Kernel with EFI vars

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All of my computers, desktops and laptops, have traditional BIOSes, but for a few days now I have had in my possession a laptop with Windows 8.1 and UEFI boot firmware.

As all computers with Windows 8.x have UEFI firmware, and given that I have one of these in my possession, I suppose that I should investigate how to get Quirky to boot on them.

I am a bit nervous about changing the partitions, as I bought this laptop for someone, and will be giving it to them soon.
However, I will at least attempt to get Quirky to boot off a USB stick.

This page was a good starting point, to modify things from a running Windows:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Dual-Boot-Ubuntu-and-Windows-8-UEFI/

UEFI firmware
In the Control Panel -> System and Security -> Power Options -> Choose what the power buttons do,
I clicked "Change settings that are currently unavailable"
Then in "Shutdown settings" I disabled "Turn on fast startup"
Then clicked "Save changes" button.

I then rebooted, and pressed the F2 key to bring up the boot firmware setup (UI is like the old BIOS setup). Note, some computers might require the DEL key to do this.
Note also, the prior step in the Control Panel is required to be able to use the F2 key to bring up the firmware setup.

In the firmware menu, "Security" section, there is "Secure Boot [enabled]", and I pressed the "-" key to disable, then saved.

The firmware also has a "Boot order" section, however my Quirky Unicorn USB stick is for the old BIOS computers. I do need to choose the USB stick as first in the boot order, however, it is necessary to build a UEFI-capable Quirky Unicorn USB stick.

UEFI-capable Linux
I am starting from scratch here, haven't got a clue. This is a great beginner's guide:
http://www.rodsbooks.com/efi-bootloaders/index.html

To get things rolling, it seems that I need to make some changes in the kernel. I have recompiled the 3.16.6 Linux kernel with these changes:

Processor type and features 

[*] EFI runtime service support
[ ] EFI stub support

Firmware drivers
EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) support
<m> EFI variable support via sysfs
<

...they are two different sections, you have to enable the first, before the second one becomes available. The second one provides a module named "efivars".

The new .config file:
http://bkhome.org/sources/kernel-3.16.6-efivars/

The new PET (27MB):
http://ftp.nluug.nl/os/Linux/distr/quirky/quirky6/x86/packages/pet_packages-unicorn/linux_kernel-3.16.6-nopae-builtin_aufs_f2fs_squashfs_zram-efivars-i586.pet

I am planning to install QU on a USB stick, using Syslinux 6.x, as the 6.x series supports UEFI booting.
There is a utility needed as part of the setup process, "efibootmgr", that requires the kernel "efivars" module.


QU: Service Pack 6.2.1

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If you have Quirky Unicorn 6.2 installed, an upgrade to version 6.2.1 is now available.

Version upgrades are available as Service Pack PET packages.

You can check for availability of a version upgrade at any time, by going to the menu:
Filesystem --> Quirky Version Upgrade Manager

Alternatively, the Quirky Package Manager will automatically check if an upgrade is available, whenever you start the Package Manager (assuming there is an Internet connection).

Or, you can just download the Service Pack, and just click on it to install it. Here it is (10.1MB):
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/x86/packages/pet_packages-unicorn/service_pack-6.2_TO_6.2.1-unicorn.pet

...it is a bit big because Ubuntu updated some DEBs in the last day or so before the final release of 14.10, and my Quirky Unicorn 6.2 was created just before that.

If you have the "devx" 6.2 PET installed, there is also a Service Pack for that (273KB):
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/x86/packages/pet_packages-unicorn/devx_service_pack-6.2_TO_6.2.1-unicorn.pet

Or, if no "devx" PET already installed, you can install the full 6.2.1 PET (after upgrading to 6.2.1 of course) (121.5MB):
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/x86/packages/pet_packages-unicorn/devx-6.2.1-unicorn.pet


Puppy Linux 6.0 "Tahrpup" released

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We have another official Puppy Linux release!

Since I retired from developing Puppy Linux early in 2014, keen members of the Puppy-community forked my Woof Puppy-builder, naming it woof-CE.

