32-bit EFI and 32-bit Tumbleweed

I recently received an email, via the contact form for this blog:

I am desperately trying to get a 32 bit iso (i686) of tumbleweed installed on my machine which has a 32 bit uefi… And i do not manage. Would you have any insights?

I did not have an answer. So I decided to do some testing. And this post is based on how I succeeded with an install.

The first thing that I did was download the DVD iso for “openSUSE-Tumbleweed-DVD-i586-Snapshot20210826-Media.iso”. I then tried doing something similar to what I have previously done for 32-bit EFI. But it did not work. As best I can tell, the problem is that the 32-bit installer is not designed to boot with EFI at all. So I needed to find a different solution.

Preparing the USB

I started with an 8G USB flash drive that I would use for the installer. I plugged that in, and used “fdisk” to partition it. I created a 5G partition to use with “ext2” as a linux file system. And then I created a second partition of 256M, to use as an EFI partition. In “fdisk”, I set the partition type code to “ef” which is what is used for an EFI partition with traditional MBR partitioning. I do not like using GPT partitioning on a USB, because that makes it harder to reuse the USB.

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Leap 15.3 on hardware with 32-bit EFI

I have been experimenting with 32-bit EFI for maybe 3 years now, starting with Leap 15.0. This experimenting was all on virtual machines with “ovmf” firmware. But Leap 15.3 gave me problems, because the kernel would not boot on a 32-bit EFI system.

As I previously mentioned, I did manage to setup a system with Leap 15.3. To do that, I cheated. I installed on a system with legacy booting. I then backed that up to an external drive, and later restored to the 32-bit EFI system. That’s not very practical, and it still did not work until I installed a Tumbleweed kernel that I could boot.

A new kernel

Things began to look better with a recent kernel update, to kernel 5.3.18-59.5. After installing that update on my 32-bit EFI system, I checked whether it could boot. And it did indeed boot successfully. So I no longer needed to use a Tumbleweed kernel on that system.

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OpenSUSE and 32-bit UEFI

I have previously described my experiments with 32-bit UEFI HERE and HERE. In this post I will describe what I am currently doing and what works. In a future post, I’ll discuss how to install.

My hardware

I don’t actually have any hardware with 32-bit UEFI. So I have been doing all of my testing with a KVM virtual machine. I used the “ovmf-ia32” firmware in the virtual machine. At present, I have only one such virtual machine. I have occasionally created others for testing purposes.

I currently have both openSUSE Leap 15.3 and openSUSE Tumbleweed installed, side by side, in this virtual machine. To put it simple, Tumbleweed works well, while Leap 15.3 is troublesome.

In addition, I have two external drives that I use. I have both Tumbleweed and 32-bit Tumbleweed installed side by side on one of those. It is intended to be usable for general repair and rescue purposes, so I have the external (with USB) drive setup so that it can boot on a legacy MBR booting system, it can boot on a 64-bit UEFI system with secure-boot and it can boot on a 32-bit UEFI system without secure-boot. If I am trying to boot a purely 32-bit system, then I can only boot the 32-bit Tumbleweed on this external drive. For a 64-bit system with 32-bit UEFI, I can boot either.

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OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 — off to a shaky start

The latest openSUSE release was just a couple of days ago. Here’s the release announcement.

It has been working well here, but a few glitches have shown up, and I’ll describe those in this post.

The new build model

This release is using the new build model. Previous Leap releases have been built specifically for openSUSE. That often meant that the source code from the SUSE enterprise version (SLE) was recompiled to give us the openSUSE packages.

With this release, the decision was to use the SUSE built packages directly, without recompiling. The idea was to simplify to process and bring openSUSE and SUSE releases closer together.

For most of the development stage (beta testing, etc), this was done by copying the appropriate SUSE packages into the openSUSE repos. And we could install from there. I had been assuming that it would continue that way.

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My desktop is now running Leap 15.3

Yesterday was my switchover day. I already installed Leap 15.3 several months ago. It was separate from the Leap 15.2 that I was mainly running. I occasionally booted 15.3 to keep it up to date and for testing. But I then reverted to running 15.2 for most of what I do.

Release date

I’m not sure of the release date, but it is supposed to be in early June. There was a recent announcement in the factory mailing list, that indicated the release would be delayed by a few days due to some snag.

In any case, we are getting close to the official release. So it was time for me to switch so that I would be testing more thoroughly.

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A Leap 15.3 update

Checking this morning, I noticed that a new update was available. I have now update Leap 15.3 in KVM virtual machines. I have not yet applied this update on real hardware.

Note, that to update, I am using

zypper dup

at the command line.

Today’s update was relatively small. I noticed that pipewire libraries were installed or updated. However, KDE seems to still be using pulseaudio.

Perhaps the more important change is that the packman repo finally has some real packages. So you can try switching system packages to packman. That should improve things for multimedia software.

