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How to: UEFI

Page updated March 23, 2016

Desktop PCs and laptops, of the x86 variety (not Apples or Chromebooks), use one of two types of firmware: BIOS or UEFI.
All PCs manufactured prior to 2012 are of the former kind, and these were usually sold with Windows 98, XP, Vista or 7.
From 2012, most PCs came with Windows 8.x installed, and these all have UEFI firmware. Now of course, we have Windows 10, and many 8.x users have been coerced into upgrading to 10.


Firmware is the name of application code and data that is stored permanently in ROM (Read Only Memory). This is a program that is permanently in your computer.
At power-on, the BIOS or UEFI firmware is automatically executed, and this performs various startup operations. One of those operations is to detect where the operating system is and start that.

Many people who have PC experience will know that by pressing a certain key at power-on, the BIOS-Setup would run, which allowed various start-up options to be customized. For example, to turn on or off the ability to boot an operating system from USB or CD.

Most commonly, that special key is ESC, F2 or DEL.

UEFI firmware also has UEFI-Setup, also invoked by F2 or DEL, however, Windows 8.x may have disabled this feature. To enable these hot-keys, you have to turn off a feature of Windows called Fast Startup.

How to turn off Fast Startup

Running Windows 8.x, click the menu at bottom-left of screen, choose Control Panel. Then, follow these links:
"System and Security"
"Power Options"
"Choose what the power buttons do"
Then, you will see this window:

Untick "Turn on fast startup", then click the "Save changes" button.

Updating at March 2016, I have purchased an Asus E200HA netbook, with Windows 10. The window pictured above looks much the same, but I followed a different path to get there. Click the menu button at lower-left of screen, then follow these links:
Settings -> System -> Power & sleep
"Additional power settings"
"Choose what the power buttons do"
"Change settings that are currently unavailable"
...then you will have the window as shown above, and untick "Turn on fast startup".

That's it, next time that you power-on the PC, press ESC, F2 or DEL and the UEFI-Setup will launch. Now, there are a couple of things to do in the UEFI-Setup...


Depending on your PC, you have to press the "hot key" F2, DEL, or on some PCs the ESC key.

Note however, Windows 8.x has an alternative way of launching the UEFI-Setup, that is, an alternative to using the hot-key at power-on. Here is how:
Right-click the menu at bottom-left of screen
"Shut down or sign out"
HOLD DOWN THE SHIFT KEY, click on "Restart" in menu
"Advanced options"
"UEFI Firmware Settings"
CLICK THE "Restart" button
...Your PC will then reboot and the UEFI-Setup will start. Rather a lot of steps, but there you go, just in case you can't use the hot key, for whatever reason.

Having brought up UEFI-Setup, number one thing to do is turn off Secure Boot...

How to turn off Secure Boot

Secure Boot is something that needs to be turned off. In a nutshell, Secure Boot prevents other operating systems from booting, unless they have a special code (issued by Microsoft).
Why should you be prevented from booting other operating systems on your own computer?

Fortunately, it can be turned off. You will need to do this to boot Quirky from USB stick or SD-card.

Note that other modes, such as the Quirky live-CD, full install to partition, and frugal installation, also require Legacy Boot (also known as CSM, Compatibility Support Mode) to be enabled in the UEFI-Setup.

However, Legacy Boot can be a bit tricky, so deferring that one for now. To boot from USB drive or SD-card is easy, it just requires Secure Boot to be turned off.

There is no standard layout to the user interface in UEFI-Setup. So, a snapshot is of limited use. However, you should see something like this:

What you have to do is find the Secure Boot setting, and if possible, set it to Disabled. This option is usually in either the Security tab, the Boot tab, or the Authentication tab.

I have explained the steps, but if you want more explanation with lots of nice pictures, go here:
...covers some differences between Windows 8 and 8.1.

For my new Asus E200HA netbook, it is the ESC key at bootup that launches the UEFI-setup.
I found that although I had already turned of "Fast boot" in Windows 10 (see above), it was still enabled in the UEFI-Setup. So, I disabled both of these (in UEFI-Setup):
Boot -> Fast Boot [disabled]
Security -> Secure Boot Menu -> Secure Boot Control [disabled]
...I then rebooted, holding down ESC, ran "setup" and this time it showed Secure Boot as disabled.

How to enable booting from USB drive

With a UEFI computer, this is probably your easiest mode of booting Quirky. I recommend this, before thinking about live-CD, frugal or full install to a partition. Grab a USB Flash stick and install Quirky on it -- there is a Quirky Installer GUI application, that will download and install Quirky.

Now, you need to tell the UEFI-Setup to recognise and boot from your USB stick.

At this stage, do not enable legacy mode, also known as CSM (Compatibility Support Mode), as this can be tricky. Just find where-abouts in the UEFI-Setup to enable booting your USB stick.

You must have the USB stick plugged in before powering-on and running UEFI-Setup.

Again, the UI layout varies, but there will be some kind of boot-order selection, like this:
usb boot

Using the Quirky Installer, you would have chosen the install-to-usb-drive-with-UEFI-boot option, and this will show up in the UEFI-Setup as "UEFI: <description of drive>", as in the above example "UEFI: USB DISK 2.0 (3821MB)". Use the "+" key to move it to the top, above "Windows Boot Manager".

Notice that there is another entry in the list, "USB DISK 2.0 (3821MB)" (but you will probably only see this if CSM is enabled). This is because the USB drive is setup to boot on both BIOS and UEFI computers. The entry without the "UEFI" in it is the drive's BIOS-mode -- do not select that.

One thing I found, and I also read it somewhere. After making the selection in the UEFI-Setup, and saving, and starting up Quirky, then shutdown. Do a complete power-off, remove the power cord (or turn off the power at the socket), wait a few minutes, power-on the computer again, pressing the hot-key, then check that the USB drive is still number-one in the boot selection order.
The reason for doing this, is that it seems some UEFI firmwares need extra persuasion to make the boot-options setting "stick".

An update, March 2016, using my new Asus E200HA, with my Quirky Linux 64-bit on a USB3 Flash stick, at bootup and pressing the ESC key, a window appeared offering to boot from the Flash stick, without having to go into the Setup -- nice one, Asus -- er, except that it is one-off, didn't stick at next boot. It is necessary to go into the UEFI-Setup and change the boot-order to the USB-stick first -- and I rebooted and reran UEFI-Setup to make sure the boot-order had "stuck".

Barry Kauler
(c) Copyright Barry Kauler 2015. All reproduction rights reserved.