Since then, 01micko has been active with a Puppy built from Slackware packages, named "Slacko Puppy", latest is 5.7 with a new release expected soon.

The guys have also been working on another pup, built from Ubuntu Trusty Tahr binary packages, under the leadership of Phil Broughton (666philb in the Puppy Forum), and this has now reached release status. It is named "Tahrpup" and is version 6.0.

Tahrpup is an official release of Puppy Linux for those who would like the package manager to have compatibility with the large collection of packages in the Ubuntu repository, and able to install and use most of them.
Some default package choices, such as VLC, UI and system operations, are different from the Slacko Puppy build, which may be other reasons users might choose Tahrpup.

Here is the Forum thread with the announcement:
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=96178

Also announced here, with release notes:
http://distro.ibiblio.org/puppylinux/puppy-tahr/iso/tahrpup%20-6.0-CE/release-Tahrpup-6.0-CE.htm

Download from ibiblio:
http://distro.ibiblio.org/puppylinux/puppy-tahr/iso/tahrpup%20-6.0-CE/

As you can see, there is a choice of PAE or no-PAE kernel, both of the live-CD iso files are 199MB (if in doubt, choose the latter).

Direct links:
http://distro.ibiblio.org/puppylinux/puppy-tahr/iso/tahrpup%20-6.0-CE/tahr-6.0-CE_PAE.iso
http://distro.ibiblio.org/puppylinux/puppy-tahr/iso/tahrpup%20-6.0-CE/tahr-6.0-CE_noPAE.iso

There is also the "devx" SFS (114MB):
http://distro.ibiblio.org/puppylinux/puppy-tahr/iso/tahrpup%20-6.0-CE/devx_tahr_6.0.sfs

A European mirror that you might find faster:
http://ftp.nluug.nl/ftp/pub/os/Linux/distr/puppylinux/puppy-tahr/iso/tahrpup%20-6.0-CE/

Forum thread for bug reports:
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=805292#805292


Quirky Tahr to Unicorn upgrade

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If there is anyone out there with Quirky Tahr 6.0.5 installed, you are welcome to give this PET a go. It is a Service Pack to upgrade to Unicorn 6.2. It is a massive upgrade, hence the size.

Upgrade PET (267.6MB):
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/x86/unicorn-6.2/special/service_pack-6.0.5_TO_6.2-tahr_TO_unicorn.pet

There is also a readme:
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/x86/unicorn-6.2/special/readme-tahr-to-unicorn.htm

If, and only if, you have the Tahr "devx" PET installed, that should also be upgraded ():
http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/quirky6/x86/unicorn-6.2/special/devx_service_pack-6.0.5_TO_6.2-tahr_TO_unicorn.pet

I had not actually considered Service Packs to upgrade between a "series", such as from Tahr to Unicorn, but I have now modified the 5create-service-packs and 5create-devx-service-packs scripts in the Quirky build system to be able to do this.


Laptop with Windows 8.1

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A friend who works in a remote town, entrusted me to purchase a cheap laptop for her, and bring it when I next come to visit.

So, today I found an inexpensive sale-price laptop at Dick Smith, an Asus X551MAV-BING-SX391B, with 15.6inch screen, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD, USB3 and DVD burner, for AU$348.

First time that I fired it up, I was somewhat bamboozled by the Metro user interface -- this is the first time that I have used Windows 8.x.

Fortunately, I found this site, which explains how Windows 8.1 can be restored to a reasonably sensible desktop:
http://www.howtogeek.com/167013/how-to-optimize-windows-8.1-for-a-desktop-pc/

Thank goodness. There are all kinds of peculiarities in the 8.x UI, that seem either confusing or unnecessary. I have now set it up so that my friend will feel comfortable using it -- as she is only familiar with XP and 7.

She also entrusted me with her Microsoft Office 2010 DVD, a legal one, with product key, and I installed that. I wondered whether there might be issues with installing a 2010 version of Office in Windows 8.1, but no problem, it runs fine.


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