The status of Leap 15.3

On Tuesday morning, I noticed that there was a new update for Leap 15.3. So I update a couple of systems. It all looked pretty good, except that purge-kernels seems broken (see below).

On Wednesday morning, I saw an announcement that Leap 15.3 had entered RC (release candidate) stage. So I checked the two systems that I had updated, and indeed both called themselves “Leap 15.3” rather than “Leap 15.3 Beta”. So I was running the RC version. I have since updated all installed versions of Leap 15.3 to the RC level. Sometime in May, I will switch to my main desktop to full time use of 15.3 instead of 15.2. I’ll have to do some tweaking for that (setting up NFS shares, samba shares, etc).

Current status

The last two releases have corrected some problems with the use of crypto. Previously some older LUKS containers could not be read (bug 1183063), and it was not possible to configure a partition to be used as randomly encrypted swap (bug 1184419). Those problem are now fixed.

The main remaining problem that I am aware of, is that “zypper purge-kernels” is not properly cleaning up (i.e. removing) older kernels. I have reported this as bug 1185325.

The main change with Leap 15.3, is in the way that the system is being built. Previously, openSUSE releases were built separately from SLE (SUSE Linux Enterprise) releases. Now, Leap is directly using packages built for SLE, with additional packages built for Leap. This seems to be mostly working pretty well. But it does affect secure-boot. The “shim.efi” and the kernels for Leap 15.3 will be signed with SUSE keys rather than with openSUSE keys.

Scheduled final release is for early June. I’m expecting there to be another one or two release candidates before then.

OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 Beta

The beta release of 15 .3 was made available a few days ago. Of course, I have been experimenting with it.

There were problems with the earlier alpha releases. The new install iso was provided, but the online repos for 15.3 were older than what was on the repos. That problem seems to have been solved with the beta release.

I have installed both KDE and Gnome, and will experiment with both, though I mainly use KDE on real machines. One of my beta installs was to a real machine, and the others have been to virtual machines.

Changes

The main change that I have noticed, compared to Leap 15.2, is that “icewm” is not automatically installed. But it is on the DVD installer, so it is easy enough to go into the software section of installation, and add “icewm”. I did that for each install, because I rather like “icewm” as a light weight alternative desktop.

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GeckoLinux 999.210221

I noticed the recent announcement of a new release of GeckoLinux.  So I decided to give it a try.

I downloaded the iso for the Plasma version, and configured that iso as the virtual DVD in a KVM virtual machine.  I’ll note that I have only tested this is a virtual machine.

GeckoLinux is based on openSUSE.  And the latest release is derived from the rolling release which is openSUSE Tumbleweed.  I seemed to recall some problems with the bootloader in a previous release, so I particularly wanted to test that.  I setup the VM to use UEFI booting, because that’s where there may have been earlier problems.

The iso, as a virtual DVD, booted into a live GeckoLinux system.  The VM was set for using secure-boot, and the iso successfully booted with secure-boot enabled.

The live desktop was a familiar KDE Plasma 5 desktop, but with the theming provided by the GeckoLinux maintainer.  With a little testing, browsing the desktop, it seemed to behave as I expected.

After that browsing, I was ready to install.  I double-clicked on “Calamares Installer”, to start the installation.  And then I pretty much went with the defaults for everything.  For partitioning the virtual disk, it allocated 300M for an EFI system partition, with the rest of the disk space going to the root file system.  It did not setup a swap partition.  Note, however, that the Calamares installer has flexible options if you want to handle the partitioning yourself.  And you could easily setup a swap partition that way.  With the partitioning set, I told it to start the install.  The actual install went fairly quickly, after which I told it to reboot to the newly installed system. Read More…

OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 Alpha

The alpha version of Leap 15.3 is out. I downloaded on Friday, and installed later that day. This report is a little delayed because I am having to grapple with the “blocks” editor that WordPress is now requiring us to use on blogs such as this.

Downloading

The iso can be retrieved from the DOWNLOAD SITE. I downloaded three files:

openSUSE-Leap-15.3-DVD-x86_64-Build32.4-Media.iso
openSUSE-Leap-15.3-DVD-x86_64-Build32.4-Media.iso.sha256
openSUSE-Leap-15.3-DVD-x86_64-Build32.4-Media.iso.sha256.asc

The “*.iso” file is the DVD image. The “*.sha256” file is the sha256 checksum file. And the “*.asc” file is the gpg signature for verifying the checksum file.

To verify the download, I used:

gpg --verify openSUSE-Leap-15.3-DVD-x86_64-Build32.4-Media.iso.sha256{.asc,}
sha256sum -c openSUSE-Leap-15.3-DVD-x86_64-Build32.4-Media.iso.sha256

These reported a good signature and a good checksum.

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