BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Questions about Grub, UEFI,the liveCD and the installer
Forum rules
Before you post please read how to get help
Post Reply
Burlington
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:39 am

BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by Burlington »

Hi! What type of boot, BIOS or UEFI, do you recommend for a single boot installation on a completely new built PC? What would be the advantages with each method and is there anything important to keep in mind?
User avatar
xenopeek
Level 24
Level 24
Posts: 24971
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:58 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by xenopeek »

If you have a computer older than 5 years and you don't need support for disks larger than 2 TB then possibly legacy boot (BIOS) is the better option. For anything newer you can assume it is optimized for UEFI boot and legacy boot is tacked on as an afterthought. UEFI boot will in general bit a bit faster and has support for disks larger than 2 TB.
Image
User avatar
gold_finger
Level 9
Level 9
Posts: 2885
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:39 pm

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by gold_finger »

At some point the option to boot in Bios mode may not be offered anymore by manufacturers of motherboards and computers. That won't affect computer you've built now, but you may not have choice but to use UEFI on next build a few years from now. So, in my opinion, you might as well start getting used to it now and install in UEFI mode. Since you won't be dual booting with MS Windows, install process should be simple. If you let Mint installer do installation (and partitioning) for you by selecting choice to use whole disk, then only thing you need to do is be sure you booted the install USB/DVD in UEFI mode. (When you invoke computer's boot menu for devices you should see 2 choices for the USB/DVD -- one UEFI, one non-UEFI.) If you plan to manually setup partitions yourself you just need to make sure of three things:
  1. Use GPT partition table on hard drive. (Can set that using GParted from live Mint USB/DVD.)
  2. Make one more partition than your used to making: a 550MB FAT32 formatted partition at beginning of drive. (Don't think it is required to be at beginning of drive, but that's the most logical and most common place to put it.) This will be the ESP (EFI System Partition) which holds boot files for UEFI booting vs. the MBR for Bios mode booting. During installation you'll set this partition as the "EFI boot partition", or "/boot/efi". (Not sure how installer words it now. Pic below is from a few years ago.)
    Image
  3. Set "Device for boot loader installation" to the ESP (eg. /dev/sda1) instead of the MBR (eg. /dev/sda).
Please add [SOLVED] to your thread if a solution is found. Go to your first post in the thread, hit "Edit" button and add [SOLVED] to the title of the post.

How To Format Your Forum Posts.

Try Linux Beginner Search Engine for Linux questions.
User avatar
kukamuumuka
Level 16
Level 16
Posts: 6697
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:51 am
Location: Finland
Contact:

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by kukamuumuka »

Basically BIOS is better if wanting to avoid headache. :wink:
Cosmo.
Level 23
Level 23
Posts: 17817
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:34 am

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by Cosmo. »

Even with drives with more than 2 TB BIOS mode is perfectly usable. What is needed is a gpt partition table. gpt can perfectly be used in BIOS mode (except a few devices, where the firmware refuses to boot but this happens only in a rare case) with Linux. (This combination does not work for Windows.) Even if the drive does not exceed 2 TB gpt makes often sense and works.

For this combination you have to create the gpt partition table before you start installing Mint; the installer does not allow to select the partition table type and creates on a BIOS system always a mbr partition table. But with gparted the gpt partition table can get created beforehand and the installer will use it.
Burlington
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:39 am

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by Burlington »

Inspired by xenopeek and gold_finger (but with the remarks from adninistrollaattori and Cosmo in mind) I will give UEFI a try. Planning for a simple setup I will put EFI, /(root) and swap in three partitions on my SSD and use a single partition on my HDD for data storage with symbolic links to my home folder. Any comments to that setup? I also came across a suggestion to have some unallocated space left on the SSD to improve performance - is that true or necessary?
User avatar
xenopeek
Level 24
Level 24
Posts: 24971
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:58 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by xenopeek »

That setup will work and I have something very similar (though with 2 SSDs).

As for leaving disk space unpartitioned on the SSD that's mostly useful if you think you will be putting enough files on the SSD partitions to almost fill them. At that point the SSD firmware will have to work harder to run its wear leveling algorithm than when the partitions are say only filled half with files. If you think that will be the case for you, leave about 20% of the SSD unpartitioned. Personally I didn't do this as I don't get close to filling my SSDs.
Image
rene
Level 16
Level 16
Posts: 6693
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:58 pm

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by rene »

Putting swap on your SSD might actually be all the SSD over-provisioning (as its called) that you need, seeing as how you are on a new build not likely to in fact ever hit swap.

