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[#] Mon Nov 09 2020 16:20:11 EST from zooer

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I purchased a new Dell, I had a few issues in the BIOS trying to get the boot from USB option on the boot order menu but was able to get it to do so.

I tried installing Ubuntu, and it seemed to freeze on the screen where the installation to which drive option came up.  It were not any drives listed or locations listed.  I couldn't click backwards or continue. I waited a few minutes, the computer didn't seem to respond.  As I hit the power button, I see an error pop up on the screen but I had no idea what it said.  I rebooted into Windows.  I was going to work on it in the morning.

The next morning the computer had updated the BIOS and I could no longer find a boot from USB option.

 



[#] Mon Nov 09 2020 17:53:06 EST from ParanoidDelusions

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A system will not usually update the BIOS without the user initiating a BIOS flash directly - unless it is a Mac. 

I mean, like, in 30+ years of IT experience, I've never had a BIOS update to a PC *pushed* to me. 

And most of my work was in Power Edge based datacenters. 

And when Linux won't install on an Intel PC - it is almost always bad RAM, in my experience. Windows seems to care less... of course, this may be why Windows tends to crash more often. 

 



[#] Mon Nov 09 2020 19:03:02 EST from zooer

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The BIOS update was in with the other updates.  I didn't notice the update with the list of updates. I haven't used Windows in a long time.

That being said, I think I can downgrade to the older version and try again.

 

I have no idea what the problem was when I tried to install Linux. 



[#] Mon Nov 09 2020 19:20:18 EST from LoanShark

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From the Dell Update/Service apps or from Windows Update? I'm typing this from a Dell laptop right now, but never had it do BIOS updates unless I knew about it. It's such a dangerous procedure that can brick the machine if power fails, so it shouldn't be automated without a lot f warnings and disclaimers.

In any case, to boot from USB you may also need to enable a USB Legacy option. I've been dealing with that a lot this week on my ASUS desktop.

If it's a legacy-free design, you will need to use RUFUS to write a Ubuntu USB stick with GPT partition table that can boot in UEFI-only (no CSM) mode.

[#] Mon Nov 09 2020 19:56:22 EST from zooer

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I downloaded the previous version of the BIOS, version 1.0.3.  The machine performed the downgrade when it booted. 

The first time I did it, I hit F12 at reboot, there was no USB option and no option in the BIOS configuration to turn it on.

When it rebooted it reinstalled the 1.0.4 BIOS.

I tried it a second time and let it start into windows without pressing any keys.  I was wondering if it had to "clean up" any files after the downgrade.

When it finished booting a desktop notification appeared in the notification box saying that BIOS version 1.0.4 will be installed on the next restart.  It did not ask if I wanted this, the notification appeared on its own without confirmation.

When I rebooted it reinstalled version 1.0.4.  

The USB option does not appear, it is the Windows bootloader or the NIC, those are my only two choices.  I was able to get the USB option at one time.  

I tried following this 

https://www.dell.com/support/article/en-us/sln301754/how-to-install-ubuntu-and-windows-8-or-10-as-a-dual-boot-on-your-dell-pc?lang=en

My BIOS screens are different from the screens shown on this page, but close enough for me to find where to activate the USB option.

The 1.0.4 options are different from the 1.0.3 options.  Perhaps I need to install 1.0.1 of the BIOS but I am sure it will automatically install 1.0.4

 



[#] Mon Nov 09 2020 20:02:22 EST from zooer

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I used the default bootable USB creator that comes with Ubuntu to create the USB stick.  I still have my Linux box.



[#] Mon Nov 09 2020 21:14:35 EST from LoanShark

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What I'm trying to say here is that the BIOS should always have the capability to boot from USB, though that may have to be enabled in some way. Everything else you're saying is beyond my experience; as far as I know, "that shouldn't happen", but it did. [cue twilight zone music.]

Sounds like it's new so you can probably call dell support (LOL)

[#] Mon Nov 09 2020 21:25:44 EST from ParanoidDelusions

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Have you tried calling Dell technical support? 



[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 06:39:21 EST from zooer

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In the BIOS there was an option to navigate to a firmware file on the USB but not to boot from the USB directly.

 

I have not called technical support.  



[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 08:58:22 EST from LoanShark

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2020-11-09 21:25 from ParanoidDelusions
Have you tried calling Dell technical support? 


Yes. They can be quite helpful.

[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 08:59:53 EST from LoanShark

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In the BIOS there was an option to navigate to a firmware file on the
USB but not to boot from the USB directly.

