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As I write (in late 2013), most Linux distributions support EFI; in fact, most have supported it for years. The quality of that support varies from one distribution to another, though. In my estimation, the quality of EFI support is best in Fedora and drops off through OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, and Mint, to name a few popular distributions. Some more "do-it-yourself" distributions, such as Gentoo, don't officially support EFI, but their nature makes it easy to add EFI support to them. In fact, it's possible to add EFI support to any Linux distribution: You need to install it (even in BIOS mode) and then install an EFI boot loader on the computer. See my Managing EFI Boot Loaders for Linux page for information on how to do this.
You should check your distribution's feature list to determine if it supports EFI. You should also pay attention to your distribution's support for Secure Boot, particularly if you intend to dual-boot with Windows 8. Note that even distributions that officially support Secure Boot may require that this feature be disabled, since Linux Secure Boot support is often poor or creates complications.
You don't even need to buy a brand new laptop. There are lots of good used laptops available, including plenty of “low-mileage” W8.1 machines which are for sale simply because their owners cannot cope with this operating system and just want rid of them.
Their loss is your gain.
It is actually part of the official UEFI specification that the firmware ("BIOS") should have an option to disable EFI-mode and boot up in "Legacy" mode (sometimes called "CSM"). http://www.uefi.org/specifications
All UEFI systems should have this option -- if you choose a distribution that does not support EFI-mode booting you can just select "CSM" or "Legacy" mode from your firmware ("BIOS") options and party like it's 2010...
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
Originally Posted by yooy
can't you disable uefi in bios?
if you are buying laptop i would suggest you that you buy without windows (this means freedos or linux) so you don't pay MS for the licence.
Sadly this isn't an easy option in most countries and means buying very specific laptops from certain brands only with very little choice.
Personally, since I had to buy Windows 8* and the laptop I bought has a 1TB hard drive, I went for dual boot at the moment so that any warranty claim will be easier and for the odd program I want to use which requires Windows -- at the moment that is only Amazon Video but should I apply for any new jobs soon I will likely need Windows at some point in the application process (I know I did for my current position).
*Technically, in a lot of cases, OEM discount from Microsoft, the inclusion of third-party programs and having no need to support any other OS actually makes Windows virtually free for OEMs, hence its ubiquity. This also explains the much broader choice of less expensive Windows machines.