A Follow-up post is available here since this post has become viral and controversial some how
As I was preparing to head out to the Ubuntu Oregon Ocelot 11.10 Release Party the other night I received a e-mail from a LoCo member in Salem, Oregon who passed on this message and felt it was an important matter to begin discussing:
Recent articles regarding UEFI and Windows 8 suggest the problem of the former blocking Linux bootloader installation is a matter that will appear at the introduction of the latter. That is not the case. It is on Win 7 machines and blocking GRUB installation now.
My friend recently got an HP s5-1110 with Win 7 installed. UEFI has prevented the installation of GRUB on this machine. I could find no way in the BIOS to disable the feature and so far, as I work my way up the HP tech support ladder, I have found no HP techs who have a clue what I’m talking about.
Just a heads up and a possible topic for discussion at the party. Of course, if anyone has more information on this issue, I’d be glad to hear from you.
The next morning I began looking into UEFI more since I had not done a lot of research but did know it was discovered around the time Windows 8 Developer was released. Anyways Ubuntu has a Community Documentation Article that discusses some workarounds for the UEFI problem and I have personally been considering how greatly the UEFI problem could affect Linux Users. I think there is some positive discussion going on and brainstorming occurring that will allow the Linux community to find reliable workarounds and solutions before UEFI becomes a standard.
Apparently Dell has had UEFI laptops for a while so it is no surprise that a new HP laptop has UEFI by default although with HP doing quite a bit of stuff in the FOSS community I figured they might have provided better support for someone trying to install Linux. Hopefully some sort of legislation will pass that requires manufacturers to list that a certain device is only capable of running a certain OS out of the box and further the whole issue seems very anti-competitive.
Update on Situation as of 4:37 PM Today:
Disturbingly, there were no error messages at all. Neither the Kubuntu installer nor the Boot Repair disk I subsequently tried gave any indication of failure, but the boot partition remained untouched. (I found the Boot Repair disk recommended on the Ubuntu wiki. It is a nice GUI which calls various command line utilities to produce reports on the disk and, of course, grub-install to actually install the bootloader. I must assume that it is, ultimately, grub-install which is failing silently.) The BIOS did have an entry for UEFI, but choosing it produced no response at all.
At this point I have found no firmware updates for the system nor anyone at HP who even knows what UEFI is, much less if there is a way around it.
I’m sure we all appreciate your efforts getting the word out.