Using GRUB to Set Up the Boot Process with UEFI

Turn Off Secure Boot

BLFS does not have the essential packages to support Secure Boot. To set up the boot process with GRUB for UEFI installed in BLFS, Secure Boot must be turned off from the configuration interface of the firmware. Read the documentation provided by the manufacturer of your system to find out how.

Create an Emergency Boot Disk

Ensure that an emergency boot disk is ready to rescue the system in case the system becomes un-bootable. To make an emergency boot disk with GRUB for an EFI based system, find a spare USB flash drive and create a vfat file system on it. Install dosfstools-4.2 first, then as the root user:



The following command will erase all directories and files in the partition. Make sure your USB flash drive contains no data which will be needed, and change sdx1 to the device node corresponding to the first partition of the USB flash drive. Be careful not to overwrite your hard drive with a typo!

mkfs.vfat /dev/sdx1

Still as the root user, use the fdisk utility to set the first parition of the USB flash drive to be an EFI system partition (change sdx to the device node corresponding to your USB flash drive):

fdisk /dev/sdx

Welcome to fdisk (util-linux 2.37.4).
Changes will remain in memory only, until you decide to write them.
Be careful before using the write command.

Command (m for help): t
Partition number (1-9, default 9): 1
Partition type or alias (type L to list all): uefi
Changed type of partition 'Linux filesystem' to 'EFI System'.

Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered.
Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Syncing disks.

Still as the root user, create a mount point for the EFI partition on the USB flash drive and mount it:

mkdir -pv /mnt/rescue &&
mount -v -t vfat /dev/sdx1 /mnt/rescue

Install GRUB for EFI on the partition:

grub-install --removable --efi-directory=/mnt/rescue --boot-directory=/mnt/rescue/grub

Unmount the partition:

umount /mnt/rescue

Now the USB flash drive can be used as a emergency boot disk on x86-64 UEFI platform. It will boot the system and show the GRUB shell. Then you can type commands to boot your operating systems on the hard drive. To learn how to select the boot device, read the manual of your motherboard or laptop.

Kernel Configuration for UEFI support

Enable the following options in the kernel configuration and recompile the kernel if necessary:

Processor type and features --->
  [*] EFI runtime service support                              [CONFIG_EFI]
  [*]   EFI stub support                                       [CONFIG_EFI_STUB]
Firmware Drivers --->
  EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) Support --->
    < > EFI Variable Support via sysfs                         [CONFIG_EFI_VARS]
    [*] Export efi runtime maps to sysfs                       [CONFIG_EFI_RUNTIME_MAP]
Enable the block layer --->
  Partition Types --->
    [*] Advanced partition selection                           [CONFIG_PARTITION_ADVANCED]
    [*] EFI GUID Partition support                             [CONFIG_EFI_PARTITION]
Device Drivers --->
  Graphics support --->
    Frame buffer Devices --->
      Support for frame buffer devices --->                    [CONFIG_FB]
        [*] EFI-based Framebuffer support                      [CONFIG_FB_EFI]
    Console display driver support --->
      [*] Framebuffer Console support                          [CONFIG_FRAMEBUFFER_CONSOLE]
File systems --->
  Pseudo filesystems --->
    <*/M> EFI Variable filesystem                              [CONFIG_EFIVAR_FS]

The meaning of the configure options:


Although the EFI stub is designed to boot a kernel directly from the UEFI firmware (without a bootloader like GRUB), GRUB needs the kernel to be loaded to support the EFI handover protocol enabled by this option.


Don't use this deprecated option because of a 1024-byte variable size limit. Its function is replaced by CONFIG_EFIVAR_FS.


The combination of these two options allows the kernel to print debug messages (along with Tux logos) at the early stage of the boot process with UEFI.

Find or Create the EFI System Partition

On EFI based system, the bootloaders are installed in a special FAT32 partition called an EFI System Partition (ESP). If your system supports EFI, and a recent version of Linux distribution or Windows is pre-installed, it's likely that the ESP is already created. As the root user, list all the partitions on your hard drive (replace sda with the device corresponding to the appropriate hard drive):

fdisk -l /dev/sda

The Type column of the ESP should be EFI System.

If the system or the hard drive is new, or it's a first time install an UEFI booted OS on the system, the ESP may not exist. In that case, create a new partition, make a vfat file system on it, and set the partition type to EFI system. See the instructions for the emergency boot device above as a reference.



Some (old) UEFI implementations may demand the ESP to be the first partition on the disk.

