demm It was a clean install on empty /boot and / partitions. I have other /boot and / partitions on the ssd with other systems booting from systemd-boot in those separate boot partitions, but these new partitions where I installed KaOS were empty. I have no GRUB installed anywhere on any partition. Also, before installing I set the /boot directory for the install with the esp boot flag, and removed the esp boot flag from all other boot directories. I installed KaOS a second time, but left the first install in place. I created a different /boot and / directory for the second install. Same thing, but the second install had a different empty "machine-id" directory in /boot. By the way, the names of these empty directories don´t actually match the number in /etc/machine-id, it just looks similar because it is a 32-digit hex with no dashes. Anyway, I´ll try deleting them just to see if it affects anything. I´m wondering if it is Intel´s Visual BIOS firmware interacting with systemd-boot and placing the directory there. But that would seem really strange. No biggie. I´ll report any effects after deleting the empty directories. Cheers!