Monday, February 25, 2019

How Large Should You Make the UEFI System Partition?

@#%&ing UEFI!!!

I used to multi-boot with a whole lot less trouble than I do today.

The good old BIOS machine. You have Windows 7 on a 500GB hard drive. What do you do with all that space? Why, you cut 8 more partitions and install a different Linux distribution on each one!

I'm not making that up.

The beginning of headaches is when I got my first UEFI capable machine. It was an HP with a 1.5TB hard drive and WINDOWS 7.

Yep. You saw that correctly, Windows 7.

Window 7 is NOT UEFI compatible, but you have to have UEFI for a hard drive bigger than 1TB.

There was no problems until I was installing (dual -boot) a Linux distro and it picked up on the UEFI and did a UEFI install instead of doing a regular (now called "legacy") install. It wrote over the entire drive and I lost not only Windows, but ALL THE SOFTWARE that was precious to me in Windows. It took me a few days to recover from that nightmare.

Since then, UEFI has been a blister on my butt that won't go away.

My latest "test" machine is Linux ONLY. This is the machine that I use to try out Linux distributions so I don't accidentally trash my main work horse.

And, since there is no Windows installation to set EFI/boot partitions,

How big should this partition be?

Windows makes it 100MB. In previous research, there were some instances of 256MB.

Then I came across this webpage. I've never seen anything like this in all my Google searches about EFI partitions. This is some heavy stuff.

"The UEFI System Partition should be at least 260 MiB (273 MB) to ensure its properly formatted with FAT32 so that you avoid UEFI implementation compatibility issues."

Oh...

"Microsoft recommends you set aside 100 MiB for Windows. Unless you decide to get away with the separate /boot partition on Linux, then I recommend you set aside 100 MiB of space per Linux system you intend to install. Keep in mind that you should allocate some space for failed and past installations, upgrade staging, and operating/file system debris as well. There is no reason to try and squeeze down the size of the ESP to a point where it might cause issues for you in the future."

Holy crap! 100MB per Linux system? I've set aside 10 partitions for separate Linux operating systems so I need 1GB now, but more is needed for other stuff.

The author wrote back to me on Twitter and said,

"You could also create 10 separate 100 MiB ESPs for isolation."

I have seen in the Manjaro and Pop! OS installers where you can set the ESP partition. I don't think that is available in other Linux distributions, but then I wasn't looking either...

Wow! I am beginning to understand why I have experienced so much trouble, I did not (do not) understand UEFI ESP partition rules at all.

I also understand why all of my research came up bust (until now) -

People at most dual-boot - Windows and some form of Linux.
I am Multi-booting; I have 4 to 12 different operating systems on a single machine.
There is no Google search for what I do; I just got lucky when I found that article.

This explains some of the X-Files-like problems I've had in the past few months. It baffled me why a computer that had been working fine all of the sudden wouldn't boot a Linux distro. This was after some big updates/upgrades so I'm guessing the boot/ESP partition got clogged.

This may offer insights into why I had issues installing openSUSE and Pop! OS.

So, time to resize the boot/EFI partition (AGAIN!) and see what happens.


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