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jamtat
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:37 pm    Post subject: To uefi, or not to uefi? That is the questiion . . . Reply with quote

I'm not very new to this board but I'm pretty new to Gentoo. A friend who was a Gentoo user actually installed it for me quite a few years ago, and I spent a few months maintaining that system: it got to be a bit of a headache after awhile so I bailed on Gentoo. Been using Debian/Ubuntu and Arch since. So I'm not totally new to Gentoo, and I've had a few years experience with other Linux distros. Anyway, I'm giving Gentoo another look because I've got some new, kind of quirky hardware that I'd like to install a minimalist MythTV system to--the Liva X. I've communicated with another Gentoo user who's used similar hardware and had good success. So I need to ask for help here as I go about researching a Gentoo installation on this thing.

First question is about UEFI. Of course this hardware has it. I've never yet dealt with such a system, though I'm a veteran of many an install on non-UEFI hardware. At first glance, going through all the additional rigamarole to install a UEFI system on here doesn't make much sense to me. I know I can disable that in BIOS (and have in some of my testing thus far).

So I want to start off by asking who has installed a UEFI system here, as opposed to turing off UEFI and installing in legacy mode. If you did/didn't, why so? What do you see as the pros and cons?


Last edited by jamtat on Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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The Doctor
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Use it. There shouldn't be a question here.

Yes, you need to learn about it to use it. However, it isn't going anywhere and it is easier to use than the old system once you understand it. Basically, turn off secure boot and make a vfat /boot partition and put a EFI/Boot directory in in and call your kernel bootx64.efi and it should work out of the box, after you turn of secure boot. That thing can have more lives than a cat.

Note a few kernel options you need. You need the efi options enabled and you need a built in command line or initramfs.

You can get fancy by using efibootmgr to add entries that the firmware will look for and change their boot order, if desired. I have found this to be much better than trying to mess with a boot loader. A boot loader becomes a solution in search of a problem here and really just another point of failure to deal with.

Oh, right. Catch 22: use the system rescue CD if you want to mess with the UEFI setup since Gentoo min CD doesn't have the tools.
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your input, The Doctor. I did run across this guide, which is to be used as a supplement to the handbook: http://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Sakaki's_EFI_Install_Guide That look like the one to use if I end up putting Gentoo on this system? And, by "built-in command line" do you mean something like busybox?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That isn't a guide I would follow. The handbook has been updated. The option I recommend is Alternative: Using efibootmgr in the configuring boot loader section.

No, I don't mean busybox. There is literally an option in the kernel for a built in command line. You would edit it during menuconfig to have a correct root= option since there is no way to pass the parameter otherwise.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The new Gentoo Hybrid DVD will boot in EFI mode, allowing you to install an EFI system. I use rEFInd to call my efistub kernels, personally. You could just use your motherboard's UEFI boot menu to select properly configured kernels, as well. You could even install Grub2, if you want another layer, or need it for some reason.
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Doctor wrote:
Use it. There shouldn't be a question here.

Yes, you need to learn about it to use it. However, it isn't going anywhere and it is easier to use than the old system once you understand it. Basically, turn off secure boot and make a vfat /boot partition and put a EFI/Boot directory in in and call your kernel bootx64.efi and it should work out of the box, after you turn of secure boot. That thing can have more lives than a cat.

Note a few kernel options you need. You need the efi options enabled and you need a built in command line or initramfs.

I went with your suggestions (built in command line), The Doctor. The system starts to boot, but then I get a kernel panic. See my new thread at https://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-1012756.html for further information. If you can offer any further suggestions there, it'd be much appreciated. Thanks.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Gentoo system is not booting and I still have some points of confusion about UEFI. I can't see at this stage how some UEFI misconfiguration could be the source of my booting problems, since the UEFI does find the kernel and begin the boot process (it panics or hangs when it can't find the root fs). But who knows. In any case, it won't hurt to better my understanding of UEFI.

