The trouble with UEFI Boot, and a helping hand from a BIOS firmware update

Sometimes a firmware update can be the answer to a tricky problem — but alas, not always.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

I have written a number of times recently about UEFI Boot, and how much trouble I have had getting it set up and getting it to stay the way I want it. 

It is important to remember that system manufacturers sometimes make BIOS firmware updates available, and installing such updates can sometimes be of significant help with existing problems.

An example is my Acer Aspire One 725. I have installed several different Linux distributions on it (openSuSE, Fedora, Ubuntu and Debian), and I had run into two related problems. 

First, when the Linux installation was finished the system still only booted Windows, and second, even when I changed the UEFI Boot parameters in NVRAM (using efibootmgr), the changes would be lost on the next reboot (which was actually the root cause of the first problem). 

How I installed Fedora 18 with UEFI Secure Boot

I noticed not long ago that a BIOS firmware update was available from Acer for this system, so I downloaded and installed that. The first thing that I saw on rebooting was that the BIOS setup menus had been modified, and there was a new option to change the boot targets and sequence. 

A bit of investigation and experimentation with that led me to discover that now I am able to make some changes which stick. It's not completely configurable in the way I would like it to be, but I can define any one of my Linux installations as the default boot target, and as long as I then define Windows Boot Manager as the last boot target, it all sticks. 

Don't ask me why Windows has to be last (although I will say that seems fitting to me), but I found that no matter what else I did, Windows had to be first or last or else the entire configuration would get overwritten with some kind of default setup.

The other case is not so nice. I had basically the same problems on my HP Pavilion dm1-5310ez, I couldn't get any changes to the UEFI Boot configuration to survive across a reboot. 

Today I saw that there was also a BIOS firmware update available for that system, so I downloaded and installed it with high hopes. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed on the cruel rocks of reality. I am still not able to make any permanent changes to the UEFI Boot configuration.

So, the moral of the story is that if you are struggling with UEFI boot, it might be worth your while to check for BIOS updates from time to time. 

Of course, even when updates are available they might not solve the problem you are struggling with, but at the least you are not likely to end up any worse off than you were before.

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