5.2.5 GetVariable() and SetVariable()

Use GetVariable() and SetVariable() services to read and write UEFI variables. UEFI Drivers for add-in adapters, such as PCI adapters, should not use these services to access configuration information for the adapter. Instead, the add-in adapter should provide its own local storage for configuration information. UEFI Drivers provided with UEFI system firmware use UEFI variables to store configuration information. Examples found in the EDK II of UEFI Drivers use UEFI variables to store configuration information include the IPv4 and IPv6 network stacks in the MdeModulePkg/Universal/Network and the NetworkPkg.

Caution: Add-in cards should not store their configuration via variables. When the card is removed from the system, the variables related to its configuration become ownerless. There is no way to safely recover that data. In addition, it is impossible for the system designer to determine the amount of configuration data each card consumes. As such, there may simply not be enough space to store the configuration in a particular system's variable space. To ensure proper function, each card must store its own configuration on the add-in card.

A UEFI Variable is specified with a combination of a GUID and a Unicode string. The GUID prevents name collisions between different vendors. Each vendor may create GUIDs for their own storage and manage their own namespace of Unicode strings for the GUID they create. The Boot Manager chapter of the UEFI Specification defines the EFIGLOBAL_VARIABLE_GUID, also known as gEfiGlobalVariableGuid in the EDK II, that is reserved for UEFI variables defined by the _UEFI Specification. UEFI Drivers must never use this GUID to store their configuration information.

Caution: UEFI Drivers must never use EFIGLOBAL_VARIBLE GUID or gEfiGlobalVariableGuid to store configuration information. This GUID is reserved for use by the UEFI Specification._

When UEFI variables are stored, there are attributes that describe the visibility and persistence of each variable. The legal combinations of attributes include the following:

  • BOOTSERVICE_ACCESS

    • The variable is available for read and write access in the pre-boot environment

      before ExitBootServices() is called. The variable is not available after

      ExitBootServices() is called, and contents are also lost on the next system reset or power cycle. These types of variables are typically used to share information among different pre-boot components.

  • BOOTSERVICE_ACCESS | RUNTIME_ACCESS

    • The variable is available for read and write access in the pre-boot environment before ExitBootServices() is called. and is available for read-only access from the OS runtime environment after ExitBootServices() is called. The contents are lost on the next system reset or power cycle. These types of variable are typically used to share information among different pre-boot components and pass read-only information to the operating system.

  • NON_VOLATILE | BOOTSERVICE_ACCESS

    • The variable is available for read and write access in the pre-boot environment

      before ExitBootServices() is called and the contents are persistent across

      system resets and power cycles. These types of variables are typically used to

      share persistent information among different pre-boot components.

  • NON_VOLATILE | BOOTSERVICE_ACCESS | RUNTIME_ACCESS

    • The variable is available for read and write access in both the pre-boot

      environment and the OS runtime environment and the contents are persistent

      across system resets and power cycles. These types of variables are typically

      used to share persistent information among pre-boot components and the

      operating system.

A UEFI Driver that is required to use UEFI variables to store configuration information typically accesses those UEFI variables in the implementation of the services provided by a EFI_HII_CONFIG_ACCESS_PROTOCOL protocol instance. The services GetVariable() and SetVariable() are used to get and set configuration information associated with HII setup screens provided by the UEFI Driver using the UEFI HII infrastructure that is described in more detail in Chapter 12.

The attribute of NON_VOLATILE | BOOTSEVICE_ACCESS | RUNTIME_ACCESS is used to store configuration information that persists across resets and power cycles. It also allows for updates to this configuration information from operating systems that provide support for OS-present configuration changes using the HII database exported by the UEFI system firmware.

The attribute of BOOTSERVICE_ACCESS should be used with a UEFI variable used as a mailbox to store state information that is required by multiple HII forms or multiple HII callbacks.

The following code fragment shows how to write a configuration structure to a UEFI variable whose contents are preserved across resets and power cycles. The GUID value, GUID global variable, and the configuration structure associated with the GUID are all typically declared in a GUID include file in an EDK II package implemented by a vendor. The structure EXAMPLE_CONFIGURATION from

Example 65-Write configuration structure to a UEFI variable

< Guid / ExampleConfigurationVariable.h > is shown here in comments to provide additional context for this specific code
fragment.
#include <Uefi.h>
#include <Library/UefiRuntimeServicesTableLib.h>
#include <Guid/ExampleConfigurationVariable.h>
//
// Example configuration structure from ExampleConfigurationVariable.h
//
//typedef struct {
// UINT32 Question1;
// UINT16 Question2;
// UINT8 Question3;
//} EXAMPLE_CONFIGURATION;
EFI_STATUS Status;
EXAMPLE_CONFIGURATION ExampleConfiguration;
Status = gRT->SetVariable (
L"ExampleConfiguration", // VariableName
&gEfiExampleConfigurationVariableGuid, // VendorGuid
EFI_VARIABLE_NON_VOLATILE |
EFI_VARIABLE_BOOTSERVICE_ACCESS |
EFI_VARIABLE_RUNTIME_ACCESS,
// Attributes
sizeof (EXAMPLE_CONFIGURATION), // DataSize
&ExampleConfiguration // Data
);
if (EFI_ERROR (Status)) {
return Status;
}

The code fragment below shows how to use the GetVariable() service to read the configuration structure from the UEFI variable written in the previous example.

Example 66-Read configuration structure from a UEFI variable

#include <Uefi.h>
#include <Library/UefiRuntimeServicesTableLib.h>
#include <Guid/ExampleConfigurationVariable.h>
EFI_STATUS Status;
EXAMPLE_CONFIGURATION ExampleConfiguration;
UINTN DataSize;
UINT32 Attributes;
DataSize = sizeof (EXAMPLE_CONFIGURATION);
Attributes = EFI_VARIABLE_NON_VOLATILE |
EFI_VARIABLE_BOOTSERVICE_ACCESS |
EFI_VARIABLE_RUNTIME_ACCESS;
Status = gRT->GetVariable (
L"ExampleConfiguration", // VariableName
&gEfiExampleConfigurationVariableGuid, // VendorGuid
&Attributes, // Attributes
&DataSize, // DataSize
&ExampleConfiguration // Data
);
if (EFI_ERROR (Status)) {
return Status;
}

The code fragment below is identical in functionality to the previous example, but uses the GetVariable() function from the EDK II library UefiLib to read the configuration structure from the UEFI variable. The UEFI variable contents are allocated from pool, so the variable contents must be freed after they are used. The UefiLib function GetVariable() supports reading both fixed size UEFI variables such as an EXAMPLE_CONFIGURATION structure and UEFI variables whose size may vary.

Example 67-Use UefiLib to read configuration structure from a UEFI variable

#include <Uefi.h>
#include <Library/UefiLib.h>
#include <Guid/ExampleConfigurationVariable.h>
EXAMPLE_CONFIGURATION *ExampleConfiguration;
ExampleConfiguration = GetVariable (
L"ExampleConfiguration",
&gEfiExampleConfigurationVariableGuid
);
if (ExampleConfiguration == NULL) {
return EFI_NOT_FOUND;
}
//
// When done, free the UEFI variable contents
//
FreePool (ExampleConfiguration);