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Author Topic: [SOLVED] Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop  (Read 2609 times)

Offline Lee

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[SOLVED] Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« on: August 12, 2015, 02:46:22 PM »
I've got an interesting situation that has me stumped primarily because I'm a total noob about EFI.

I recently was given a fairly late model (maybe a year and a half old) HP laptop that is in very good shape except that the screen is physically broken.  It has a decent cpu, plenty of RAM and a decent sized hard disk.  Even the battery works - you don't often see that in a hand-me-down laptop!

It seems a shame to toss it, but it also seems a shame to drop the better part of hundred dollars on a new LCD (especially considering I've had bad experiences doing surgery on laptops in the past) for something that will be essentially a toy.

So it seems like this would make a nice low-power headless web server or something like that if I install TC on it... but...

  • it has Windows 8 installed (maybe 8.1)
  • it uses EFI booting
  • an external monitor works but does not activate until after any opportunity to access the system setup screens has gone by - the first visible display is the Windows 8 log in screen
  • The original owner (a relative) has apparently forgotten their Windows login password - the one they said to try doesn't work
  • chntpw seemed to work for resetting the password (I put the drive in a different system for that) but I still can't log in
  • the system currently does not seem to even try to boot from a CD or from a USB stick

On the "plus" side...
  • there's a small but apparently completely unused partition on the drive
  • one of the utilities I was playing with (probably chntpw) seemed to indicate that secure boot is turned off - although that would have been determined from looking only at the hard drive, which was in a different system at the time
  • there's no need to try to recover anything from the drive - if wiping it would simplify things, that's not a problem

While I can do a "regular" TC install in my sleep, I have no idea what requirements or constraints there might be when the system will use EFI at startup.  Can anyone advise on how to do a manual install of TC (and whatever additional boot loader I might need) and what config files I might need to alter to make TC the default boot option?

I'll put the laptop drive back into my regular PC this evening so I can post the partitioning layout and directories on the boot partition if needed.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 06:19:56 PM by Rich »
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Offline gerald_clark

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 03:21:19 PM »
Isn't there a function key to turn on the VGA port?
You should be able to use this key to turn on the VGA port so you can enter the BIOS.

Offline Lee

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 10:32:31 PM »
It looks like the key combination <fn><F4> should do the trick but in fact nothing happens - the LED on the external monitor continues to slowly flash, indicating "no signal".  The external monitor only shows the login screen if I press the power button and then immediately close the screen - which, of course, covers the keyboard.  If I keep the screen open so as to use the keyboard, the system apparently considers the built in screen to be the primary display only an empty solid color background is sent to the external monitor regardless of any keys I tried pressing so far.

My external USB keyboard lacks the <fn> key so I don't know what I might do to try getting the system to use the external monitor earlier in the boot-up.

As additional reference information, the laptop is an HP model 2000-2d60Dy
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Offline curaga

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2015, 01:52:58 AM »
Check if HP has manuals online for the laptop. Many EFI firmwares support normal BIOS disks, if the manual confirms this (or you have a spare disk) you could just wipe it, install TC with SSH and see what happens.

With regards to the boot, Windows 8 and newer default to a hibernation restore, in effect blocking you from entering the bios. There are instructions online on how to force it to do a "real" reboot, but that requires being logged in I believe.
The only barriers that can stop you are the ones you create yourself.

Offline Lee

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2015, 08:46:13 AM »
Indeed there is some online documentation at HP.  The search for it led me to realize that I mis-read or mis-typed the model number.  The last character is actually an 'x', not a 'y': 2000-2d60Dx

The docs indicate that boot-time  options are accessed with the escape key:

esc F10 for BIOS/setup utility
esc F2  for diagnostics
esc F9  for boot options
esc fn  for "system info"

I'll still likely have to start up with the lid closed to see anything on the external monitor, but at least I can try something without the "fn" key.  I'll report back this evening.
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Offline Lee

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2015, 09:32:58 PM »
No luck.  It looks like anything that prevents booting directly into the OS also prevents switching to the external monitor, even when I close the cover immediately after pressing the power button.

The various escape key sequences shown above are probably working, but I can't see the resulting displays because they are on the broken built-in screen.



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Offline curaga

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2015, 03:39:29 AM »
I take you don't have an extra disk, but perhaps you have enough space for a compressed backup?

dd if=/dev/sdX | gzip -9 | wc -c

This will tell how much space a gzip-compressed backup would use. You can also try bzip2 and xz, less space but more time. With the backup you could then try a normal install.
The only barriers that can stop you are the ones you create yourself.

