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Old 10-31-2017, 06:43 AM   #1
anisoptera
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EFI BIOS questions


I have an "EFI BIOS" on my oldish, cheap and low spec Acer laptop. It's an "Insyde H20".

I've done some research but can't find anything useful on this (maybe because I don't know specifically what to look for). My knowledge of UEFI systems is very limited. Hoping someone can give me a few pointers in the right direction. My questions are:

1) Is an "EFI BIOS" a true UEFI? Insyde Software are a UEFI company and were involved with the spec, etc.

2) The "BIOS" setup itself is a normal text mode setup programme. Configuration options are absolutely minimal, there is no legacy boot, secureboot on/off option or anything of the sort, it's bare bones. I can boot an OS from the MBR as normal, so it does work.
It's almost as if it's locked into legacy boot mode?

3) Is it like this because something is missing from the hard disk, i.e. an EFI system partition?

This laptop is the product of "dumpster diving", I fitted some spare parts and scavenged an HDD which is formatted with a DOS MBR, not a GPT.

Any suggestions gratefully received.

Thanks

Last edited by anisoptera; 10-31-2017 at 07:02 AM. Reason: grammar, omissions
 
Old 10-31-2017, 08:31 AM   #2
yancek
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Do you see EFI options of some sort in the BIOS? If you want an EFI install you would need to either create an efi partition or use an already existing efi partition for the required efi files for your OS. The hardware would need to be EFI capable.
 
Old 10-31-2017, 09:50 AM   #3
anisoptera
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The only "EFI" I see is that it's called an Insyde EFI "BIOS". By virtue of being from Insyde that, for me, makes it an UEFI by default? There are very few options, boot order is about it, no means to disable devices, etc and certainly nothing related to UEFI and secureboot - it's minimal.

I've done some more digging around today, some users on mainly Windows forums have mentioned an "advanced" mode, i.e. hitting the letter 'a' key directly after hitting F10. I'll give this a try next and report back if it works.

Also I believe the "BIOS" was in legacy BIOS mode, because Windows 7 was installed when I got it?

Thanks
 
Old 10-31-2017, 02:33 PM   #4
yancek
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A pre-installed windows 7 is almost certainly an MBR rather than an EFI install. If it is EFI capable there should surely be some reference to EFI in the BIOS.
 
Old 10-31-2017, 02:35 PM   #5
beachboy2
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anisoptera,

Quote:
I believe the "BIOS" was in legacy BIOS mode, because Windows 7 was installed when I got it?
It is likely that the original W7 system was 64 bit and this uses UEFI with a GPT formatted hard drive.

You first need to format and partition your hard drive correctly.

This guide may help you:
https://askubuntu.com/questions/3536...ng-for-dummies

On another computer, download GParted and burn the ISO image to DVD.

https://gparted.org/livecd.php

You need to format the hard drive as GPT for UEFI.

Then you need to create 4 Primary partitions as follows:

Create a small (200MB) partition (sda1) to be used as EFI System Partition (ESP) and make sure that this is marked as bootable.

sda2 is the root (system) partition (say 20GB) for Ubuntu/Linux Mint or whatever distro you choose. Format the Primary partition as ext 4. The mount point is /.

sda3 is a swap partition (Primary) (say 2GB) (do not format it. Do not use ext4, but linux-swap).

sda4 is the home partition (Primary) (remainder of drive). Format the partition as ext 4 with mount point /home.

Sladek90 has this solution for a similar Acer laptop to your one:
https://askubuntu.com/questions/8629...aspire-es1-533

You need to remove the GParted DVD and then boot from Ubuntu/Mint/other distro DVD.

During installation, make sure that you select “Something else” in order to be able to manually partition the drive as outlined above.

Look here for info:
https://askubuntu.com/questions/3432...g-installation

EDIT
Alternatively, you may be able to disable Secure Boot by first setting a temporary Supervisor Password (change it later) and then change UEFI to Legacy.
In this case, format the drive as MBR.

https://uk.answers.acer.com/app/answ...le-secure-boot

Last edited by beachboy2; 10-31-2017 at 02:57 PM.
 