Isn't it just the boot order menu, though? A connected USB, if the machine sees a UEFI image on it, is a bootable disk just like any other.

If your PC is brand new, they are phasing out CSM, so it will only be able to boot your image if it's formatted GPT with UEFI executable.

[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 09:38:24 EST from ParanoidDelusions

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Tue Nov 10 2020 08:59:53 EST from LoanShark
In the BIOS there was an option to navigate to a firmware file on the
USB but not to boot from the USB directly.

Isn't it just the boot order menu, though? A connected USB, if the machine sees a UEFI image on it, is a bootable disk just like any other.

If your PC is brand new, they are phasing out CSM, so it will only be able to boot your image if it's formatted GPT with UEFI executable.

In general won't most PCs allow you to disable requiring GPT and UEFI to boot from a traditional boot drive, anyhow? 

I don't understand all this new BIOS and partition stuff - but I muddle my way through it. I know that it is supposed to make things more secure for us as end users, but it seems to make it easier for the manufacturers to limit what we can do, and Apple seems to love this kind of stuff - and this MBP I'm on would boot Windows and Linux great, but wouldn't boot OS X at all, until I did a bunch of magic rituals including holding multiple buttons harder than a bar chord down while hitting the power button at just the right time. Now it works. 

 

 



[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 11:11:59 EST from LoanShark

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That's weird. I haven't had those kinds of problems with the two MBP's I had for my previous job. Hardware eventually got flaky on the first one, but Windows laptops are big offenders in that area too.

In any case, I had a bit of a disaster on the Dell laptop, which I am currently typing from, today. I usually run Linux on it, but it's a dual boot Windows setup. So I noticed that there was a BIOS update available with several security fixes. Ok, great. Boot into Windows. Let Dell Update do its thing, it installs about 9 software updates, but fails on the BIOS because I have an admin password set. OK, great. That's expected, I've dealt with it before. Download the manual BIOS installer from Dell's support website, it asks for the BIOS password. Everything flashes great.

He's where the trouble starts. Eager to install all the updates, I double checked Dell Update, and it still wants to install SupportAssist OS Recovery Tools. That fails. Hmm. Go over to the SupportAssist app, which also has an updater, and do it that way. That eventually "succeeds."

But it completely wiped my EFI boot partition! Just deleted every file in there, all the Ubuntu boot loader and the Windows boot loader as well. So at that point, the machine was stuck on a firmware-based screen that wants to download a recovery package from Dell, but requires a hardwired Ethernet connection to do so, this ultrabook doesn't even have an Ethernet port; I would have to go shopping for a USB adapter that is compatible with this BIOS(?)

So, back into the BIOS. I happen to have both Ubuntu and Windows install media kicking around from some work I was doing on my ASUS desktop just a couple days ago, upgrading the boot drive to NVMe. In order to boot from USB (zooer take note), I did have to check a box labelled something like "Enable USB Boot", surprisingly enough. The windows install USB boots but fails to get anywhere, so I can't recover my Windows bootloader quite yet until I figure out what's going on. The ubuntu install media worked fine and I was able to follow a Debian wiki page describing how to reinstall grub. So, I have recovered the Linux side of the system, but Windows eludes me for the moment.

*** Back on topic:

In a UEFI system, CSM (Compatibility Support Module) must be enabled in order to boot from a legacy boot-sector media (non-UEFI mode.) The plan in the industry is to phase out CSM because it weakens the security model of the system and can theoretically make it easier to build firmware rootkits or subvert Secure Boot. Also in line with the general trend to remove Legacy Stuff. It may already have been removed from the newest laptops, my desktop still has CSM but in order to boot from SYSLINUX media, CSM has to be enabled and there are a few things that need to be set correctly under the Legacy USB section. If it sounds like it's a compatibility thing, turn it on.

[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 11:18:32 EST from LoanShark

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I don't understand all this new BIOS and partition stuff - but I
muddle my way through it. I know that it is supposed to make things

Same. It took me several tries to get Windows partitions transferred the last two times I upgraded the main storage device. This is all quite a bit more complex than MBR-style boot ever was, and there's too much time lost messing around with windows command-line programs `bcdedit` or `bcdboot` and buggy partition migrators that fail to deal with important details. (Avoid Samsung Data Migration tool, it just doesn't work.)

[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 11:20:15 EST from LoanShark

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with important details. (Avoid Samsung Data Migration tool, it just
doesn't work.)

