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Andrew McNabb 08-25-2011 10:17 PM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
While installing Fedora 16 Alpha, I ran into some problems that turned
out to be caused by the installer formatting with a GPT rather than an
MBR partition table.

I would like to understand the change and its implications, and I have
unsuccessfully tried to track down more information. I haven't been
able to find anything in the Fedora 16 Alpha Release Notes or the Grub2
feature page. The only definitive reference I've been able to find is
the comment "x86 uses GPT disklabels by default on all machines, even
non-EFI" on the Anaconda/Changes wiki page.

There seem to be some complications associated with the change. For
example, Windows can only support GPT on UEFI machines, so dual-booting
appears to be unsupported (I could not find an option for MBR partition
tables in the installer).

Where should I look for more information? Thanks.

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Adam Williamson 08-26-2011 12:11 AM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
On Thu, 2011-08-25 at 16:17 -0600, Andrew McNabb wrote:
> While installing Fedora 16 Alpha, I ran into some problems that turned
> out to be caused by the installer formatting with a GPT rather than an
> MBR partition table.
>
> I would like to understand the change and its implications, and I have
> unsuccessfully tried to track down more information. I haven't been
> able to find anything in the Fedora 16 Alpha Release Notes or the Grub2
> feature page. The only definitive reference I've been able to find is
> the comment "x86 uses GPT disklabels by default on all machines, even
> non-EFI" on the Anaconda/Changes wiki page.
>
> There seem to be some complications associated with the change. For
> example, Windows can only support GPT on UEFI machines, so dual-booting
> appears to be unsupported (I could not find an option for MBR partition
> tables in the installer).
>
> Where should I look for more information? Thanks.

To boot to a GPT disk from BIOS (rather than EFI) you need a BIOS boot
partition. If you use one of the automatic partitioning methods, rather
than manual partitioning, F16's installer will create one for you. If
you choose manual partitioning on a BIOS system and don't create a BIOS
boot partition, anaconda will pop up a (somewhat cryptic) warning.

If you're installing alongside an existing copy of Windows I believe
anaconda ought to leave the disk label alone (MSDOS) anyway, though I'm
not sure we've tested that. It should only write a new one if you're
blowing away any existing partitions on the disk, I think. (IMBW on this
one).
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David Lehman 08-26-2011 12:17 AM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
On Thu, 2011-08-25 at 17:11 -0700, Adam Williamson wrote:
> On Thu, 2011-08-25 at 16:17 -0600, Andrew McNabb wrote:
> > While installing Fedora 16 Alpha, I ran into some problems that turned
> > out to be caused by the installer formatting with a GPT rather than an
> > MBR partition table.
> >
> > I would like to understand the change and its implications, and I have
> > unsuccessfully tried to track down more information. I haven't been
> > able to find anything in the Fedora 16 Alpha Release Notes or the Grub2
> > feature page. The only definitive reference I've been able to find is
> > the comment "x86 uses GPT disklabels by default on all machines, even
> > non-EFI" on the Anaconda/Changes wiki page.
> >
> > There seem to be some complications associated with the change. For
> > example, Windows can only support GPT on UEFI machines, so dual-booting
> > appears to be unsupported (I could not find an option for MBR partition
> > tables in the installer).
> >
> > Where should I look for more information? Thanks.
>
> To boot to a GPT disk from BIOS (rather than EFI) you need a BIOS boot
> partition. If you use one of the automatic partitioning methods, rather
> than manual partitioning, F16's installer will create one for you. If
> you choose manual partitioning on a BIOS system and don't create a BIOS
> boot partition, anaconda will pop up a (somewhat cryptic) warning.

This is changing from a suggestion to a requirement, based on the fact
that grub2 will not even try to install itself without the bios boot
partition.

>
> If you're installing alongside an existing copy of Windows I believe
> anaconda ought to leave the disk label alone (MSDOS) anyway, though I'm
> not sure we've tested that. It should only write a new one if you're
> blowing away any existing partitions on the disk, I think. (IMBW on this
> one).

This is correct.

It's also true that if you create an msdos/mbr partition table on your
disk prior to installation and then choose any option except for "Use
All Space" (or "clearpart --all" in kickstart) anaconda will not destroy
your existing partition table.

> --
> Adam Williamson
> Fedora QA Community Monkey
> IRC: adamw | Twitter: AdamW_Fedora | identi.ca: adamwfedora
> http://www.happyassassin.net
>


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Andrew McNabb 08-26-2011 02:13 AM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
On Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 07:17:58PM -0500, David Lehman wrote:
>
> It's also true that if you create an msdos/mbr partition table on your
> disk prior to installation and then choose any option except for "Use
> All Space" (or "clearpart --all" in kickstart) anaconda will not destroy
> your existing partition table.

But if you first install Fedora to a clean disk, then it will never be
possible to later install Windows, right?

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Adam Williamson 08-26-2011 03:12 AM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
On Thu, 2011-08-25 at 21:13 -0500, Andrew McNabb wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 07:17:58PM -0500, David Lehman wrote:
> >
> > It's also true that if you create an msdos/mbr partition table on your
> > disk prior to installation and then choose any option except for "Use
> > All Space" (or "clearpart --all" in kickstart) anaconda will not destroy
> > your existing partition table.
>
> But if you first install Fedora to a clean disk, then it will never be
> possible to later install Windows, right?