So, my main point of confusion concerns the fat32 partition where the kernel gets placed for UEFI booting, and whether that partition is supposed to be mounted under /boot once the system gets up and running. That's been my assumption, and I've edited /etc/fstab accordingly. So, is that correct? Or is the fat32 partition where the kernel is to reside supposed to remain, for the most part, unmounted--or perhaps be mounted at some point other than /boot? Input will be appreciated.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The fat32 partition should either be mounted at /boot/efi or not mounted at all.
If you are getting a kernel panic then either you don't have the correct parameters for booting or you don't have the drivers to access the root partition built into the kernel.
Check in your kernel config at
Process type and features ->
Built-in kernel command line
you have something like
root=/dev/sda1 or root=PARTUUID=part_uuid_for_the_root_partition_not_uuid
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jonathan183 wrote:
The fat32 partition should either be mounted at /boot/efi or not mounted at all.

Thanks for your input, jonathan183. Lemme see if I've got this right. The standard or recommended Gentoo configuration is to have a separate hard drive partition mounted under /boot. Does that still hold with the UEFI method of booting? If so, then is what you're saying that, as an example, /dev/sda2 would be mounted under /boot, while /dev/sda1 might be mounted under /boot/efi? In other words, one mount point under another mount point? Or, under UEFI, is /boot simply part of the root filesystem and not a mounted partition?
Quote:
If you are getting a kernel panic then either you don't have the correct parameters for booting or you don't have the drivers to access the root partition built into the kernel.
Check in your kernel config at
Process type and features ->
Built-in kernel command line
you have something like
root=/dev/sda1 or root=PARTUUID=part_uuid_for_the_root_partition_not_uuid

Yeah, I've got root=/dev/mmcblk0p3. I've looked over that menu item many times already, but I could well be missing something. My working assumption is that somehow the kernel is not seeing this weird eMMC drive--although I seem to have all the proper drivers compiled in. I'm going to try introducing the command raid=noautodetect, since I did see, on one of my partial boots, a message stating that this should be passed to the kernel if I do not have RAID (which I don't).
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's probably a matter of personal choice but IMHO EFI doesn't offer any benefit over BIOS booting other than being able to have full access to huge disks (Like, if you wanted to put /boot on the last sectors of a 6TB drive for some reason).

I stuck with GRUB Legacy and BIOS booting because it's proven, better documented, simpler to set up and customize, and has the flexibility of being able to edit the kernel command-line and boot sequence if things go Horribly Wrong.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bammbamm808 wrote:
You could even install Grub2, if you want another layer, or need it for some reason.

That's actually a nice solution if you for instance would like to be able to directly boot a sysresccd image, and grub installation is as easy as
Code:
grub2-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/mnt/sda2 --bootloader-id="Gentoo Linux" --recheck --debug

(where /mnt/sda2 is the UEFI partition's mount point; be aware though that some UEFI implementations have bootloader id whitelists, so you'll have to call it 'RedHat Enterprise Linux' or something)

Cyker wrote:
It's probably a matter of personal choice but IMHO EFI doesn't offer any benefit over BIOS booting other than being able to have full access to huge disks

A nice perk of UEFI is to never having to think again about primary and secondary partitions.


Last edited by Voltago on Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Voltago wrote:
grub installation is as easy as
Code:
grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/mnt/sda2 --bootloader-id="Gentoo Linux" --recheck --debug

(where /mnt/sda2 is the UEFI partition's mount point; be aware though that some UEFI implementations have bootloader id whitelists, so you'll have to call it 'RedHat Enterprise Linux' or something)

Just to be clear, the UEFI partition mentioned here refers to the fat32 partition to which the kernel has been copied, using cp /boot/vmlinuz /boot/efi/boot/bootx64.efi (per the handbook), correct? Also, how come there is no root= statement in your grub-install command? I don't know GRUB well enough to say whether that's required but I'm told that I do, in my current non-working scenario (kernel with built-in command line), need to have a root= statement. Finally, where does one find valid id's, in case a whitelist might be applicable?
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jamtat wrote:
Voltago wrote:
grub installation is as easy as
Code:
grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/mnt/sda2 --bootloader-id="Gentoo Linux" --recheck --debug

(where /mnt/sda2 is the UEFI partition's mount point; be aware though that some UEFI implementations have bootloader id whitelists, so you'll have to call it 'RedHat Enterprise Linux' or something)

Just to be clear, the UEFI partition mentioned here refers to the fat32 partition to which the kernel has been copied, using cp /boot/vmlinuz /boot/efi/boot/bootx64.efi (per the handbook), correct?

Correct. Also, please note the correction from grub-install to grub2-install.