EaseUS finally worked for me for this use case, but it's made in China. Other options like Paragon are made in Russia. And Microsoft's own System Image Recovery is not robust enough to deal with all possible hardware migration scenarios.

[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 11:46:57 EST from LoanShark

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successfully restored my Windows boot. For unknown reasons, booting the install media Just Worked on the second try; maybe because I had installed an ubuntu bootloader in the interim and that made it recognize the EFI partition? That should not have been required.

As usual, the automated "Startup Repair" does not work. For cases like this, you have to run bcdboot from the command line option.

[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 11:48:09 EST from LoanShark

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As usual, the automated "Startup Repair" does not work. For cases like

this, you have to run bcdboot from the command line option.

This is never preferred because it doesn't set up WinRE. But it'll do in a pinch.

[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 12:18:29 EST from ParanoidDelusions

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So, getting a bit more technical - when I got this Mac, the guy was saying it only powered up if you held the power button down for 10 seconds then attached the charger. He was moving and said he didn't have time to figure this one out. He didn't have a charger, it was covered in gaudy stickers, I offered him $80 instead of $100. It is a MBP 2011 i7 15" with Radeon - and they're notorious for burning out their GPU. 

Got it home, found a charger on Amazon for $15, ordered it, plugged it in. 4gb of memory and a 500 gb magnetic drive. It booted, into an ASUS Windows (7 or 8) partition. He had told me it worked fine with Linux or Windows. 

Booted into Mac Internet Recovery - and the only option was to install Lion. Tried that, and it went through the initial setup, then reported, "Cannot install the required components." Search said this is a common issue. A number of things were suggested. Most likely was "create install media on USB and set date to a date around when target version of OS X was released, because the certs are bad and Apple won't update their date." But this requires an offline install, because if you do an Internet Recovery - you pull down the new date when you connect to Apple's servers. The hoops required for a *typical* Mac user are getting pretty stacked toward, "just go down to the Apple store and buy a new MBP," right? We're expecting an awful lot from end-users who bought because, "it just works." And the Apple store won't even try to help with machines this old, I hear. 

I'd like to add here, I'm not a Mac user at all, and not really a *nix user either. I'm not totally intimidated - I was one of the few people who got Citadel running on Pi a couple of years ago and even wrote up a "howto" document for it... and that required jumping through some *nix hoops. But I'm good at reading different sites and figuring out the good and bad advice and putting that together and following the steps to get a difficult thing solved with computers - and that goes back to running Cit80 on a MIC504 in the mid 80s. In my career, I tended to stumble into solutions for problems that were vexing far smarter Technology people than me - mostly through just trying again and again until something works, if you ask me - and maybe being dumb enough to try some things that smarter people *wouldn't* try because they *knew* that would never work. I practice IT more like a black magic than a science. I just keep mixing the potion until it either works or kills something. 

So, a big part of the problem was you needed another Mac to download the .dmg and make a USB bootable image. I had been messing around with a Hackintosh (that can for some reason see the Apple Store, iTunes - Apple seems to think it is a genuine Mac, and I don't know why...) running in a VM on my Surface Pro 5th Gen i7 on Virtual Box. I was having trouble getting it to see and mount Mac formatted USB drives (GUID HFS or whatever they need to be...) Sitting there bemoaning only having one Intel Mac - when I realized I have a G4 Quicksilver OS X PPC and that it didn't have to be an INTEL Mac as long as it was an OS X Mac. That was a major breakthrough for me - and I got a Lion USB booter built. 

Had to jump through a few additional hoops. The drive was formatted with a EFI partition from Time Machine that seemed to be causing problems, but diskpart /clean on the Surface got rid of that. Set the time to 2011 or whatever, rebooted, it saw the USB OS X Lion install drive, and installed. 

Got that working, and tried to go to El Capitan. That install took forever, rebooted, and returned me to the same symptoms I was getting earlier (flashing folder with a Prohibited icon, I think. Or maybe the Question mark. One of those, "Oh, you are EFFED now!" icons, anyhow...) 

And I mean, I'm a couple of days into it at this point... 8 hour days of just banging my head against the wall, pulling drives, RAM, putting it back, reformatting on PCs, reading, reading, reading - about countless Mac users and countless possible fixes. It was a sinking feeling. It was worse when it would no longer install Lion from the "Damnit I Know This is Good," USB that had JUST fixed the same problem. 

Zapping PRAM eventually was the fix for that, along with the date fix. Evidently something going on in the El Cap update changed something in PRAM that prevented me from recovering to Lion. 

