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How to configure systemd boot with UEFI

Today we will cover configuring a Linux system to boot using systemd boot on a UEFI system.

Firstly you'll need to check you're booted into EFI mode. You can do this with dmesg | grep "EFI v".

Sometimes it's possible to boot your system from legacy BIOS mode instead of UEFI mode - look for the UEFI options in your boot override menu. Note, the media you are booting from most support UEFI for this to show up.

I used Arch for this guide but, being Linux, you should be able to easily adapt them for the distro of your choice.


Next we'll create the minimal viable partitions required for this to work. You should adjust the partitioning steps as required for your steup.

gdisk /dev/sda

The use of gdisk means we'll be using gpt formatting not mbr - use gpt unless you have a very good reason for doing otherwise.

BEWARE: We're about to wipe everything off this drive

We're going to create the partition which will hold /boot now.

  • o create a new EMPTY gpt and erase everything off the drive
  • n create a new partition
  • default partition number (1)
  • First sector: leave blank
  • +512M Last sector
  • ef00 partition type code – EFI system
  • n create a new partition (this is going to be your root filesystem) - accept defaults
  • w this will write the changes listed above and ERASE YOUR DRIVE

Use the same method to partition rest of your drive as required. You can leave last sector blank and it will use the remaining free space for that partition. \boot should be no larger than 512mb.

Create the filesystem(s)

Time to put a filesystem on those partitions. Double check your numbers before running any of these commands, just in case.

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda2 #the larger one used for /
mkfs.vfat -F32 /dev/sda1 #used for /boot

Mount the partitions

This must be done in a specific order. First, mount the partition which will form /, /dev/sda2 in our case. Don't forget I'm on Arch, this may differ for other distros.

mount /dev/sda2 /mnt
mkdir -p /mnt/boot
mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot

pacstrap /mnt base base-devel

Install the bootloader

Once you've entered your chroot it’s then time to install the bootloader using:

bootctl --path=/boot$esp install

Check in /boot and you’ll want to end up with a file layout thus (I used tree to generate this):

$ tree /boot
├── EFI
│   ├── Boot
│   │   └── BOOTX64.EFI
│   └── systemd
│       └── systemd-bootx64.efi
├── initramfs-linux-fallback.img
├── initramfs-linux.img
├── loader
│   ├── entries
│   │   └── arch.conf
│   └── loader.conf
└── vmlinuz-linux

The important files are /boot/loader/loader.conf and /boot/loader/entries/arch.conf.


default arch
timeout 1
editor 0

Generate your PARTUUID by running blkid -s PARTUUID -o value /dev/sda2.


title   Arch Linux
linux   /vmlinuz-linux
initrd  /initramfs-linux.img
options root=PARTUUID=66e3f67d-f59a-4086-acdd-a6e248a3ee80 rw

Optionally, your options line could be options root=/dev/nvme0n1p3 rw intel_iommu=on.


Now you can continue with your installation as required and reboot. That's it.