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Short introduction to EFI shell.

When installing Windows onto a WinDRBD disk one has to boot via UEFI. Most modern system support this so it should not be a strict restriction. When installing onto a system that is booted via the legacy PC BIOS the Windows setup utility will refuse to install on top of a WinDRBD device because it thinks the BIOS cannot boot from the target disk (which is not true - it can boot via iPXE).

However, booting from UEFI needs a special iPXE image compiled for UEFI and with WinDRBD support. This image comes precompiled with modern WinDRBD distributions (TODO: starting from 1.1.5).

This guide explains what to type into the EFI shell to load an iPXE image and boot from it. It is also meant as a generic introduction for those who (like me) never worked with an EFI shell. EFI shell is a bit like cmd shell under Windows but there are significant differences.

To list commands supported by your EFI shell type:

help -b

The -b parameter makes the output stop at every page (just like piping into less) so you can view all pages.

Then to access local file systems you need to select a file system and then change into a directory containing the file. First, list file systems with the map command:

map

It should show something like

FS0: Alias()...
PciRoot(0x0)/Pci ...

The FS0 is the interesting part. It is like a Windows drive letter but with more than one letter. So, to select a file system enter:

FS0:

(or FS1:, …). Then optionally you can cd into the directory on the filesystem. Example:

cd \EFI\BOOT

To list the files do:

dir -b

(again -b is to make the output stop at every page).

Then to boot from a .efi file just type the name of the file, as in:

ipxe.efi

That’s it.

Note that (at least my) EFI shell supports basic command history and tab completion.