Quote:
Also, how come there is no root= statement in your grub-install command? I don't know GRUB well enough to say whether that's required but I'm told that I do, in my current non-working scenario (kernel with built-in command line), need to have a root= statement.

Good point. Grub2 renamed --root-directory into --boot-directory, and I've just used the default value --boot-directory=/boot/ (so that grub was installed to /boot/grub/), but it actually would make sense to use the same value as for --efi-directory.

Quote:
Finally, where does one find valid id's, in case a whitelist might be applicable?

I guess google is your best bet there. But come to think of it, the only system I've actually seen doing this is Lenovo's ThinkCentre M92p. With any luck this is a thing of the past by now, at least my new Thinkpad T450s works just fine with the 'Gentoo Linux' label.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The current version of the handbook has
/dev/sda1 as the EFI partition
/dev/sda2 as the boot partition
/dev/sda3 as swap
/dev/sda4 as root

So
/dev/sda4 is mounted to /
/dev/sda2 is mounted to /boot
/dev/sda1 is mounted to /boot/efi

So the kernel command line for this arrangement would be
root=/dev/sda4

Can you post the output of blkid ...
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jonathan183 wrote:
Can you post the output of blkid ...

Sure. It won't be from within Gentoo since, as I've noted in this and other posts on this forum, I am thus far unable to boot into my Gentoo system. But my trusty Bodhi live USB drive can give me that sort of output, and it is that output that I'll append below:
Code:
lsblk
NAME         MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
sda            8:0    0 931.5G  0 disk
└─sda1         8:1    0 931.5G  0 part
sdb            8:16   1 999.5M  0 disk
└─sdb1         8:17   1   612M  0 part
loop0          7:0    0 572.7M  1 loop /rofs
zram0        251:0    0 959.4M  0 disk [SWAP]
zram1        251:1    0 959.4M  0 disk [SWAP]
mmcblk0rpmb  179:24   0     4M  0 disk
mmcblk0boot0 179:8    0     4M  1 disk
mmcblk0boot1 179:16   0     4M  1 disk
mmcblk0      179:0    0  58.2G  0 disk
├─mmcblk0p1  179:1    0     2M  0 part
├─mmcblk0p2  179:2    0   128M  0 part
└─mmcblk0p3  179:3    0  58.1G  0 part

Decided not to go with any swap on the main drive, so my partition scheme departs from the handbook in having 3 instead of 4 partitions (sda is the bootable USB flash drive and sdb is a largish external hard drive I plan to use for storing television recordings--if I ever succeed in making this system actually boot and run).

LATER EDIT: I decided I could get some output from Gentoo by chroot'ing into the Gentoo installation. As I expected, since I'm still using the Bodhi kernel, the lsblk output I get while chroot'ed is essentially the same:
Code:
(chroot) bodhi / # lsblk
NAME         MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
sda            8:0    0 931.5G  0 disk
└─sda1         8:1    0 931.5G  0 part
sdb            8:16   1 999.5M  0 disk
└─sdb1         8:17   1   612M  0 part
loop0          7:0    0 572.7M  1 loop
zram0        251:0    0 959.4M  0 disk [SWAP]
zram1        251:1    0 959.4M  0 disk [SWAP]
mmcblk0rpmb  179:24   0     4M  0 disk
mmcblk0boot0 179:8    0     4M  1 disk
mmcblk0boot1 179:16   0     4M  1 disk
mmcblk0      179:0    0  58.2G  0 disk
├─mmcblk0p1  179:1    0     2M  0 part
├─mmcblk0p2  179:2    0   128M  0 part
└─mmcblk0p3  179:3    0  58.1G  0 part
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A truly strange development. As I continue trying to dispel my confusions about UEFI, I keep running across statements like "you have to do X part of the installation while booted into a UEFI system." Doesn't make much sense to me in my current UEFI-benighted state, so I haven't been paying much attention to it. I decided today, after continuing to be unable to boot into my system, that maybe I should try booting into a UEFI environment to see if anything will be different (yes, that does mean that, up til this point, I've been attemtping my Gentoo install from a non-UEFI environment).

I knew my Bodhi live flash drive should be capable of booting into UEFI mode, since I noted at some previous stage that it had a UEFI kernel in one of its directories. But somehow it's only been booting for me in legacy mode. So I decided, while booted into its live environment, to copy over the kernel and a relevant GRUB file to the fat32 partition on my eMMC drive, reboot in UEFI mode, and see what would happen: I was pretty sure it'd be able to find the rest of the Bodhi live files from there--which it actually did.

