely) that you're seeing an unfixed bug in the 2009 version of the firmware that's not present in earlier versions. Thus, it might be worth downgrading a version or two.
I had thought several times over the last couple weeks about trying this, but since I was on an older BIOS version when I first encountered all these issues, it hadn't been a real high priority. Last night I tried flashing the version I had been using until recently, 0517, but flashing failed. An error code was displayed on the screen, but it didn't stay there long enough to write it down. Hmm. I verified my BIOS upgrade CD contents matched the original ISO image from Intel. Then I went back to an even older version, 0305, which I had used for a while when I first got the board. Flashing failed on that one too. Finally I put the latest one, 0572, back on the CD and went through the flashing procedure again. This time it succeeded. So I'm guessing something is preventing down-grading the BIOS. There is a "BIOS recovery" procedure (chrismurphy reminded me of this earlier) which may allow downgrades, but when I tried it using a USB flash drive back then it failed to boot the drive, so I just left it. I suppose I could have another shot at that.

Quote:
I have one other idea, but it depends on your being able to boot a USB flash drive in BIOS mode: You could install your boot loader (GRUB Legacy or GRUB 2) to boot in BIOS mode on a USB flash drive. This should be relatively easy to test -- just stick the flash drive in and install GRUB to it as if it were a hard disk. If done right, GRUB on the flash drive would look for GRUB configuration files in /boot on your hard disk.
This seems like a good idea too... The installation (grub2-install) on the USB drive seemed to work, after some fiddling. I had to allow enough room between the MBR and the first partition for the "embedded image" (core.img, IIRC), and I had to set the bootable flag on the one and only partition I created on it, even though there was nothing in it. Although the installer seemed happy, the BIOS was less than impressed. However, the failure message was different this time:
Code:
This is not a bootable disk.  Please insert a bootable floppy and
press any key to try again...
Quote:
I've just reviewed this thread
BTW, I would like to thank you and chrismurphy for spending so much time on this..!

Quote:
I noticed that one commonality to your tests is that you've always used GPT disks. It's possible that this is at least part of the problem -- perhaps the firmware is seeing the GPT disk and refusing to set its BIOS-mode boot option as a result of that. Therefore, if you've got a spare hard disk, I recommend...
I think you're right about the thread. However, back before I started the thread, but after the EFI boot option became "stuck on", I had tried re-connecting the drive that had been the boot drive during the last couple years, which has an MBR partition table - and that no longer worked. And when I've disconnected all the discs, I've still been unable to turn off EFI boot. Although I was annoyed that I couldn't even go back to my old installation, I like the GPT disk layout much better than MBR (no CHS nonsense, for starters), and from what I've read UEFI should displace MBR (Real Soon Now), so I wasn't so disappointed to jump into those -- eager, in the case of GPT...

In any case, today I tried wiping my new SSD, setting up an MBR partiioning scheme, and installing in BIOS mode as you suggested, and to my surprise, it does boot!!! I did it twice, just to make sure. On the second try, I hit F2 and looked at the boot options -- "EFI boot" is still enabled, yet it is booting an OS from this MBR/BIOS installation. Weeeeird. And incredible that an Intel EFI system can't seem to boot from GPT-formatted discs.

So thanks for that!!! Now I need to decide how to go forward from here. I would still like the other disks that will be installed in the system to use GPT if at all possible. From what I can see on Fedora 14, Linux doesn't seem to have any issue with mixing GPT and MBR drives.
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  #33  
Old 2nd March 2012, 03:33 PM
srs5694 Offline
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linuxfirefox
Re: F16 - GRUB2 EFI non-Mac

I'm glad you've finally found a possible way forward! I was beginning to think I'd have to advise you to replace the motherboard, although I detest throwing away hardware if there's any chance of salvaging it.

Anyhow, the "EFI boot" option in Intel's boards only enables EFI support; it doesn't disable BIOS mode. That is, with the option enabled, either method should work. Thus, it's no real shock that you were able to boot in a BIOS way with the EFI option enabled.

In principle, you should be able to mix an MBR boot disk with a GPT data disk. In fact, I booted my MythTV box (with an Intel motherboard) for some time that way, and it worked fine. (Of course, my firmware wasn't doing weird things the way yours is, so this isn't any guarantee that you'll have success.)

Good luck moving forward!
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