leehach wrote:I have a new HP Pavilion g4 with Win8. I want to blow away the Win8 partition and install Linux Mint 13 in its place, *but* I would like to preserve the WinRE partition and the HP Recovery partition, so that I can recreate a factory-new computer. I don't know if this is possible or worth the effort.
I have no direct experience with this setup, but you might look for an application in Windows to create a set of recovery discs. Such tools were common on Windows 7 PCs, and I imagine they'd keep the feature for Windows 8. (I still think they're cheap jerks for not including physical DVDs with the computer, but that's another matter....) Alternatively, if you lack a DVD drive, you could try backing up the partitions to a USB flash drive. I make no promises that the second option would work (or the first, really), but it's worth a try....
1) I read that Linux and Windows must either both be EFI or both be BIOS. But if I'm getting rid of Win8 (just preserving the recovery partitions), do I have to install Linux Mint in EFI mode?
No, but if you want to keep the ability to boot those Windows recovery/restoration tools, you might want to install in EFI mode.
Note also that it's possible to switch Linux's boot mode; you need only install a new boot loader to do the job. Thus, you can install in BIOS mode and then switch to EFI mode if you like.
2) Is there any advantage to using EFI (other than secure boot, which I have already disabled)?
At the moment, such advantages are very minor and/or theoretical. For instance, you can store variables in the firmware in EFI, which can include things like kernel crash data that might be useful to a kernel developer.
As a practical matter, the biggest plus to EFI is that the boot time can be cut down by a few seconds. IMHO, this is pretty minor, but some people get worked up about a 10-second boot-time reduction.
Another difference (advantage or disadvantage, depending on your preferences) is that EFI offers a different mix of boot loaders. GRUB 2 is available for both, and is used by default by Mint on both, but you might conceivably prefer some other EFI boot loader. See my Web page on the topic
for a rundown of what's available.
3) Do I need a specific version or remix of Linux Mint (or Ubuntu) to install using EFI?
Yes. The original 14 release was broken, so you need either 13 (for LTS) or 14.1.
You can usually install to GPT in BIOS mode. Unfortunately, some BIOSes have bugs that prevent them from booting from GPT disks, at least until you take steps to work around those bugs.
Such bugs are rare, so I wouldn't worry too much about them, but be prepared to deal with them if you do run into them.
5) Does installing to the GPT hard drive require a specific version or remix of Linux Mint?
No, except when installing in EFI mode, in which case the EFI caveats come into play. Also, I'm assuming you'd want something recent; old versions might have limitations, but I've not looked into the issue.
Pointers to a solid guide would be invaluable. I have found some of this information out there--hopefully enough to format intelligent questions--but am having trouble assimilating it.
My EFI Boot Loaders for Linux
page (referenced earlier) covers that topic. I've also got some information on booting from GPT disks under BIOS as part of my gdisk documentation.
Neither of these is a "guide" in the sense of something that provides step-by-step instructions, though.