Minted Windows 8 with touch of Apple sauce

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Minted Windows 8 with touch of Apple sauce

Postby HappyLinux on Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:23 am

For years now I have practically built my computer. I don't go to stores and buy a big brand computers like Dell or HP. Lately I buy my computers from Meshcomputers. They're typically custom built computers. Cheap and rocksolid build quality compared to most big brands.

As the years go by I will upgrade the computer. Adding more memory, a bigger hard drive. After a few years, I will upgrade the motherboard, CPU and memory. This would mean a clean install of whatever operating system and software I had installed.

At the moment, I'm running a dual-boot of Win7 and Mint13LTS.

I use Windows for gaming and Mint for work.

However, I have been thinking that it's almost time to upgrade my motherboard and CPU. I was also thinking of getting Windows 8 and dual-booting with Mint. From the research I've done, that's not possible.

The only copies of Windows 8 that I can find are upgrade version. Those versions that require a previous version of windows installed. I have never done a windows upgrade. Only done clean installs. The research I found is that Microsoft doesn't provide versions for clean installs, only upgrade and OEM versions. Not that it matters anyway. Microsoft programmed Windows 8 to prevent dual-boot with Linux, yet allow installation alongside MacOSX.

Maybe I should buy a prebuilt Win8 machine for my gaming and a completely seperate computer for Mint????

I would love a Mac as well, but the price would be prohibitive in comparison to the Windows equivilent. But we can't have everything. :cry:

Has anyone else in here tried looking to see if they can do a custom build Windows 8 machine, and to top it off, dual-booted with Linux???
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Re: Minted Windows 8 with touch of Apple sauce

Postby srs5694 on Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:36 am

HappyLinux wrote:However, I have been thinking that it's almost time to upgrade my motherboard and CPU. I was also thinking of getting Windows 8 and dual-booting with Mint. From the research I've done, that's not possible.


Your conclusion is incorrect.

The only copies of Windows 8 that I can find are upgrade version. Those versions that require a previous version of windows installed. I have never done a windows upgrade. Only done clean installs. The research I found is that Microsoft doesn't provide versions for clean installs, only upgrade and OEM versions.


Microsoft changed their licensing lineup with Windows 8, and that's caused a great deal of confusion. See this SuperUser.com question and answer for details. Basically, you buy the "OEM" version and install it yourself; that's perfectly legit, and gets you to more-or-less where the Windows 7 personal-use license would have gotten you, legally speaking. I suppose you could also buy a Windows 7 license and then a Windows 8 upgrade license, but that would probably be more expensive.

Not that it matters anyway. Microsoft programmed Windows 8 to prevent dual-boot with Linux, yet allow installation alongside MacOSX.


This is also incorrect. You're no doubt referring to Secure Boot, which is a feature of the new UEFI firmware. When it's active, Secure Boot prevents the computer from launching any boot loader that's not been cryptographically signed with a key whose public variant is not stored in NVRAM. Because the Microsoft key is the only one that's more-or-less guaranteed to be in every computer's NVRAM, this means that new computers will boot Windows, but might not boot other OSes; however:

  • Windows 8 supports Secure Boot, but doesn't require it.
  • Every x86-64 computer with Secure Boot I've heard of enables you to completely disable Secure Boot. In fact, Microsoft's terms for getting a Windows 8 sticker require the computer to enable users to disable Secure Boot (at least on x86-64 systems; it's different for ARM). In fact, there might still be a few motherboards available that lack Secure Boot support entirely. (They were common a year or so ago, but I'm sure they're less common today.)
  • Secure Boot is a feature of UEFI. If you install and boot Windows 8 in BIOS (aka CSM or legacy) mode, Secure Boot is effectively disabled.
  • Microsoft offers a signing service to third-party developers. Anybody who's willing to pay $99 (to VeriSign, not directly to Microsoft) can have EFI boot loaders signed with Microsoft's key. (Note that you as an end user needn't pay this fee; see the next point....)
  • Two open source boot programs (shim and PreLoader) are available in forms that are signed in this way. These programs will launch follow-on programs that are signed or registered in ways that are extensions of the Secure Boot spec. The upshot is that you can boot Linux with Secure Boot active. Mint ships with an early version of shim -- version 0.1. (Shim 0.4 is current.)
  • It's possible to completely replace the keys in the NVRAM of most (perhaps all) x86-64 computers with Secure Boot. You could then sign all your EFI boot loaders (for both Linux and Windows) yourself, using your keys. This process is a bit of a pain, but it's arguably the most secure way to use Secure Boot.