The truly strange thing is that, once the system was booted and running, there was no sign of the eMMC storage: dmesg |grep mmc produces no output. Attempting to run fdisk, cfdisk or parted on /dev/mmcblk0 fails with an error message about the device not being present. Even modprobe'ing modules that I believe are related to the eMMC drive (sdhci, sdhci_pci and mmc_block) does not make the drive available. It's just as if there is no longer any such drive now in this machine. Which is pretty much the same result I get when I try booting with the kernel I complied under Gentoo: it can't find the root fs and gives either a kernel panic or just hangs forever, showing no signs that it's detecting any eMMC storage.

Very, very strange, since that eMMC storage shows up without fail every time I boot Bodhi in legacy (non-UEFI) mode. Anyone have any ideas about what might be going on here?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Doctor wrote:
That isn't a guide I would follow. The handbook has been updated. The option I recommend is Alternative: Using efibootmgr in the configuring boot loader section.

Here's another thing I'm not sure I'm getting. The stuff I'm reading about UEFI keeps referencing boot loaders or, in the case of efibootmgr, tools for editing the UEFI native booting facility. But boot loaders like GRUB, Syslinux, or utilities like efibootmgr are, as I'm understanding it, not even necessary, are they? I mean, if someone wants the ability to boot more than one OS on their computer, yes, they're necessary. And maybe that even describes the majority of computer users. But many do not intend to multi-boot their machine, and for these (such as myself), a boot loader or efibootmgr may be an extraneous step that introduces a possibly uneeded additonal layer of complexity to the system. Have I understood correctly about the relation of boot loaders and efibootmgr to UEFI? It's kind of throwing me for a loop as I research this, since it seems to me something inapplicable to what I'm trying to do; boot as simply as possible the only OS that will reside on this machine. Yet almost everything I read talks about adding a boot loader or efibootmgr to the UEFI system. Further input will be appreciated.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just become convinced, after reading a blog post by one of the main kernel developers at http://kroah.com/log/blog/2013/09/02/booting-a-self-signed-linux-kernel/ , that no boot loader is needed when one uses the UEFI firmware. As the author of that entry states under the section "We don't need to stinkin bootloaders!," "As no bootloader is going to be involved in the boot process, you need to ensure that the kernel knows where the root partition is, what init is going to be run, and anything else that the bootloader normally passes to the kernel image. The option listed above, CONFIG_CMDLINE should be set to whatever you want the kernel to use as the command line." If the kernel is compiled right (i.e., with all the necessary modules), the machine will boot without any bootloader, once the compiled kernel has been placed in the appropriate directory under the fat32 filesystem and the machine gets rebooted.

So all the discussion of boot loaders I'm encountering, while certainly appropriate to some (most?) systems, is not relevant to all scenarios. I wish those who write about this would be clearer, characterizing the step of adding a boot loader as an additional, optional one. It would make things less confusing.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jamtat wrote:
The Doctor wrote:
That isn't a guide I would follow. The handbook has been updated. The option I recommend is Alternative: Using efibootmgr in the configuring boot loader section.

Here's another thing I'm not sure I'm getting. The stuff I'm reading about UEFI keeps referencing boot loaders or, in the case of efibootmgr, tools for editing the UEFI native booting facility. But boot loaders like GRUB, Syslinux, or utilities like efibootmgr are, as I'm understanding it, not even necessary, are they? I mean, if someone wants the ability to boot more than one OS on their computer, yes, they're necessary. And maybe that even describes the majority of computer users. But many do not intend to multi-boot their machine, and for these (such as myself), a boot loader or efibootmgr may be an extraneous step that introduces a possibly uneeded additonal layer of complexity to the system. Have I understood correctly about the relation of boot loaders and efibootmgr to UEFI? It's kind of throwing me for a loop as I research this, since it seems to me something inapplicable to what I'm trying to do; boot as simply as possible the only OS that will reside on this machine. Yet almost everything I read talks about adding a boot loader or efibootmgr to the UEFI system. Further input will be appreciated.
efibootmgr is not a boot manager at all. It is, quite simply, a set of tools to modify the UEFI variables. It is a bit like the ls command. It only does something when you call it. And, quite correct, none of these are required. I would use it to create a second kernel so I could boot from the old kernel if my new one failed, but that is just a personal preference.