Offline Lee

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2015, 07:25:25 AM »
Correct on both counts - no spare drive but I do (probably) have enough room for a compressed image like that.

I had deferred moving the drive out to my serve-statsion while I tried everything I could with the drive still in place in the laptop.

So the next step will be to image the disk to a backup file, then do a normal (for me) install as on a fresh disk, cross my fingers and see if it works.
32 bit core4.7.7, Xprogs, Xorg-7.6, wbar, jwm  |  - Testing -
PPR, data persistence through filetool.sh          |  32 bit core 8.0 alpha 1
USB Flash drive, one partition, ext2, grub4dos  | Otherwise similar

Offline pq5190362

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2015, 03:23:37 AM »
2000-2d60Dx

Seems to have an HDMI output as well as a VGA output?

Have you already tried both outputs to connect an external monitor?

And what about the defective internal notebook display?

Is the defective internal notebook display still connected to the mainboard/GPU?

Maybe disconnecting the internal notebook display connector cable might help?

And since curaga said that Win8(.1) might prevent the notebook from doing a full reboot, have you already tried to boot without the HDD/SSD?

Just saying.

Offline pq5190362

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2015, 03:34:49 AM »
PS:

Maybe disconnecting the internal notebook display connector cable might help?

Found by googling "hp notebook bios external monitor" (also see video description):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTFxwVxF_a8

 ;D ;D ;D

 ;)
« Last Edit: August 15, 2015, 03:39:23 AM by pq5190362 »

Offline Lee

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2015, 01:06:35 PM »
HDMI: yes, there is an HDMI port but no, I don't have any HDMI monitors.    :(    I've got vga monitors coming out my ears and a DVI or two but no hdmi.

The internal notebook display is still connected...  I've been a fix-it guy all my life - cars, lawn mowers, guns, VCR's microwave ovens, computers - you name it.  But I have never had more frustration than when I've tried to do anything with a laptop beyond what can be done via the "user accessible" panels on the bottom.  Yeah, if I have to I'll open it up like in that youtube video (*), but at that point I'll probably just spend the money and replace the screen.

I have tried powering up the laptop with the HD out - it still refuses to boot from either the optical drive or the USB.

Having enough free space for a disk image on another drive is iffy - depends on the amount of compression I get.  I'm running the size check now to find out but it will be a while... so in the mean time what ever shall I do?  Hmmmm... maybe just bite the bullet and open up the laptop lid.

(*) Thanks for the link to that youtube video - I had done similar google searches but somehow didn't find just what I was looking for.

32 bit core4.7.7, Xprogs, Xorg-7.6, wbar, jwm  |  - Testing -
PPR, data persistence through filetool.sh          |  32 bit core 8.0 alpha 1
USB Flash drive, one partition, ext2, grub4dos  | Otherwise similar

Offline pq5190362

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2015, 02:23:04 PM »
HDMI: yes, there is an HDMI port but no, I don't have any HDMI monitors.    :(    I've got vga monitors coming out my ears and a DVI or two but no hdmi.

HDMI is compatible with DVI, in most cases only a simple passive adapter (or adapter cable) is needed, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI#Compatibility_with_DVI

Just saying.

Offline Lee

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2015, 06:00:34 PM »
Ok then...  It took a longish time for the dd ..... wc -l command to figure out that I have plenty of disk space to make that compressed image.

But in the mean time I -did- open up the lid of the laptop and disconnect the built-in display and after that it -does- recognize the external VGA display as the primary and I can see the BIOS set up screens.  So now I've enabled legacy booting and set the USB device as the primary boot device.  It's running Core now, so the treat of having a Windows 8 box on premises is relieved.   :)

My fears regarding tearing apart the laptop were semi-justified - the broken LCD is "brokener" now and that bit in the video where they say that popping sound is just the bezel un-snapping, not breaking, was mistaken.  But I think it will go mostly back together and nothing's any less functional than it was before.

Re. HDMI - DVI adapter: my collection of handy adapters is almost as archaic as the rest of my hardware - I don't have one of those on hand either.

Anyway, while I still haven't learned much about "Installing Tiny Core on an  EFI laptop", the work-around has got me where I wanted to be so I think I'll mark this thread as solved.

Many thanks to gerald_clark, curaga and pq5190362.
32 bit core4.7.7, Xprogs, Xorg-7.6, wbar, jwm  |  - Testing -
PPR, data persistence through filetool.sh          |  32 bit core 8.0 alpha 1
USB Flash drive, one partition, ext2, grub4dos  | Otherwise similar

Offline gerald_clark

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Re: Installing Tiny Core on an EFI Laptop
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2015, 06:12:16 PM »
Great news Lee.