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I am currently considering moving to UEFI/GPT on my system. I plan to install Windows first and use the ESP created by Windows. My first major question is this: Will Windows automatically use the GPT scheme when installing when it detects that that the system is booted in UEFI? Or will it force using MBR? I read here that Windows supports booting from disks larger than 2TB, one of the features of GPT, but not that it supports GPT necessarily. My second question is this: The Arch Wiki tells me to mount the ESP at /boot, but where is this supposed directory? Is it the /boot dir of the Arch install? If so, should I after installing chroot into the system and mount the ESP at /boot manually, or should I allow the refind-install script to automatically detect and mount my ESP when I install rEFInd?. Thanks for your help.

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A reasonably modern version of Windows will support GPT and will definitely not force using MBR when the PC is booted in UEFI mode.

The Arch Wiki recommends mounting the ESP on /boot is because /boot is where the pacman tool installs new kernels when they are updated. The ESP is where we want the kernel (and the initrd) to be, otherwise the firmware can't find it, since the ESP is the only file partition the firmware can read.

If you install Windows first, then the ESP will exist when you install Arch. You should set up Arch so that the ESP is mounted on /boot by editing /etc/fstab. I doubt the rEFInd installation helps you with that.

A simpler alternative to rEFInd is systemd-boot, which is included with systemd. Systemd-boot and rEFInd are both boot managers, i.e. operating system choosers. Systemd-boot is easier to configure of the two, but it does not come with the fancy graphics that rEFInd does.

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  • Yeah, I realised how idiotic my question about GPT was after thinking about it. It's just that I always have this idea in my head of Windows using outdated technologies.
    – Aboleth
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 20:26
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This is an old question. The question has many other questions in it.

Why we need GPT, to have more partitions and separate boot (UEFI) on the disk as well as more support for big disk sizes. MBR table format is not, can be corrupted easier than GPT.

Most recent systems are supporting UEFI. If you don't want to use it or you couldn't install an OS with UEFI, you can change this option in the BIOS setup (F1 or F2 during PC boot) to boot legacy that will try to detect your boot partition. This happens mostly with recent PC's that shipped with Microsoft Windows.

ESP is "EFI System Partition. For Archlinux, after mounting your root (main) partition into /mnt you need to

mount /dev/sdaX /mnt/boot

and that sdaX is your EFI. However, you need to follow the instructions carefully for the EFI grub install.

For boot directory, you can

mkdir /mnt/boot

and then mount EFI partition or after arch-chroot your mount point but before installing the grub AND make sure to boot Arch in UEFI mode before installing it.

rEFInd is a boot manager, installing it is not really necessary if you are able to set your system up as it should be. The Linux kernel has a builtin boot-loader, but for some reasons if you have many disks and different boots (UEFI/GPT or UEFI/MBR), then that is a rEFInd's challenge. Make sure to follow the instruction in the ArchLinux Wiki.

Make sure also to backup your data and read the whole story before starting Archlinux installation.

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