Enterprise: a UEFI boot loader for Linux

‘Enterprise’ is the name of a UEFI boot loader that is meant to boot 1 or more Linux ISOs off a USB thumbdrive. The last release was back in 2015, but there is recent Github code activity. SevenBits created ‘Enterprise’, in addition to ‘Mac Linux USB Loader’, which sets up a bootable USB with Enterprise.

Enterprise (named after the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek) is an EFI program that is designed to assist in booting Linux distributions from USB sticks on UEFI-based PCs and Macs, something that is continously regarded as being near to impossible due to quirks in vendors’ EFI implementations and really quite poor support from Linux distributions.  Using Enterprise, you can create bootable USB drives that boot on a UEFI-based computer without needing rEFIt or rEFInd to be installed.  Originally designed to compliment ‘Mac Linux USB Loader’, Enterprise can also be used on its own to boot Linux on a variety of UEFI-based PCs and Macs.  The purpose of Enterprise is as the first stage in a two-stage booting process for ‘Mac Linux USB Loader’-created USB drives. Enterprise is a custom UEFI boot manager designed to load Linux distributions, even those without UEFI booting support, directly from ISO files on UEFI-based computers.  Enterprise provides an easy-to-use and simplistic interface that automates many of the tasks necessary to boot distributions of Linux from an ISO file.  Enterprise supports booting multiple distributions, so you can have more than one distribution per USB stick and multiple configurations for each distribution. Enterprise requires a configuration file telling it about which distributions it should load. This configuration file is created automatically when you use tools like Mac Linux USB Loader, though it is possible to write your own file and configure Enterprise as one would configure other boot managers such as GRUB, gummiboot, and syslinux, albeit much more simply.  Enterprise is under the LGPL; it pulls in code from other software projects (namely, gummiboot). It is written in portable C, and can be compiled to run on both 32-bit and 64-bit EFI firmware types.



[UPDATE: See Comment post (left) from Solus developer Ikey for more info.]

Softpedia notes that there is a Linux distribution called Solus, and it’s latest release supports UEFI, with Solus working on a gummiboot fork (of sorts), called goofibootm:

“As a heads up, we’ve forked gummiboot, the UEFI boot loader for Linux. It should be noted that gummiboot itself is dead upstream, and was ‘merged’ into the systemd tree as systemd-boot. Currently Solus uses gummiboot for UEFI everywhere, and as we need certain behaviours that systemd-boot will not be providing, and we’ve been told categorically it’s not a successor, we’re providing our own successor,” Ikey Doherty said on Google+.


From the Solus Beta2 release notes:

“Solus will co-exist with other operating systems using UEFI, and will not add the boot loader to the firmware.”

I had not heard of Solus before reading this news. Apparently, Solus is designed and optimized for the desktop, and they may prefer speed over security, from the Solus web site:

We spend a lot of time optimising Solus to run better, faster, and more efficiently, on the hardware available to our users. Quite famously, we had an Intel NUC booting in 1.089s, using only 178MB of RAM idle on boot. We spend time working heavily on the toolchain, validating binary performance to ensure that you get the best possible experience for the desktop. We spend a significant amount of time on our kernel too […] we’re also going to do hardware-specific builds of Solus in the future. This means we’ll be offering builds of Solus, as an example, that would run exclusively on the Broadwell architecture, or Haswell, etc. These will be immensely optimised, building on all the work we already do, ensuring you’ll be using hardware specific builds of Solus, squeezing every last bit of juice out of that computer of yours (or: getting what you paid for). The upcoming v1 stable release on October 1st will feature a “fast-boot” option in the installer, which will involve the removal of the initrd. This will take the previous record of 1.089s cold boot time, and completely demolish it with a subsecond boot time, which we will make prominently public.


It will be interesting to see if goofibootm will become useful to other distros besides Solus. I haven’t checked to see if they have the tummiboot fork or not (which has Intel TXT support). Sigh, too many boot loaders for Linux with different separate security features…

EFI updates in latest Yocto release

Elizabeth Flanagan of Intel’s Yocto Project has announced the release of Yocto 1.7.3. Yocto is the Intel-backed embedded Linux system based on OpenEmbedded. Intel’s LUV (Linux UEFI Validation) distro, as in LUV-live, is Yocto-based. There are 3 UEFI-related updates that I can see:

 * grub-efi: Add backslash lost from previous commit
 * grub-efi: Use the backport patch from grub
 * init-install-efi.sh: fix gummiboot entry installation


Hmm, isn’t Gummiboot dead, replaced by the SystemD boot loader? If so, why is it still actively-maintained in Yocto?

And what about tummiboot, an Intel TXT-based fork of Gummiboot, shouldn’t Intel make that active? I haven’t checked, I hope tboot is available under Yocto, for BIOS today, and UEFI someday soon.
(I’d swear I did a blog post on tummiboot, but WordPress’s search abilities suck, and I suck at tagging, can’t find the post at the moment.)