Linux Mint 17: Hands-on with UEFI Secure Boot

Summary:The final release of Mint 17 is available, here's how it works for me on UEFI firmware systems.

The final release of Linux Mint 17 (Qiana) was made available over the weekend. The release announcements (Cinnamon/MATE) give a brief overview of the release. Two particularly important bits of information included in the announcement:

  • It is possible to update from a previous Linux Mint release to this new version. Clem has written a fairly lengthy How to Upgrade document, so before whinging about how 'I have to reinstall every new release', read this document.
  • If you have already installed the Mint 17 Release Candidate, all you need to do is install all Level 1 updates.

The release notes (Cinnamon/MATE) contain more technical details about the release. Here you will find one of the rare things that I take issue with in a Linux Mint release. It says:

    "If your system is using secureBoot, turn it off."

This is absolutely not necessary. Period. I have installed Mint 17 on four different systems with UEFI firmware and UEFI Secure Boot enabled, and I had absolutely no problems on any of them. 

I downloaded the ISO images, copied them directly to a USB stick (using dd), and that stick booted with Secure Boot enabled on all four of my systems. I then performed a completely normal installation, no special manipulation or consideration for UEFI or Secure Boot support, and when I was finished the installed system also booted normally, with UEFI Secure Boot still enabled.

There is also some very useful information in the release notes about booting on non-PAE systems — this is a question which has come up in comments here before.

Beyond these few notes, I don't have much more to say. I wrote in more detail about the release candidate when it came out two weeks ago. I don't see any significant changes in this final release. It is, as always, important to get the latest patches and updates after installation in complete. Also keep in mind that the default configuration of Mint Update will only install Level 1-3 updates, in the interest of stability. You can change this in the Preferences dialog:

Update Levels
Linux Mint Update Level Preferences

Alternatively, this release will also show you Level 4 and 5 udpates in the normal update window, so you can manually select them for installation. This can seem a bit tricky or misleading at first, because the updates are ordered by level in the window, so when there are a significant number of Level 1to 3 updates available, you might not see the Level 4 and 5 updates (unless you scroll all the way down through the list). This is what it looks like once the Level 1 to 3 updates have been installed:

Mint Updates
Linux Mint Level 5 Updates

Oh, one last comment about UEFI boot to close this post. As was the case with the previous Mint 16 release, the UEFI boot directory will be named 'ubuntu', so if you want to install Mint 17 and Ubuntu both on the same UEFI boot system, you will have to be careful about that.

The most obvious solution, renaming the boot directory after the first of them is installed, doesn't work (it won't boot that one any more). The solution I have found which does work is to create a second EFI Boot partition, but neither Ubuntu nor Mint will let you specify the UEFI boot partition to use on installation, so you have to copy the boot directory to the second EFI partition after installing. This is not a big deal, if you are "advanced" enough to be installing both distributions on one system, then you should also be able to handle this.

Further reading

Topics: Enterprise Software, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

About

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital... Full Bio

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