Now, as the root user, create the mount point for the ESP, and mount it (replace sda1 with the device node corresponding to the ESP):

mkdir -pv /boot/efi &&
mount -v -t vfat /dev/sda1 /boot/efi

Add an entry for the ESP in /etc/fstab, so it will be mounted automatically during system boot:

cat >> /etc/fstab << EOF
/dev/sda1 /boot/efi vfat defaults 0 1

Mount the EFI Variable File System

The installation of GRUB on a UEFI platform requires that the EFI Variable file system, efivarfs, to be mounted. As the root user, mount it if it's not already mounted:

mountpoint /sys/firmware/efi/efivars || mount -v -t efivarfs efivarfs /sys/firmware/efi/efivars

Now add an entry for the efivarfs in /etc/fstab so it will be mounted automatically during system boot:

cat >> /etc/fstab << EOF
efivarfs /sys/firmware/efi/efivars efivarfs defaults 0 0


If the system is not booted with UEFI, the directory /sys/firmware/efi will be missing. In this case you should boot the system in UEFI mode with the emergency boot disk created as above.

Setting Up the Configuration

On UEFI based systems, GRUB works by installing an EFI application (a special kind of executable) into /boot/efi/EFI/[id]/grubx64.efi, where /boot/efi is the mount point of the ESP, and [id] is replaced with an identifier specified in the grub-install command line. GRUB will create an entry in the EFI variables containing the path EFI/[id]/grubx64.efi so the EFI firmware can find grubx64.efi and load it.

grubx64.efi is very lightweight (136 KB with GRUB-2.06~rc1) so it will not use much space in the ESP. A typical ESP size is 100 MB (for Windows boot manager, which uses about 50 MB in the ESP). Once grubx64.efi loaded by the firmware, it will load GRUB modules in the boot partition. The default location is /boot/grub.

As the root user, install the GRUB files into /boot/efi/EFI/LFS/grubx64.efi and /boot/grub. Then set up the boot entry in the EFI variables:

grub-install --bootloader-id=LFS --recheck

If the installation is successful, the output should be:

Installing for x86_64-efi platform.
Installation finished. No error reported.

Issue efibootmgr to recheck the EFI boot configuration. An example of the output is:

BootCurrent: 0000
Timeout: 1 seconds
BootOrder: 0005,0000,0002,0001,0003,0004
Boot0000* ARCH
Boot0001* UEFI:CD/DVD Drive
Boot0002* Windows Boot Manager
Boot0003* UEFI:Removable Device
Boot0004* UEFI:Network Device
Boot0005* LFS

Note that 0005 is the first in the BootOrder, and Boot0005 is LFS. This means that on the next boot, the version of GRUB installed by LFS will be used to boot the system.

Creating the GRUB Configuration File

Generate /boot/grub/grub.cfg to configure the boot menu of GRUB:

cat > /boot/grub/grub.cfg << EOF
# Begin /boot/grub/grub.cfg
set default=0
set timeout=5

insmod part_gpt
insmod ext2
set root=(hd0,2)

if loadfont /boot/grub/fonts/unicode.pf2; then
  set gfxmode=auto
  insmod all_video
  terminal_output gfxterm

menuentry "GNU/Linux, Linux 5.10.17-lfs-10.1"  {
  linux   /boot/vmlinuz-5.10.17-lfs-10.1 root=/dev/sda2 ro

menuentry "Firmware Setup" {

(hd0,2), sda2, and 5.10.17-lfs-10.1 should be replaced to match your configuration.



From GRUB's perspective, the files are relative to the partition are used. If you used a separate /boot partition, remove /boot from the above paths (to kernel and to unicode.pf2). You will also need to change the set root line to point to the boot partition.

The Firmware Setup entry can be used to enter the configuration interface provided by the firmware (sometimes called BIOS configuration).

Dual-booting with Windows

Add a menu entry for Windows into grub.cfg:

cat >> /boot/grub/grub.cfg << EOF
# Begin Windows addition

menuentry "Windows 10" {
  insmod fat
  insmod chain
  set root=(hd0,1)
  chainloader /EFI/Microsoft/Boot/bootmgfw.efi

(hd0,1) should be replaced with the GRUB designated name for the ESP. The chainloader directive can be used to tell GRUB to run another EFI executable, in this case the Windows Boot Manager. You may put more usable tools in EFI executable format (for example, an EFI shell) into the ESP and create GRUB entries for them.

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