Niall’s virtual diary archives – Saturday 31st January 2015

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Saturday 31st January 2015: 2.12pm. Location: Dromahane.

Two days ago my work computer stopped booting due to the brittleness of getting all three of Windows, Linux and FreeBSD to triple boot on the same machine. Because Windows and BSD require a primary partition each and Windows wants another primary partition for its boot manager, that consumes all four primary partitions available on MBR partitioning and you end up having to construct brittle chains of multi stage boot loaders. Anyway I bit the bullet and moved over to a 100% UEFI boot, and it's like a breath of fresh air: a small FAT partition holds the boot loaders, one per OS no multi stage needed, and very little chance of OS upgrades breaking boot. I deleted the Windows boot manager partition replacing it with a UEFI one, and luckily Windows was happy (with a bit of coaxing) to use the UEFI partition for both the boot loader and the boot manager. Linux just worked without issue, you simply uninstall the MBR boot packages and install the UEFI boot ones. FreeBSD on the other hand was a pain, they only just added UEFI boot support this release and it's very immature yet, specifically it won't easily boot ZFS yet. I ended up giving up on that and instead got a UEFI boot manager called Refind to give me a menu which also includes booting via MBR which is now just FreeBSD alone, and you can see Refind in action in the picture. This beats the earlier situation where every time I wanted to change the boot I needed to enter the BIOS and toggle the boot type which is a pain. That closes off a fairly stressful two days hopefully - you're always scared to death of losing data when you're ripping out and replacing boot code for three operating systems. Even with a complete hard drive backup, it's the loss of billable hours which worries, I already lost enough income last month due to sickness and I must hand five grand in taxes to the Irish government very shortly. In short, there is a bit of a cash flow squeeze right now :(
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