For more information on this topic, see my Web page on the topic. The upshot of all this, though, is that you have multiple options for dealing with Secure Boot. These range from disabling it completely to reconfiguring it with your own keys. If you approach the task of installing your OSes without doing any research, you might (or might not) run into Secure Boot problems; but with a minimal amount of research, you should be able to avoid any Secure Boot issues.
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Re: Minted Windows 8 with touch of Apple sauce

Postby HappyLinux on Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:30 pm

Brain fry.

Everything that I've found on dual-booting linux with Win8 is contradictory. Some say that it is fully possible, others say yes, although limited, others say no.

Only a few mentioned the UEFI in Win8. Some sites did say that you need to disable it. Others said you don't. Too much confusion, so I took it all as a no, it's not possible to air on the side of caution.

I took a look at that superuser link, read through it and then read elsewhere. Now I'm more confused. Use the OEM version or the System Builder version??? In other forums, people had heard of the System Builder version, but cannot find where to get it. I also just searched. Microsofts website search results for it keep refering me to both the OEM and Upgrade versions.

Also, from the results I found out that with the OEM version, you cannot upgrade all that much hardware. It's hardware locked. You can change you DVD drive, add more memory, but not change the CPU or Motherboard.

Other areas said that you buy the OEM version, then buy the System Builder licence. That's the price of 2 OSes.

I then took a look at your website on on Secure Boot. I didn't get halfway through it before smoke was coming from my ears. There are distinct limits to what I can do with computers.
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Re: Minted Windows 8 with touch of Apple sauce

Postby srs5694 on Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:09 pm

HappyLinux wrote:Everything that I've found on dual-booting linux with Win8 is contradictory. Some say that it is fully possible, others say yes, although limited, others say no.


When encountering such contradictory claims, keep in mind Clarke's First Law:

Arthur C. Clarke wrote:When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.


Of course, a random poster on the Internet is unlikely to be "a distinguished but elderly scientist," but the principle still holds. All too often, somebody tries something, fails, and concludes that it's not possible, when in fact the conclusion should be that the person messed up. OTOH, if somebody tries something and succeeds, that success proves that it is possible. Of course, it could be that the person succeeded in doing something other than what s/he believed was happening, but for something like a dual-boot of Windows and Linux, it's hard to see how this could be the case, and certainly not in a widespread way.

Use the OEM version or the System Builder version??? In other forums, people had heard of the System Builder version, but cannot find where to get it. I also just searched. Microsofts website search results for it keep refering me to both the OEM and Upgrade versions.


They're the same thing. See, for instance, Microsoft's licensing page for Windows 8, in which the terms "OEM," "System Builder," and "OEM System Builder" are used interchangeably.

Also, from the results I found out that with the OEM version, you cannot upgrade all that much hardware. It's hardware locked. You can change you DVD drive, add more memory, but not change the CPU or Motherboard.


It was my understanding that this has been true for a long time. Even with Windows XP, the OS will "phone home" to Microsoft periodically, and may lock the system down if it sees big changes to your hardware. That said, it's entirely possible that Windows 8 takes this another step further. If you don't like it, don't give Microsoft your money -- stick with a pure-Linux computer.

I then took a look at your website on on Secure Boot. I didn't get halfway through it before smoke was coming from my ears. There are distinct limits to what I can do with computers.


I'm sorry you found it so difficult. Try reading it again, but remember that my page presents all the major options, and you'll probably need to use just one. You can skip most of the page once you decide which one to use. The simplest approach is to disable Secure Boot. Then you don't have to deal with shim, PreLoader, MOKs, or whatnot.

Also, keep in mind that dual-booting is inherently a trickier task than single-booting. Put bluntly, if you can't cope with my page on Secure Boot, perhaps you shouldn't be attempting a dual-boot installation at all.
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Re: Minted Windows 8 with touch of Apple sauce

Postby HappyLinux on Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:03 pm

Ah yes, the distinguished Clarke's Laws. I'm using the 3rd law in my books, but that's another topic altogether.

