Computers can drive us all crazy before we know it so it's better to start thinking more about how we use them and, more importantly, how we design and implement them. There are these times where stars align and mayhem is emminent.
Our horror story today starts with a pretty mundane task. Changing a disk. Cloning my operating system and performing what would be considered trivial in the year 2020. So let's take this from the begining.
For my personal computer I use a Lenovo Thinkcentre M700 tiny. It's a nice little machine, fast enough for me and keeps a low profile on my desk. Given that I find it hard to juggle around my two monitors this little thing really works for me. I was using a very small (120GB) SSD, and since I wanted to start over with GNU Guix, I need some more space and I bought a 500GB one to move over. At the same time, I don't really have the time to configure a new operating system. My thought was to clone my current installation of Parabola and then later I would install Guix.
For this work I decided to use the battle-tested liveCD (or rather liveUSB) that is developed by the fine folks at Clonezilla. I happily burn ("ahem") my USB and proceed to try to boot it up. It seems unrecognisable from the BIOS and I'm unable to boot from it. So I go into the settings and enable the dreaded CSM ("Compatibility Support Module") option. This would prove to be the start of my downfall.
At this point I'm happily creating an image of my disk and succesfully restoring to my new one. I have to give a head up for Clonezilla since the whole procedure was really easy and problem-free. I try to install grub, but I realize that I can't install EFI grub from a MBR medium. Seem reasonable, but I hope I can boot from another USB, chroot and fix without any problems.
Me naively rebooting and trying to boot into any EFI system was the result of all this. Nothing. Even my previous disk (the one I cloned), was refusing to boot and was inaccesible by any means. I try to disable CSM. Nothing again. So I take the path of least (?) resistance. I restore all my partitions to MBR, gdisk ftw. I install grub the traditional way. I'm back in. I now have a computer that can only boot from hacky MBR sectors, a modern retro machine.
And to be honest I'm cool with this. But it was not a fun evening, trying to understand what happened. I would much prefer to spend it configuring Guix, it would had take the same time, I was trying to make the damn computer boot EFI systems. And the resolution is more of a loss than a victory.
I don't know if a firmware update will resolve this. I read so many horror stories for CSM in the web that I don't hope it would. In the end dear reader, just keep this in mind. If you don't want to forever lose the ability to boot from modern partition schemes and you own a Lenovo Thinkcentre M700 tiny, stay away from CSM.
Is this Eris?