Old 10-31-2017, 03:13 PM   #6
anisoptera
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It seems like a crippled EFI (It's an Insyde H2O Rev 3.5, 'BIOS' V1.05) which is obviously locked in legacy mode. Most of the options are removed and the key sequences to get into advanced mode for some laptops don't work on this one. I've read about modifiying the BIOS image and reflashing it, but not worth it, I'll settle for legacy mode and MBR.

//edit: beachboy2, sorry missed your post as I was replying and left to do something else then came back and submitted.

To clarify, the BIOS is in legacy mode. OpenBSD is installed in a standard DOS MBR and secureboot is disabled so far as I can tell. The UEFI has no options to enable/disable UEFI or secureboot. It has very little in fact, not even control over power management.

I'm not sure what version of Windows 7 was installed, but this is old and low spec, so I doubt it was amd64.

Would merely setting a supervisor password give me access to more options?

//edit: No, doesn't change a thing.

So does a UEFI system partition have to exist before the BIOS setup will show UEFI options?

Thanks

Last edited by anisoptera; 10-31-2017 at 03:23 PM.
 
Old 10-31-2017, 03:29 PM   #7
Timothy Miller
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NO, the setup would allow you to switch back and forth between UEFI & Legacy regardless of if you even had a hard drive in there. The only difference is with MBR isntalled OS, if switched to UEFI (if it were possible) w/o CSM (compatibility support module, AKA legacy support in UEFI mode), you'd get "no boot devices found" error after POST.
 
Old 10-31-2017, 05:26 PM   #8
beachboy2
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anisoptera,

Sorry, I misread your post.

I thought you were stuck in UEFI mode.

This is common on a lot of Acer machines, hence the temporary Supervisor Password route to disable Secure Boot and then set Legacy mode.
 
Old 11-01-2017, 07:27 AM   #9
anisoptera
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
NO, the setup would allow you to switch back and forth between UEFI & Legacy regardless of if you even had a hard drive in there. The only difference is with MBR isntalled OS, if switched to UEFI (if it were possible) w/o CSM (compatibility support module, AKA legacy support in UEFI mode), you'd get "no boot devices found" error after POST.
That's what I expected, but wasn't certain as no real experience with these UEFI BIOS.
Quote:
Originally Posted by beachboy2 View Post
This is common on a lot of Acer machines, hence the temporary Supervisor Password route to disable Secure Boot and then set Legacy mode.
No surprises, the build quality is awful as well.

Thanks.
 
Old 11-01-2017, 10:48 AM   #10
colorpurple21859
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Will a live usb boot in EFI mode?
 
Old 11-01-2017, 02:44 PM   #11
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Erm. Isn't this just asystem with EFI as opposed to UEFI?
I would look to Wikipedia then back again at the options...
 
Old 11-02-2017, 04:54 AM   #12
anisoptera
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I know little of UEFI/EFI systems, did read Wikipedia and some other articles, but found it didn't go into much detail on the differences between the two except that EFI obviously lacks secureboot (not that that's a bad thing). But the laptop didn't seem old enough to be EFI based, as apparently that was discontinued in 2005 and began to be superseded by UEFI? It states that Insyde H2O is based on Intel's
original EFI spec, whereas nowadays it's a UEFI.

Judging by the version number, I think what I have is an older EFI though like you say.

So based on all this I assume it can boot from a EFI system partition. I'll give it a go.

Thanks
 
Old 11-04-2017, 12:26 AM   #13
WFV
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UEFI boot: how does that actually work, then?
https://www.happyassassin.net/2014/0...lly-work-then/
 
Old 11-25-2017, 01:10 AM   #14
watchingu
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Rod Smith's page, Linux on UEFI might be helpful and a good place to start on learning the subject matter.
 
  


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