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The last time I bought a PC several years ago I had no problems installing Linux on it. I just inserted my Debian iso in the CD-ROM drive and it put Debian on the computer no problem.

However, I have heard that some PC and motherboard manufacturers have been using UEFI firmware that can cause problems for Linux and make it difficult to install, or even brick the system. I have read that there is an open source firmware called Coreboot which can be used to replace UEFI and avoid such problems, but Coreboot only works on AMD machines, so it is not useful in my case, since I plan to get an x86 machine.

What potential problems do I face here with regards to UEFI and how can I avoid them when buying a new machine and installing Debian?

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See my answer here. In short, if there is no os already on pc, just disable the legacy mode and go for it, else, check if the current os is installed in uefi mode or legacy mode. In former case, you got a green light, in latter case, sorry, you'll have to install debian in legacy mode as well (you can wipe the drive and install debian in uefi mode if you want). Note that the installation manual points out that things can go haywire based on the phase of the moon. :-i. Also it's recommended to go with a uefi installation, it offers many advantages and new features. The problem I mentioned above is very rare I guess, judging from the lack of google results about the specific problem. See the manual for details.

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