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32-bit UEFI boot in 64-bit Distro

Feature state

openSUSE Distribution


Allow for 64-bit versions of openSUSE to boot on to 32-bit UEFI hardware and allow for installation.

Thus, hardware that supports only 32-bit UEFI and not legacy boot in BIOS yet has 64-bit processors (typically Intel Atom) would let openSUSE 64-bit install.

User benefit:

There is a surge of low-end tablets starting to appear on the market. See the HP Stream 7 and 8 series, which start at $99 and $149 respectively.
These tablets are equipped with quad-core Intel Atom Z3735G 1.83GHz 64-bit processors but are saddled with a 32-bit UEFI BIOS that does not support Legacy BIOS boot.
As such, it is currently impossible to install openSUSE on this hardware since 32-bit legacy versions of openSUSE only support Legacy BIOS booting and 64-bit versions only support 64-bit UEFI booting.
Since Linux kernel 3.14, the ability to boot from 32-bit UEFI into a 64-bit kernel has been supported.

By supporting a 32-bit UEFI boot and a 64-bit kernel, openSUSE could open the door to installation on a new market of low-cost tablets and thus introduce openSUSE as an alternative to Microsoft Windows 8.1 32-bit which currently is the only option as an operating system.


Some Ubuntu users have created a work-around to get their 64-bit kernel version installed on Dell Venue/Toshiba Encore Mini-series tablets using a custom 32-bit UEFI boot.
This is not officially supported by Ubuntu but there has been some interest in getting Linux onto the sub-$200 tablet market.

However, because it is basically a hack to do so and only on specific hardware, only the bravest Ubuntu users have accomplished this task.


icons/user_comment.png M. P. wrote: (3 years ago)

Well it is possible to build i586 iso image using kiwi that boots in uefi on such platform (in my case I tried Prestigio MultiPad Visconte Quad):
# linux32 kiwi --target-arch i586 --build suse-13.2-JeOS --type iso -d /root/kiwi
resulting image boots fine from usb flash attached to tablet.

It is also possible to boot current factory installer/live iso, all you need is to copy grubia32.efi to image (efi boot partition on it_ and then boot x86_64 kernel.

There are at least two things that should be done:
1) Build i586 opensuse/factory images with grub2-efi (I am not sure it is missing currently).
2) Add 32 bit grub2 to x86_64 image.

icons/user_comment.png g. r. wrote: (3 years ago)

"# linux32 kiwi --target-arch i586 --build suse-13.2-JeOS --type iso -d /root/kiwi
resulting image boots fine from usb flash attached to tablet."
So the resulting image should work with x64 hardware and 32 bit UEFI? For example on an Asus Transformer T100?
The strange thing is that GParted Live works flawlessy, you burn it on an USB drive and it will boot graphically with any problem.


icons/user_comment.png T. K. wrote: (2 years ago)

You don't need to create i586 images/builds. It is really enough to include bootia32.efi on the x86-64 media and grub2-i386-efi.

icons/user_comment.png M. K. wrote: (2 years ago)

While grub2 bootloader can load current openSUSE kernel as it is, to be able to access efivars (and EFI services) in a 64-bit system booted from 32-bit UEFI, CONFIG_EFI_MIXED option needs to be be enabled. Without it, we can't even run grub2-install and the bootloader must be set up manually (and EFI loader put in exactly the path where UEFI expects it - e.g. EFI/Microsoft/Boot/bootmgfw.efi in my case).

I'm going to suggest enabling this option in the opensuse-kernel mailing list.

icons/user_comment.png M. C. wrote: (2 years ago)

Here is a quick list from me as todo list.
1. grub2 need to package grub2-i386-efi on x86_64 builds, currently it's missing. (grub2)
2. grub2 need to package a default (versatile) grub.efi to be used in installation media creation (grub2/kiwi)
3. No secure boot support, no shim, so use that grub.efi as bootia32.efi in media (grub2)
4. Use linux command on all grub.cfg in 32 bit as linuxefi won't be there for kernel's uefi boot stub, in which I don't know about it has any mixed arch support? (kernel)
6. The xen loader or xen uefi boot stub can handle this mixed mode? (xen)
7. YaST2 bootloader need to provide a 32 bit options on this detected x86_64 cpu then we could handle the update (YaST)


icons/user_comment.png M. C. wrote: (2 years ago)

Good. The kernel question seems to be answer by Michal. But sadly, still the linuxefi lacks 32 bit support and have to be patched.

icons/user_comment.png D. H. wrote: (22 months ago)

I would support this. There are an increasing number of cheap notebooks which use 32bit UEFI and support 64bot kernels. My old notebook has just died and I'm going to switch to Linux Mint as OS doesn't support the new notebook hardware.

I use cheap notebooks as they get lost / dropped / die often.

icons/user_comment.png B. G. wrote: (19 months ago)

If Debian can do this:


Then why not openSUSE?!

I really hope 32bit EFI support will be added soon.

icons/user_comment.png B. G. wrote: (18 months ago)

I've set the feature from Unconfirmed to New. I see several solutions in this post, references to working examples and a proper description.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that validates the New state where an expert can evaluate this request.

Last change: 5 months ago
Score: 19
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  • Neutral: 0
  • Positive: 19
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