Saturday, January 21, 2017


I have a new computer, which came with Windows 10, and I wanted to install Debian on it. With my previous laptop, I ended up wiping the disk, destroying the EFI partition, using BIOS emulation and a MBR, whether by my clumsiness or the installers (Jessie) I don't know.

Since then I've been wondering: is there any advantage to an EFI install? Should I at some point recreate an EFI partition on my laptop and reinstall Debian (it has been working well for- checks- almost two years)?

So now I was wondering, shall I do the same thing with the new computer? Or try an EFI install keeping the EFI partition?

Is there really any advantage to EFI, beyond handling 2TB disks that computers don't come with yet, at least in my price range?

I found this from Rod Smith at ask ubuntu:

There are several advantages to GPT:
  • Supports disks larger than 2TiB. 
  • Supports partitions larger than 2TiB. 
  • Supports more than four partitions, with no distinction between primary, extended, and logical partitions. 
  • Uses GUIDs as type codes, which means there's less risk of conflicting/duplicate codes. 
  • Uses LBA addressing exclusively, compared to MBR's dual use of LBA and CHS. (Even on MBR, CHS is useless on disks over about 8GB, though, so there's little risk of real conflict on modern hard disks, which are much bigger than this.) 
  • Provides duplicate partition table structures at the start and end of the disk, which makes recovery from some types of user errors, bugs, and disk damage possible. 
  • Provides checksums of important data structures, which enables detection of some types of partition table damage. 
  • Provides a UTF partition description field, so you can give your partitions names. Note that this is independent of the name of the filesystem contained in the partition. 
  • Is used natively by EFI/UEFI firmware.
"Most of these advantages are minor ones for most installations", as Rod says. So no reason to reinstall on the laptop I think, but worth trying an EFI install on the new computer.

In the end, the install was very easy: whether down to my expertise or the installers, this time I do know- the Debian Stretch (alpha) installer identified the EFI partition and used it.

So, it looks like EFI wins, by a hair, and if it doesn't work, and BIOS emulation is available, it's not that much of a big deal to use it, unless any of the above issues are of vital importance.

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