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New hardware

If you are having a problem with getting any of your computer's hardware to work with MEPIS or you can't find the right driver, this is the forum to use. It's for newbies and regular users to post questions. Just make sure to post what hardware you are having problems with, in the subject and not just in the post's text area, please.
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New hardware


Post by beckwith » Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:25 pm

I have a soft spot for HP. But I'm very confused about all this "secure boot", "uefi" and "gpt".
Now I've read secure is easily turned off (is this true?)
I need to ensure "uefi" can be switched to legacy BIOS (is this something I need to talk to
HP about?)
I have read GPT is a pain, but can I partition a GPT disk with Gparted, and install
Mepis 12? Next question then is where on such a hybrid disk is the MBR?


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Re: New hardware


Post by BitJam » Fri Oct 17, 2014 1:45 am

beckwith wrote:Now I've read secure is easily turned off (is this true?)
This is true. All x86 (64-bit and 32-bit) allow legacy boot. It is a violation of the license with Microsoft if they do not. There were a few bugs early on but those were resolved years ago.
I need to ensure "uefi" can be switched to legacy BIOS (is this something I need to talk to HP about?)
No need to talk to HP.
I have read GPT is a pain, but can I partition a GPT disk with Gparted, and install Mepis 12?
In general GPT is much less of a pain then the old-fashioned MBR partitioning. I've been using it on my main box for a at least a year or two. Recent versions of gparted handle gpt partitions just fine. I recently installed MX on a recent laptop that has a gpt partitioned hard drive so I can dual boot with windows.

There are some warnings that go with gpt. Not only installers work with it. For example the installer on antiX-14-alpha-3 does not. But the problem has been fix and alpha-4 will work with gpt. I don't know if the Mepis installer will work with gpt.

If the installer you want to use does not work with gpt then one work around is to install to a mbr partitioned disk and then do a copy -a from there to the gpt partition. You will then have to install the bootloader manually but that should not be a big deal.

Likewise, not all bootloaders work with gpt. I use syslinux with gpt but grub2 also works fine (and is more standard). Legacy grub will not work.
Next question then is where on such a hybrid disk is the MBR?
It is right at the beginning of the disk, exactly where you would expect it. For example to install the syslinux boot loader on /dev/sdd that was partitioned with gpt, I used the command:

Code: Select all

 dd bs=440 conv=notrunc count=1 if=/usr/share/syslinux/gptmbr.bin of=/dev/sdd
If you use grub2, it will hide some of this stuff from you.

There are more details at the wikipedia page.

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Re: New hardware


Post by JimC » Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:15 am

Personally, I'd reinstall Windows from scratch to a drive with an msdos partition table (versus GPT) if you plan on dual booting with Win 8.x to avoid the headaches associated with UEFI booting so you're not limited to distros that are compatible with it.

I've done that with two Dells that shipped with Win 8.x so far (reinstalled Windows from scratch): an XPS 8500 desktop I bought last year for myself, and an Inspiron 15 (3521) laptop I bought this year for my wife (both refurbished, as you tend to find good deals that way if you're a good shopper and watch for coupon codes).

Heck, for that matter, I just got e-mails with coupons for 35% off all Dell Outlet Business Desktops and Laptops; and 30% off all Dell Outlet Home Desktops and Laptops (as I'm on the Dell Outlet mailing lists for specials on their refurbished machines). But, I don't need a newer computer right this minute. :-)

Of course, I'd make sure the system comes with a Win 8.x install disc for that reinstall.

I don't know how HP works it, but with Dell, you can request one online if your system didn't come with one (that also has any needed drivers):

https://www.dell.com/support/Diagnostic ... nostichome

That's because Win 8 uses an odd arrangement with major OEMs, where the license key is inside of the BIOS EEPROM (with no COA sticker to get a key from); and you may not be able to download a copy with the correct product ID with some OEM versions of Win 8 that works with the product key inside of the BIOS (even if you use utilities to get that key first).

In my case, I bought refurbished Dell models with Win 8 on them and they came with Win 8 install discs. But, not all new systems ship with them from what I understand.

