Opensuse 13.1M1 on UEFI – my experience

I decided to try installing 13.1M1 (that’s the prelease milestone1 test version) on my UEFI box.  Broken stuff does not get fixed unless somebody tests and reports the problems.  It was an interesting experience.  The initial outcome was that it left my computer unbootable, though I eventually got it working.

I ended up adding some remarks to bug 812266 comment 6, where the last paragraph is UEFI related.  And I made a new bug report for bug 822770.

Describing the install

I have previously described my UEFI box, and how I had set it up.  I chose to install 13.1M1 to replace the second instance of opensuse 12.3 on that box.  I had the 13.1M1 64-bit install DVD image written to a USB drive, so I booted that with the computer set for UEFI secure boot.

The install started well.  I imported the partitioning from my earlier install (importing is an option in the install partitioner).  After the partitioning section and the defining user accounts section, I was taken to the main install screen.  I clicked on the boot section.  It all looked pretty good.  The “install secure boot” box was already checked by default.

I then went into the boot option screen.  I first set the timeout to 15 seconds (the default is 8, as I recall).  And then, remembering the problems I had when originally installing that second instance, I changed the “Distributor” from “openSUSE 13.1” to “openSUSE_alt 13.1”.  This was to make sure that the UEFI boot entry would be called “opensuse_alt” and not “opensuse”.  I wanted to avoid a conflict with the name used for my first install instance on that box.

After completing my boot settings, I next set the ssh daemon to run and to open the firewall port (near the bottom of the screen).  And then I went into the software selection.

Everything looked to be working well in the installer, as smooth as any I have seen.  So I clicked the buttons to proceed with the install.

It takes a little while to install all of those packages.  I chose to install KDE, Gnome, XFCE and LXDE, with a few additional extras.  I left the installation busily installing, and went to work on my normal desktop (running 12.3).  A little later, I checked back, and there was a popup telling me that “mkinitrd” had failed.

Rescue attempts

Next, I used CTRL-ALT-F2 to get a terminal window.  From there, I could see that the “initrd” appeared to have been properly built and installed.  So it was likely the booting that was messed up.  Running

efibootmgr -v

showed that indeed, booting was a mess.  There was no bootable system listed.  There was a boot entry for Windows, but I had changed that to point to an opensuse boot instance.  That was a mistake.  I should have changed it back to the Windows boot manager before I started the install.

The effect was that the Windows boot manager entry pointed the boot loader for the opensuse instance that I had just overwritten.  And there was no workable boot entry at all for opensuse.  The entry for my first opensuse instance on that box had been deleted.

I then attempted to put that entry back, using the “-c” option of “efibootmgr”.  For that, I used the exact command that I listed in an earlier post.  The command was silently ignored.  I still had no opensuse boot entry.

Using CTRL-ALT-F7 got me back to the installer.  I told it to proceed in spite of the error.  That got me to the reboot.  I hit F12 to see what boot options the BIOS would give me.  The only options were

  • Windows boot manager (which would not work, as described above)
  • Boot from hard drive 1 (would probably work to boot Windows)
  • Boot from hard drive 2 (never tested)
  • Boot from the USB

I tried booting from hard drive 2, which should have gotten me into opensuse 12.3.  Alas, I had not set that up correctly so it failed.  So I booted again from the install USB, went into rescue mode, and again tried to add the boot entry with “efibootmgr”.  Again, that failed.

The next step was to boot from a 12.3 rescue USB.  That worked.  And I used “efibootmgr” in that to add a suitable boot entry.  Fortunately, that worked.

I could now boot into my installed opensuse 12.3.  The first thing that I did there was run “grub2-mkconfig” to rebuild the boot menu.  That gave me a boot menu item for my 13.1 install.  And that would allow me to boot the 13.1 system and look around to see what went wrong.

The investigation

Once back in the system, I could investigate what went wrong.

The first check was the boot files in the EFI partition.  And I found those in “/boot/efi/EFI/opensuse”.  They should have been in “/boot/efi/EFI/opensuse_alt”.  So my attempt to change the distributor from “openSUSE” to “openSUSE_alt” had been ignored.

I checked “/etc/default/grub”.  And the distributor line there still said “openSUSE 13.1”.  I manually edited that, adding the “_alt”.

Next, I started Yast, and went to the boot loader section.  I attempted to install grub2-efi once again.  It failed, in the same way that it had failed during the install.  However, the needed files for booting were now in the correct place in the EFI partition.

