Troubleshooting UEFI related problems

Cannot start installation, installation completes successfully but then BIOS loops at boot device selection, hangs at four penguins after choosing “Test media and install Qubes OS” in GRUB menu

There is some common bug in UEFI implementation, affecting mostly Lenovo systems, but probably some others too. You can try existing workaround:

  1. In GRUB menu1, select “Troubleshoot”, then “Boot from device”, then press e.
  2. At the end of chainloader line add /mapbs /noexitboot.
  3. Perform installation normally, but not reboot system at the end yet.
  4. Go to tty2 (Ctrl-Alt-F2).
  5. Enable /mapbs /noexitboot on just installed system. This step differs between Qubes releases:

    For Qubes 3.1:

  6. Execute mount | grep boot/efi and note device name (first column). It should be something like /dev/sda1.
  7. Execute efibootmgr -v, search for Qubes entry and note its number (it should be something like Boot0001 - 0001 is an entry number).
  8. Replace existing Qubes entry with modified one. Replace XXXX with entry number from previous step, /dev/sda with your disk name and -p 1 with /boot/efi partition number):

    efibootmgr -b XXXX -B
    efibootmgr -v -c -u -L Qubes -l /EFI/qubes/xen.efi -d /dev/sda -p 1 "placeholder /mapbs /noexitboot"
    
  9. Compare new entry with the old one (printed in step 6) - it should only differ in additional options at the end, and look probably something like this:

    Boot0001* Qubes HD(1,GPT,partition-guid-here,0x800,0x64000)/File(\EFI\qubes\xen.efi)p.l.a.c.e.h.o.l.d.e.r. ./.m.a.p.b.s. ./.n.o.e.x.i.t.b.o.o.t.
    

    If instead it looks like:

    Boot0001* Qubes HD(1,0,00000000...0,0x0,0x0)/File(\EFI\qubes\xen.efi)p.l.a.c.e.h.o.l.d.e.r. ./.m.a.p.b.s. ./.n.o.e.x.i.t.b.o.o.t.
    

    then try passing /dev/sda1 or /dev/nvme0n1p1 or whatever is your EFI partition instead of /dev/sda and -p 1.

  10. Now you can reboot the system by issuing reboot command.

    For Qubes 3.2 or later:

  11. Edit /mnt/sysimage/boot/efi/EFI/qubes/xen.cfg (you can use vi editor) and add to every kernel section:

    mapbs=1
    noexitboot=1
    

    Note: You must add these parameters on two separate new lines (one paramater on each line) at the end of each section that includes a kernel line (i.e., all sections except the first one, since it doesn’t have a kernel line).

  12. Now you can reboot the system by issuing reboot command.

System crash/restart when booting installer

Some Dell systems and probably others have another bug in UEFI firmware. And there is another workaround for it:

  1. In GRUB menu1 press e.
  2. At the end of chainloader line add -- efi=attr=uc.
  3. Perform installation normally, but not reboot system at the end yet.
  4. Go to tty2 (Ctrl-Alt-F2).
  5. Execute:

     sed -i -e 's/^options=.*/\0 efi=attr=uc/' /mnt/sysimage/boot/efi/qubes/xen.cfg
    

    or if you’re installing 3.2 execute:

     sed -i -e 's/^options=.*/\0 efi=attr=uc/' /mnt/sysimage/boot/efi/EFI/qubes/xen.cfg
    
  6. Now you can reboot the system by issuing reboot command.

1 If you use rEFInd, you can see 3 options regarding the USB installer. Choose “Fallback Boot Loader” to enter the GRUB menu.

Boot device not recognized after installing

Some firmware will not recognize the default Qubes EFI configuration. As such, it will have to be manually edited to be bootable (this will need to be done after every kernel and Xen update.)

  1. Copy /boot/efi/EFI/qubes/ to /boot/efi/EFI/BOOT/.
  2. Rename /boot/efi/EFI/BOOT/xen.efi to /boot/efi/EFI/BOOT/BOOTX64.efi.
  3. Rename /boot/efi/EFI/BOOT/xen.cfg to /boot/efi/EFI/BOOT/BOOTX64.cfg.

Installation finished but “Qubes” boot option is missing and xen.cfg is empty

In some cases installer fails to finish EFI setup and leave the system without Qubes-specific EFI configuration. In such a case you need to finish those parts manually. You can do that just after installation (switch to tty2 with Ctrl-Alt-F2), or booting from installation media in “Rescue a Qubes system” mode.

  1. Examine /boot/efi/EFI/qubes (if using Qubes installation media, it’s in /mnt/sysimage/boot/efi/EFI/qubes). You should see there 4 files:

    • xen.cfg (empty, size 0)
    • xen-(xen-version).efi
    • vmlinuz-(kernel-version)
    • initramfs-(kernel-version).img
  2. Copy xen-(xen-version).efi to xen.efi:

    cd /mnt/sysimage/boot/efi/EFI/qubes
    cp xen-*.efi xen.efi
    
  3. Create xen.cfg with this content (adjust kernel version, and filesystem locations, below values are based on default installation of Qubes 3.2):

    [global]
    default=4.4.14-11.pvops.qubes.x86_64
    
    [4.4.14-11.pvops.qubes.x86_64]
    options=loglvl=all dom0_mem=min:1024M dom0_mem=max:4096M
    kernel=vmlinuz-4.4.14-11.pvops.qubes.x86_64 root=/dev/mapper/qubes_dom0-root rd.lvm.lv=qubes_dom0/root rd.lvm.lv=qubes_dom0/swap i915.preliminary_hw_support=1 rhgb quiet
    ramdisk=initramfs-4.4.14-11.pvops.qubes.x86_64.img
    
  4. Create boot entry in EFI firmware (replace /dev/sda with your disk name and -p 1 with /boot/efi partition number):

    efibootmgr -v -c -u -L Qubes -l /EFI/qubes/xen.efi -d /dev/sda -p 1 "placeholder /mapbs /noexitboot"