Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

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pbear
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Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by pbear » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:21 pm

This is a known issue but dropped off the radar screen. It’s a relatively serious bug, though, and IMHO should be put in the pipeline for fixing.

In a nutshell, the problem is that if a user booting in UEFI does full install to a USB drive, even if the external EFI partition is specified, the bootloader files end up being split between the external and internal hard drives. The effect is the computer no longer will boot without the USB drive attached. As mentioned, this is a known bug (also here and here), but apparently wasn’t considered urgent as UEFI was then still new. There are workarounds, for example, install-and-repair (here and here) or manual installation of a bootloader (here and here), but these aren’t well known and are beyond the comfort zone of most new users.

This should be solved for three reasons. First, not only does the installer not do what it says it will do, it actually bollixes the pre-existing bootloader. Well designed operating systems don’t do this. Second, it’s bad for public image. Every time there’s a conversation about boot strategies (on the Forum, for example), this problem has to be disclosed, which adversely affects the new user’s view of the project without ever actually having the problem. Third, solving this problem would increase the appeal of installing Mint on a trial basis. Given current technology, full install to USB hard drive often is the best dual boot strategy for UEFI machines, as it avoids the unwind issues and competing bootloader problems of conventional dual boot. Instead, most trial users end up using persistent drives.

I realize part of the problem is that this is an issue with the Ubiquity installer and that comes from Ubuntu. Also, Canonical doesn’t seem to be throwing as many resources at Ubuntu as it did in the past, reportedly because it’s preparing for an IPO and focusing on cash generating elements of its business. Under the circumstances, it’s on Mint to step up and solve the problem. (It is, of course, open source software.) Yes, it will be technically challenging. Among other things, the installer has to detect whether it’s working with an internal or removable device. But if I, a mid-level user, can do this manually, I have to believe the developers can make the installer work.

Obviously, this is too big an issue to be solved in time for Tara. Please put on the list for 19.1.
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Re: Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by Pjotr » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:32 pm

Well, installing to an external USB disk is a technically inferior option anyway.... Among other things because the communication speed between disk and machine is limited by the USB speed. That's why I don't recommend such setups.
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Re: Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by pbear » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:49 pm

Not a problem with 3.0. In fact, not much of a problem with 2.0. My main Linux system is on an old Win7 machine, with several test boxes on USB drives. They're slower, of course, but performance acceptable. Meanwhile, trial users don't like conventional dual boot because of the unwind and boot repair issues. What most do instead is persistent drives, because that's the solution they find easily on the Internet. Or they do USB install and only find out about the bug afterwards.

Meanwhile, are you really saying, don't fix a a bug because you don't recommend USB install?
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Re: Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by Pjotr » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:31 pm

pbear wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:49 pm
Meanwhile, are you really saying, don't fix a a bug because you don't recommend USB install?
No. I said what I said. I'm usually not a fan of conveying a hidden meaning in my forum posts. :mrgreen:

On USB 3.0 the speed issue might indeed be non-existent. I haven't tested it myself.

On topic: the chance that the Mint devs will try to fix this, is slim. I advise to contact Colin Watson, who's one of the Ubiquity maintainers: https://launchpad.net/~cjwatson

He's a nice guy. In the past, I've requested his attention for ubiquity issues on one or two occasions, and he was very cooperative.

The best way is probably to try to contact him on one of the IRC channels where he's hanging out. More informal, and if you're lucky you'll get immediate attention. Be well prepared: have your texts ready for copy/pasting in the IRC chat client.
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Re: Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by pbear » Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:35 am

Thanks, but I've done what I'm willing to do. If the Mint developers can't be bothered, so be it.
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Re: Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by catweazel » Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:32 am

Pjotr wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:31 pm
On USB 3.0 the speed issue might indeed be non-existent. I haven't tested it myself.
No need. Typical disk speeds nowadays are between 80-160 MB per second. A USB 3 port can handle 640MB/s.
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Re: Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by Pjotr » Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:18 am

pbear wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:35 am
Thanks, but I've done what I'm willing to do. If the Mint developers can't be bothered, so be it.
Well, that choice is yours, of course.... :mrgreen:

But as I said, the chances that this'll trigger a fix are very slim indeed. As a rule, the small Mint dev team has no time to spare to fix upstream issues. It's simply not their playing field, and they have enough on their plate as it is.

Posting on a forum is not the way to get results for this. The Linux way is to get involved, not to "fire and forget". It's your itch, so try to scratch it yourself as far as you can....

I've outlined a potential approach for you, which has proven to be successful for me in the past. For fixing one or two bugs in exactly the same package, namely ubiquity.

No guarantee for success even then, because nobody is in any way indebted to you. But that way you attract the attention of the right people, namely the ones that are in a position to do something about it. And if you ask politely and can convince them of the importance of the bug, there's a considerable chance that they will.

Stay nice, don't waste their time, be as precise as you can, and be willing to test a potential fix. Then you'll usually find them to be helpful and constructive. They're good guys. :mrgreen:
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Re: Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by pbear » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:57 pm

Fair enough. Thing is, I don't have any "itch." I found a solution to the issue more than adequate for my purposes seven months ago. Even posted it to the Forum for the assistance of others (link in the OP). For various reasons, mostly personal, I've decided to move on from the board and chose to make flagging the issue for the Mint team as my final contribution to the community. What happens from here, if anything, is up to them. If this means trying to rouse Canonical, the Mint team is something like a thousand times more likely to succeed in that endeavor than am I, a mere user of a derivative distribution.
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Re: Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by Pjotr » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:17 am

pbear wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:57 pm
For various reasons, mostly personal, I've decided to move on from the board and chose to make flagging the issue for the Mint team as my final contribution to the community.
I'm sorry to see you go; your contributions on this forum were always helpful, knowledgeable and constructive. Hopefully we'll see you back at some point in the future.... :)
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Re: Bug Fix - Full Install to USB Drive in UEFI

Post by Moem » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:24 am

pbear wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:57 pm
For various reasons, mostly personal, I've decided to move on from the board
Sorry to hear that! I've often seen you helping others with sharp, analytical thinking and clear explanations. The forum can always use that. I hope we can welcome you back one day.
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