The boot menu “/boot/grub2/grub.cfg” did not exist.  I used “grub2-mkconfig” to boot that.  With those changes, I should now be able to boot into the system in a reasonably normal way.

Checking the logs showed that the failure was when running “/usr/sbin/shim-install”.  And that’s what I reported as bug 822770.

Final remarks

The problem is apparently a kernel bug.  I’ll post separately about that.  Enough people seem to be aware of the problem, that there’s a good chance it will be fixed in time for the 13.1 final release.  Further testing showed that I could not add a UEFI boot entry while running kernel 3.9.0-1 (the installed kernel for 13.1M1), but I could add it running kernel 3.9.3-10 (tumbleweed on my 12.3 installed system on the same box).

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About Neil Rickert

Retired mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

9 responses to “Opensuse 13.1M1 on UEFI – my experience”

  1. Mary E. Nolan says :

    The problem still exist. I spent hours last night trying to install OpenSUSE 13.1 on a new computer and always “mikinitrd” had failed. It was the first time I’ve encountered such a problem. I have installed all flavours of Suse/OpenSUSEmany times.

    I didn’t know how to get out of the situation, so tried to install again, and again and again. I didn’t have the ‘know-how’ to solve the problem. I did mess around, but ended up not being able to boot Windows at all. I would be very happy to blow Windows completely. It seems to me that Windows has created a system whereby unless one has some knowledge of other systems, they will be forced to stay with Windows. For me I need a computer for work. I’ve been using OpenSuse since 10.1, I think. SuSE has always been easy to use for the non-exp, well for me anyway. And I really do appreciate people such as yourself, who write up reports to help people like me who don’t have the smarts.

    I was very happy to find your reports on how you eventually installed OpenSUSE 13.1 I have asked the shop to send me a re-install disc for Windows. I have absolutely no intention of buying such a disc, and if needs be I will blow it away.

    Thank you

    Like

    • Neil Rickert says :

      I’m sorry to hear that you are having problems.

      A “mkinitrd” failure might really be an “install-boot” failure. Perhaps your computer has difficulties with UEFI installs.

      Can you tell me something about what kind of computer this is?

      By the way, I hear that you can download the installer for Windows 8 or 8.1, and follow the instructions to make an install USB. It supposedly gets the activation key from your BIOS (this might depend on the manufacturer). However, I have not tested this.

      I purchased my box intending only linux use. But I kept Windows 8 (now upgraded to 8.1) to experiment with dual-boot, etc.

      Like

      • Mary E. Nolan says :

        I find Panasonic computers the best I’ve ever used, except for the original IBM. This little one I’m writing on is almost 8 years old, it’s a Panasonic CF-W5 with 2 GB RAM. I got rid of Windows on this machine a long time ago. Although, it is not a real tough book, it has taken two very nasty spills on concrete from a height. I really did not expect it to survive after the 2nd fall. It has a few cracks, but still works reasonably well, although it now gets very hot after heavy use, and I need to reboot a lot more. I have OpenSUSE 13.1 on this one

        The new Panasonic is a CF-5 SAWZYBE, Intel ® Core i5-3340M CPU @ 2.70GHz Hard Disk 500 GB (SATA AHCI), BIOS V3. 00L11. The keyboard is one of the best I’ve ever used.

        This is the Error code:

        Boot Mode: Normal.

        UEFI Boot enable, CSM Support Enabled, CSM Support, Auto Enabled: UEFI Boot from Hard Disk, Boot from Optical Drive, “Boot from Lan and USB” I have disabled.

        There are 7 Boot Option: 1. USB Floppy Disk, 2, Hard Disk, 3, Optical Drive, 4. LAN, 5, USB KEY, 6, USB hard Disk, 7, USB, 8, Optical drive.
        I have not used a floppy in years.

        I have been reading a lot about the error, and it seems to be a very constant problem for MS users. I now must wait until I get the reinstall disk or, I can get the program online and use a USB stick to see if it works. I’m also thinking I should go to the Panasonic Page and update the BIOS to the latest.

        I have been reading up on the activation key in the BIOS, and there are programs online that will do the job and retrieve it. Though, since this is Windows pro ???, I don’t think I will be able to download the program so easily.

        What I would like to do is install OpenSUSE, keep Windows 8, but somehow deactivate it and use it for BIOS updates etc.

        Thank you,

        Mary E.