I've figured that someone would have succeeded in dual-booting Win8 with Linux eventually, it's just finding the information. Unlike previous Windows, Windows 8 boots differently hence the UEFI. So there's bound to be a degree of fiddling somewhere. For me though, too much fiddling is out of the question.

OEM, System Builder, OEM System Builder licence and now Personal Use licence. So which one??? Which one for me???

I know with Win7 if you change the motherboard, or simply reinstall Win7, you can activate it 10 times before you have to call a phone number where you key in your licence and it gives you a new one. Sadly I can't stick with a pure linux system. I use Windows for a lot of things, and some of my hardware doesn't work under Linux. For example, my printer doesn't work under Linux.

It's a lot more complicated. There are programs under Linux which I use daily, but cannot use under windows and vice versa. So I'm forced to dual-boot. Maybe I should build a minipc for Linux, seeing as what I do under Linux isn't hardware intensive, but that would leave Win8 and it's licencing conundrums.
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Re: Minted Windows 8 with touch of Apple sauce

Postby srs5694 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:14 pm

HappyLinux wrote:I've figured that someone would have succeeded in dual-booting Win8 with Linux eventually, it's just finding the information.


There have been dozens, if not hundreds, of posts about Win8/Linux dual-boot configuration on this forum alone. Of course, most of those posts are from people who've had problems, so searching for them will probably leave you with an overly-pessimistic view of the problems involved -- people who don't have problems are much less likely to post to ask for help than are those who do have problems! ;) Still, most people who try it do seem to get it working, sooner or later, in one way or another.

Unlike previous Windows, Windows 8 boots differently hence the UEFI.


This is backwards, at least from a technical perspective; it's the EFI that dictates the change in boot processes, not the other way around. Keep in mind that Windows 8 does support BIOS-mode booting, so you can install Windows 8 in BIOS mode if you want to do so.

From a business perspective, Microsoft has accelerated EFI adoption by requiring its use in new computers that bear a Windows 8 logo. Note that this does not mean that Windows 8 requires EFI in any technical sense; it just means that's Microsoft's contracts with PC builders require them to use EFI on computers that are sold as Windows 8 machines.

OEM, System Builder, OEM System Builder licence and now Personal Use licence. So which one??? Which one for me???


This is a Windows question. You may want to ask it on a Windows forum. Alternatively, Googling on '"Windows 8" licensing' produces 3,770,000 hits. Some of the more promising sounding ones from the first page of results include:


(Many of the hits were news reports about the number of copies of Windows 8 sold in its first few weeks or months.)

Maybe I should build a minipc for Linux, seeing as what I do under Linux isn't hardware intensive, but that would leave Win8 and it's licencing conundrums.


You could also run Linux under a virtual machine in Windows (or vice-versa, although if you're using Windows for gaming, that might not be optimal).
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Re: Minted Windows 8 with touch of Apple sauce

Postby HappyLinux on Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:16 am

Well I pretty much am an idiot in quite a few areas. This being one of them.

I'm pretty much useless at finding things, even if it's right in front of me. I end up burying what I'm looking for in my attempts to find it.

I'm guessing that my laptop which is running Win8 boots in less than a minute because of the EFI??? Or am I wrong??

I was actually talking to myself in the open with that Microsoft question. You didn't need to answer it.

Right now, I'm searching the internet for information on how to get a copy of System Builder, but still, it's proving difficult.
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Re: Minted Windows 8 with touch of Apple sauce

Postby srs5694 on Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:13 pm

HappyLinux wrote:I'm guessing that my laptop which is running Win8 boots in less than a minute because of the EFI??? Or am I wrong??


In part. Microsoft has done a number of things to improve the Windows 8 boot speed. Encouraging adoption of EFI is one of them -- that probably shaves about 2-10 seconds off the boot time. One other thing deserves mention: a feature called "fast startup." In terms of dual-booting, this feature would be just as accurately called "damage filesystems." It turns a shutdown operation into a suspend-to-disk operation, leaving filesystems in an unstable state. This does indeed improve the startup time, but at the cost of filesystem damage when dual-booting. Thus, when setting up Windows 8 in a dual-boot setup, it's usually best to disable this feature, as described here.

Right now, I'm searching the internet for information on how to get a copy of System Builder, but still, it's proving difficult.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6832416550
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