Here's a utility that can get the keys for you (and I did that just to be safer with my Dell machines (XPS 8500 desktop, Inspiron 15/3521 laptop) that shipped with Win 8, in case I ever needed them (but you may still need an install disc with the correct product id for it to work).


The way Dell works it, as long as you have the Win 8 install disk with the correct Product ID (which is going to vary by manufacturer with many OEM setups now), the installer gets the Product Key (license key) from the BIOS.

Many systems have utilities included to create a recovery disc (or bootable USB Flash drive) for reinstalling Win 8.x But, I'd get a physical disc from the manufacturer of the PC to be safer (just in case the recovery media you create yourself assumes that you're still using a GPT versus msdos partition table for a reinstall)

Anyway, Microsoft requires that Win 8.x certified systems ship with UEFI boot enabled with a GPT formatted drive that has a FAT32 formatted system partition on it with it's boot loader code, etc. When setup as UEFI versus Legacy boot, the system firmware looks at a table with UEFI compatible Operating System entries in EEPROM that has paths to their boot loaders (which is a FAT32 system partition in the case of Windows 8.x).

More about how UEFI boot works here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_E ... FI_booting

More about EFI system partitions:


You can disable Secure Boot in your BIOS setup without any reinstall of Windows 8.x. But, if you want to install a Linux distro without UEFI boot support, I'd suggest making sure you have an install disc from the manufacturer (HP it sounds like in your case) for your system, then reinstall Windows 8.x from scratch to a drive with an msdos versus GUID Partition Table on it with the BIOS set to Legacy versus UEFI boot.

Basically, Win 8.x will install just fine to a drive with an msdos partition table versus a GUID Partition Table with the BIOS set to Legacy. New systems just don't ship that way (thanks to Microsoft insisting that Win 8.x certified machines be setup using UEFI with Secure Boot Enabled by default).

So, you can go into your BIOS setup, disable secure boot, set it to Legacy versus UEFI boot, then boot into a Linux distro, delete the old partitions and create a new msdos partition table. If you use Gparted, just go to Devices>Create Partition Table>Advanced and select msdos for the partition type to do that.

Then, after you've got rid of everything on the drive and created a new msdos partition table, boot into the Win 8 install disc and reinstall Win 8 from scratch. When you use a custom install, you can tell it how much space to use for Win 8, leaving the rest free for use with Linux later (so you don't have to worry about resizing it's partitions partitions smaller later to create unallocated space for your linux partitions).

After you reinstall Windows 8, then just partition the drive as you would normally using something like Gparted, where you'd want to create an Extended Partition in the unallocated space, with logical partitions inside of it for use by Linux (swap partition, more partitions for your linux distros etc.). Then, you can install Linux distros without UEFI support in a dual boot config with Win 8, just like you always have using GRUB in the MBR as the boot loader.

That's what I did with the Dells I have with Win 8 on them (an XPS 8500 desktop I got last year, and an Inspiron 15/3521 laptop I got for my wife this year). That way, I don't have to worry about sticking with distros that work with a UEFI boot setup.

Of course, you'd want to make sure that Mepis 12 (what it sounds like you want to install) works with your new hardware (drivers available for all of the chipsets like USB, sound, ethernet, etc.).

So, I'd switch the BIOS to Legacy boot temporarily and see if live media for Mepis 12 (USB Flash drive or DVD) works with everything first before going through the steps mentioned above (and/or do some digging to find out if a newer kernel and driver modules from backports would solve any compatibility issues with it if you find that Mepis 12 doesn't have drivers you need for the newer computer hardware)

A number of newer distros do support UEFI boot now. But, I didn't want to mess with it and be limited to those types of distros (hence why I reinstalled Win 8 from scratch using drives setup with msdos partition tables (versus GPT) with the BIOS set to Legacy versus UEFI.

Basically, Win 8.x and virtually any modern linux distro will work with a drive that has an msdos partition table with the BIOS set to Legacy. But, not all Linux distros will work with UEFI.

So, using a drive with an msdos partition table is the best way to get maximum compatibility with both Win 8.x and more Linux distros.

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