Put differently, if your new build will have 16G RAM or more, and if you don't use hibernation, the current situation wrt. memory use is such that you could forego swap completely on a desktop machine. Which is then also to say that if you DO have swap on SSD, its partition will function as precisely that reservoir of empty blocks that helps the drive's wear levelling.

Also note that SSD's overprovision internally already, some more than others, and that I personally don't do any further overprovisioning either; my SSD internally over-provisions 7% already and I am moreover not at all likely to significantly fill it anyway. Furthermore that I personally have even with 8G no use for swap on my main desktop machine, and while I do have a swap partition to experiment with from time to time, I've placed it on a HDD rather than the SSD; the SSD is too nice to waste on useless swapspace, I feel.

Yes, I agree with also placing /home on the SSD, seperate or simply as part of /, and symlink/bind-mount library-like stuff from a mounted HDD partition into your home. I do the same.

Slight remark wrt. Cosmo's reply above: while indeed BIOS/GPT can handle bigger than 2T partitions fine, a BIOS boot will need /boot entirely below 2TB. Which is automatically arranged for if all of / is of course -- and certainly is when your SSD is no larger than 2T to begin with, which is at the moment of writing still very likely.
rene
Level 16
Level 16
Posts: 6693
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:58 pm

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by rene »

Now that I made me look: referring to the swapon(8) manpage, man swapon, you may in fact need to explicitly add the "discard" option for the swap partition in your fstab to have its free blocks function as truly free space, i.e. available in the over-provisioning sense, once said blocks get touched once. Anyways...
User avatar
gold_finger
Level 9
Level 9
Posts: 2885
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:39 pm

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by gold_finger »

Sounds good to me too. I do essentially the same thing -- keep data on completely separate partition or drive (depending on computer I'm working on) and use symlinks to /home on the root partition. I don't bother creating a separate partition for /home because no data files are actually kept there.

Just in case my last post wasn't clear, since you're only planning to use an ESP (EFI System Partition), a root partition and a swap partition, you can just tell the installer to use the whole disk and it will automatically create those itself -- that is the standard setup it will perform when you tell it to use the whole disk on a UEFI mode install. So, you don't actually have to manually create partitions in that situation. After installation is complete you can use info in this tutorial to create and use data partition on HDD if you don't already know how to do that.

Only downside to letting installer do everything automatically in this case is you'll have no control over size of swap partition created, which may be much larger than necessary if you have a lot of RAM and don't plan to use hibernation. That's not a major problem though. You could always shrink size of that partition later using GParted.
Please add [SOLVED] to your thread if a solution is found. Go to your first post in the thread, hit "Edit" button and add [SOLVED] to the title of the post.

How To Format Your Forum Posts.

Try Linux Beginner Search Engine for Linux questions.
mr_raider
Level 7
Level 7
Posts: 1889
Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:50 am
Location: Montreal, QC

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by mr_raider »

administrollaattori wrote:Basically BIOS is better if wanting to avoid headache. :wink:
I disagree. In an EFI system, I know exactly where the bootloader is. In the EFI partition. I can see it and manipulate as needed. In an MBR system, the bootloader is hiding somewhere in the free space ahead the first partition. Good luck copying and cloning disks.

EFi systems are much easier to recover if the bootloader gets borked. Most EFi issues are due windows secure boot, which is not in issue here.
Image
User avatar
kukamuumuka
Level 16
Level 16
Posts: 6697
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:51 am
Location: Finland
Contact:

Re: BIOS or UEFI for single install on new built PC?

Post by kukamuumuka »

mr_raider wrote:
administrollaattori wrote:Basically BIOS is better if wanting to avoid headache. :wink:
I disagree. In an EFI system, I know exactly where the bootloader is. In the EFI partition. I can see it and manipulate as needed. In an MBR system, the bootloader is hiding somewhere in the free space ahead the first partition. Good luck copying and cloning disks.

EFi systems are much easier to recover if the bootloader gets borked. Most EFi issues are due windows secure boot, which is not in issue here.
If you do not know where grub is, you can find grub using the next command

Code: Select all

sudo fdisk -l 2>/dev/null | egrep "Disk /|/dev/" | sed "s#^/dev/#Part /dev/#" | awk '{print $2}' | sed 's/://' | xargs -n1 -iX sudo sh -c "dd if=X count=1 2>/dev/null | grep GRUB > /dev/null && echo Grub found: X || echo no Grub: X"
Re-installing efi-grub is a bit more difficult than bios-grub, so I cannot see a huge difference. :wink:
Post Reply

Return to “Installation & Boot”