It might help to think of UEFI as BIOS+bootloader. In fact, I don't think adding a bootloader is particularly helpful even with multiple OSes on the same box.

Quote:
So all the discussion of boot loaders I'm encountering, while certainly appropriate to some (most?) systems, is not relevant to all scenarios. I wish those who write about this would be clearer, characterizing the step of adding a boot loader as an additional, optional one. It would make things less confusing.
This would be nice. I think you summed up the order of things quite accurately.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went through this process this past fall with a new motherboard, and decided to use UEFI. To be honest, I still don't fully understand how everything works, but it does. One of these days when I find that thing called spare time I should wander through the EFI stuff in more detail, and perhaps learn something. In the meantime, I have:
Code:
/dev/sda1  /boot/efi  vfat  noauto,noatime  1 2
/dev/sda2  /boot      ext4  noauto,noatime  1 2
/dev/sda3  /          ext4  relatime        0 1
/dev/sda4  none       swap  sw              0 0
/dev/sda6  /local     ext4  relatime        1 2


I also used rEFInd, which is not in portage, but is easy to find and install.

I used SystemRescueCD to install, but for some reason was not able to do EFI things from it. However once I removed it I was able to boot the system, it found my kernel, and everything has worked well since. When I build a new kernel I rename the kernel and initramfs to the conventions rEFInd expects to find, and it all just works. Hence my getting lazy and turning to other things instead of learning what's really going on.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a point of interest, I figured I would post my fstab.

Code:
/dev/sda1      /boot      vfat      noauto,relatime,discard   1 2
/dev/sda2      /      ext4      defaults,relatime,discard      0 1
/dev/sdb1      /usr/src   ext4      noatime      0 2   
/dev/sdb2      /usr/portage   ext4      noatime      0 2   
/dev/sdb3      /var      ext4      noatime      0 2   
/dev/sdb4      /opt      ext4      noatime      0 2   
/dev/sdb5      none      swap      sw      0 2
/dev/sdb6      /home      ext4      noatime      0 2   
# temp dirs. Use that ram!
tmpfs         /tmp      tmpfs      noatime,noexec       0 0
tmpfs         /var/tmp/portage   tmpfs   uid=portage,gid=portage,mode=0775,noatime    0 0

# backup
LABEL=Backup      /mnt/backup   ext4      noatime,noauto   0 0


I don't see any reason to separate /boot and the EFI boot partition.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Doctor wrote:
I don't see any reason to separate /boot and the EFI boot partition.


If I were doing it all over again, I wouldn't either. But this is the system I got installed and working.
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the most recent replies offering clarifications. Here's something I ran across on the Gentoo wiki (at https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/UEFI_Gentoo_Quick_Install_Guide ) that I'd like to ask about. It says, under "UEFI Gentoo Quick Install Guide"
Quote:
Note
Installing Gentoo on a UEFI-capable system is now covered by the Gentoo Handbook. Please follow the relevant steps in the Handbook when running on a UEFI-enabled boot medium such as the LiveDVD or the Gentoo-based SystemRescueCD.

My questions about that statement are as follows: why is it necessary to be running from a UEFI-enabled boot medium when installing Gentoo onto a UEFI-capable system? Can it NOT be done using a non-UEFI-capable boot medium? If not, why so? Just curious. Input will be appreciated.
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dr_vic
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jamtat wrote:
...My questions about that statement are as follows: why is it necessary to be running from a UEFI-enabled boot medium when installing Gentoo onto a UEFI-capable system?...

No, it is not necessary. The Gentoo minimal installationn CD "install-amd64-minimal-<release>.iso" (on a USB stick) works just fine for me.
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jamtat
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dr_vic wrote:
No, it is not necessary. The Gentoo minimal installationn CD "install-amd64-minimal-<release>.iso" (on a USB stick) works just fine for me.

Thanks for offering that clarification, dr_vic. I thought it shouldn't be necessary. I went most of the way through an installation using a non-UEFI-capable boot medium and things seemed to be going ok. I finally ended up with a non-booting system though. I'm assuming it won't boot owing to a kernel compilation issue, but I'm trying to rule out other possible factors. Knowing that it isn't required to use a UEFI-capable boot medium when installing Gentoo helps me to narrow down the range of possible failure points.
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