        Like

        • Neil Rickert says :

          What I would like to do is install OpenSUSE, keep Windows 8, but somehow deactivate it and use it for BIOS updates etc.

          I’ll try to help you with opensuse.

          From your original description, it looks to me as if the install was almost complete.

          Are you able to boot from your install media or from a rescue linux system, and look around? The opensuse live rescue CD might be useful for that.

          By the way, one of your comments was originally flagged as spam. I unflagged that.

          Like

          • Mary E. Nolan says :

            Thank you. The first comment I copied and pasted, perhaps that is why it was flagged as spam. At the moment, the MS side shows the following: the first error was 0xc000034, the new error is: 0xc0000225. These errors have been around since Windows 7, and MS is very much aware of the situation, but seem unwilling/unable to fix the problem.

            I am still waiting for the installation DVD from Panasonic.

            I had a hunch, so I burnt a brand-new OpenSUSE 13.1 disc from the home page and installed it on my friend’s Fujitsu-Siemens,AMILO Li 2727 This is a Windows only machine, with no UEFI boot

            Here are the results at 60%:

            sh: /usr/sbin/grub2-mkconfig: No such file or directory

            Boot Loader Installation

            Boot Loader GRUB2

            Boot from extended Partition

            The above failure is different to the “mkinitrd” failure and at this stage I am totally perplexed what is causing these failures.

            I have also been reading ‘dayfinger’s’ excellent ‘how-to’ Dual-boot (preinstalled) Windows 8 and Linux – UEFI etc. and ‘old cpu’ questions and answers. I will read it again, as it has helped me understand the UEFI problem

            On Windows side you are asked to burn two backup discs which I did when I first received the machine. 1. MS-1 and Windows 8 — these might not be the correct names. I booted up Windows 8 last night and OpenSUSE 13.1 asked if I wanted to install. So it is still on the hard-drive.

            Thank you, I do appreciate your help.

            Mary E.

            Like

          • Neil Rickert says :

            If somebody living near here had the same problem, I would want to sit in front of the machine to see what went wrong. In this case the distance is a bit too far, and I don’t have enough information to solve the problem.

            Twenty years ago, I was installing linux. And booting problems were very common. The booting/partitioning system was designed for hard drives with no more than 32M capacity. The computer I purchased in 1995 had a 1.6G disk. Since then there have been many changes to the traditional way of booting, and most of those early problems have gone away. But with disk sizes of 1T and more, the old booting method had reached the limits of what it could handle.

            So UEFI is potentially better. But it looks as if the industry needs to go through a few years of learning experience to get it all working smoothly.

            My current desktop came with Windows 8 (later upgraded to 8.1). But I am using it the way that you want to use yours. I boot Windows maybe twice a week to check for updates and to update the anti-virus. Then I quickly reboot to opensuse, which is what I really want to use.

            Like

      • Mary E. Nolan says :

        Panasonic CF-5 SAWZYBE, Intel ® Core i5-3340M CPU @ 2.70GHz
        Hard Disk 500 GB (SATA AHCI), BIOS V3. 00L11

        Boot Mode: Normal, UEFI Boot enable, CSM Support Enabled, CSM Support, Auto. Enabled: UEFI Boot from Hard Disk, Boot from Optical Drive, “Boot from Lan and USB” I have disabled.

        There are 7 Boot Option: 1. USB Floppy Disk, 2, Hard Disk, 3, Optical Drive, 4. LAN, 5, USB KEY, 6, USB hard Disk, 7, USB, 8, Optical drive.

        Error code: 0xc0000034

        Copy and paste went AWL last night, as I was sure that I had c+p everything. I don’t understand the monopoly that MS has on the software industry. If I buy a car or any other mode of transport, it is not dictated to me that I must use X or Y petrol. I have the choice of using whatever petrol I decide on.

        Yet, MS is allowed to dictate to the owner of a computer what system they should/must use. If I bought Windows 8, it would probably cost about $190, but the actual machine is worth at least 10 times that. My question is how on earth did MS get such a strangle hold? Why is such a situation allowed in the home of galloping Capitalism? and why don’t the end user(s) demand a free and open market? If we did not have systems such as OpenSUSE and the many OS free systems, I don’t believe computing as we know it would have taken off.

        Or is it that most people just use their computer to watch films, go on online and tweet their friends. I just don’t know.

        Thank you,

        Mary E.

        Like

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