So, I grabbed a bootleg copy of El Capitan once I got Lion installed again and THAT worked great. But now I'm running off a dubious copy from the web. Apple still sees the real Mac as legitimate, though. 

But I can't leave good enough alone, so I go to Sierra from the official Mac DMG. Had a similar problem, but it wasn't as catastrophic. Eventually got onto Sierra. Then tried to go to High Sierra. Similar problem. Decided that Sierra is good enough. App store displays all images, iCloud works, I can get into iTunes... and along the way I found out that the 2011 MPB can't go to Mojave, which was my goal... so, at that point, any Intel OS X that works, works for my other reasons for wanting an Intel Mac. Why keep creating agony for myself. 

At some point here, I had swapped in 16gb of DDR3 and a 500GB SSD from the MPB 2012 i5 (that would run Mojave) that I bought from WalMart that died on me. I also learned that this generation of Unibody Mac that was incredibly thin for its era tends to have poor thermal dissipation and poorly applied thermal paste that dries out. Pretty sure Steam playing Bards Tale Remastered and FSUAE are what killed that machine. 

Also, the battery was bone dead - and I learned that a MBP with a dead battery perceives itself in an overheating state and throttles down the processor significantly. So, every OS I had installed was working, but running as slow as the Surface Pro VM (which only has 1 core and 8gb of memory available). Actually, if I disabled chrome and motion on the Hackintosh VM, it was running Mojave faster than a genuine i7 with 16gb was running El Capitan. So, another gamble on an aftermarket MBP battery (Ninjabatteries) - and suddenly, the machine was running really well. Oh, also, I guess the 85w charger isn't enough to provide peak power to the Radeon and i7, so the battery adds the additional wattage when necessary and you could NEVER theoretically hit peak performance on this MBP with a dead battery. Added SMCFanControl, and a couple other task bar monitoring/control utilities and finally, got a laptop cooler. Cleaned off the stickers - which was a nightmare, bought new rubber feet and the missing screws for the bottom case. The bottom case S/N doesn't match the logic board S/N - so the whole thing is absolutely a salvage title Benz bought from a shady Russian guy at this point. 

I don't think there are *any* actual physical problems with the machine at this point, although it may develop the Radeongate issue at some point. I suspect it bricked on an update at some point and never got enough use to develop the Radeongate issue - and/or the original owner probably wasn't using anything that really put stress on the GPU. Someone probably had a top of the line i7 Mac they were using to do Word, mail, and Facebook. 

I've never seen a PC with these kind of issues and most of them seem to come to intentional Apple design and engineering choices. Macs are neither easier, nor more reliable than PCs. The build quality of EXTERNAL things, the case, keyboard, hinges, LCD, buttons, ports - seem to be higher quality than a lot of PC component style laptops. But the proprietary nature of them means perfectly good machines seem dead to average people, and even to fairly skilled technical folks. 

Of course, the PC platform is adopting some of these things, and so we're seeing similar issues - and again, they're telling us it is protection from rootkits, and that may be true... 

But it achieves this by making it difficult to do simple things, IMHO.  












Tue Nov 10 2020 11:11:59 EST from LoanShark

That's weird. I haven't had those kinds of problems with the two MBP's I had for my previous job. Hardware eventually got flaky on the first one, but Windows laptops are big offenders in that area too.



[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 12:46:46 EST from ParanoidDelusions

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An example, is that the CPU and GPU are on the bottom of the logic board - which means you have to disassemble the whole thing, including removing all cables from the logic board, to reapply thermal grease on GPU and CPU. 

This design choice was made to make the MBP Unibody so thin - but I also think that it was done to put the heatsinks in contact with the aluminum body, thereby using the case itself to spread and dissipate heat. 

Which is why Macs became notorious for getting so hot that they could actually cause burns if you, you know, used your laptop on your lap. 

So they came out with laptop coolers that plug into your usb and raise the laptop off of your lap while also providing extra cooling onto the laptop itself. 

That look like THIS: 

5 Best Laptop Cooling Stands Reviewed 2017 | Efficient ...

I dunno... maybe, make the laptop a little thicker with better heat dissipation so that you don't end up carrying something like THIS around too so it doesn't cook itself and you? 

But it wouldn't have looked a magical and revolutionary. 



[#] Tue Nov 10 2020 12:47:51 EST from ParanoidDelusions

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It is a beautiful design, though - I love the way it *looks*. Very German luxury. 



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