One thing I didn't answer - intentionally, as I don't know the answer -
is whether Windows will boot if you have a BIOS boot partition on a
GPT-labelled drive. It may do.
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Karel Zak 08-26-2011 02:29 PM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
On Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 08:12:21PM -0700, Adam Williamson wrote:
> On Thu, 2011-08-25 at 21:13 -0500, Andrew McNabb wrote:
> > On Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 07:17:58PM -0500, David Lehman wrote:
> > >
> > > It's also true that if you create an msdos/mbr partition table on your
> > > disk prior to installation and then choose any option except for "Use
> > > All Space" (or "clearpart --all" in kickstart) anaconda will not destroy
> > > your existing partition table.
> >
> > But if you first install Fedora to a clean disk, then it will never be
> > possible to later install Windows, right?
>
> One thing I didn't answer - intentionally, as I don't know the answer -
> is whether Windows will boot if you have a BIOS boot partition on a
> GPT-labelled drive. It may do.

Windows and GPT FAQ:

Q. Can Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 read, write,
and boot from GPT disks?

A. Yes, all versions can use GPT partitioned disks for data.
Booting is only supported for 64-bit editions on UEFI-based
systems.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg463525.aspx


Karel

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Przemek Klosowski 08-26-2011 02:40 PM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
On 08/25/2011 08:11 PM, Adam Williamson wrote:

> To boot to a GPT disk from BIOS (rather than EFI) you need a BIOS boot
> partition. If you use one of the automatic partitioning methods, rather
> than manual partitioning, F16's installer will create one for you. If
> you choose manual partitioning on a BIOS system and don't create a BIOS
> boot partition, anaconda will pop up a (somewhat cryptic) warning.

FWIW, there are bugs on Macintoshes of the sort "can't have GPT, but
also can't have MBR", and the Linux-on-Mac people came up with the
hybrid GPT/MBR partitioning, i.e. partition data that looks
simultaneously like a valid GPT and MBR:

http://www.rodsbooks.com/gdisk/hybrid.html
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Andrew McNabb 08-26-2011 07:35 PM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
On Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 04:29:55PM +0200, Karel Zak wrote:
>
> Windows and GPT FAQ:
>
> Q. Can Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 read, write,
> and boot from GPT disks?
>
> A. Yes, all versions can use GPT partitioned disks for data.
> Booting is only supported for 64-bit editions on UEFI-based
> systems.
>
> http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg463525.aspx

I don't know for sure, but this may be a case where progress is more
important than compatibility. In any case, it would be comforting to
have this issue documented in the Fedora 16 Release Notes.

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Al Dunsmuir 08-26-2011 08:58 PM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
On Friday, August 26, 2011, 3:35:52 PM, Andrew McNabb wrote:
> On Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 04:29:55PM +0200, Karel Zak wrote:
>>
>> Windows and GPT FAQ:
>>
>> Q. Can Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 read, write,
>> and boot from GPT disks?
>>
>> A. Yes, all versions can use GPT partitioned disks for data.
>> Booting is only supported for 64-bit editions on UEFI-based
>> systems.
>>
>> http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg463525.aspx

> I don't know for sure, but this may be a case where progress is more
> important than compatibility. In any case, it would be comforting to
> have this issue documented in the Fedora 16 Release Notes.

I disagree. This is a bogus argument, similar to those which have
repeatedly stripped away Fedora's ability to support older hardware
(especially video) in the past few releases. Hopefully Ajax's recent
work on software 3D should restore that a bit so those of us with
older but still useful systems can run Gnome 3's full Shell.

The magnitude of impact depends on whether the typical Linux user who
also runs some variant of Windows is at those levels. In my
experience personally and in a corporate environment, that would
typically be 32-bit XP.

Those folks who pay the Danegeld to upgrade to the later Windows
releases on a given system are less likely to also be Linux users.

On systems where 32-bit is XP is running, one by definition is running
with a disk of 2 TB or less. Fedora installation must by default do
the right thing. We need to agree on what that happens to be.

On a related topic, why in heaven's name is Fedora not including the
simple grub setup commands that are familiar to Ubuntu users? Making
folks remember a long form instead of providing a few helper scripts
seems short-sighted at best, and arrogant/NIH at worst.



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Lars Seipel 08-27-2011 02:04 AM

GPT in Fedora 16
 
On Friday, August 26, 2011 04:58:22 PM Al Dunsmuir wrote:
> On systems where 32-bit is XP is running, one by definition is running
> with a disk of 2 TB or less. Fedora installation must by default do
> the right thing. We need to agree on what that happens to be.

On systems with legacy operating systems installed Fedora does not touch the
partition table at all. On all other systems GPT is the way to go I'd say...

> On a related topic, why in heaven's name is Fedora not including the
> simple grub setup commands that are familiar to Ubuntu users? Making
> folks remember a long form instead of providing a few helper scripts
> seems short-sighted at best, and arrogant/NIH at worst.

Are those commands included in the upstream Grub 2 tarball? In this case you
should file a bug to get them included in the Fedora package I think. If not,
you have a perfect example why people should improve software by working
upstream.

btw, I just installed F16 on an EFI machine and got Grub Legacy. Are there any
major problems with Grub 2's EFI support?
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