New Windows 8 laptops

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New Windows 8 laptops

Postby travo5100 on Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:05 pm

Hello everyone,
i am new to the forum (long time lurker) but have been using mint for over a year now. i am buying a new laptop but all the ones that I want and can afford all proudly proclaim "Windows 8 installed". What I want to do is get a decent newer model computer and ceremoniously wipe Windows 8 off and install mint in it's place. the question I have is anyone running into issues with this "Secure Boot" feature? I've seen one UEFI bios at Fry's where it can be disabled. What I really don't want is to receive this $800 piece of equipment and all it able to do is run Windows 8. Any help would be appreciated.

Trav
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby srs5694 on Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:00 pm

Any x86/x86-64 computer with a Windows 8 logo is required by Microsoft to have a Secure Boot implementation that can be disabled. Thus, if you're comfortable going into your firmware settings and locating the option, you should have no problems because of this. That said, the transition to EFI is causing problems generally, so you could run into EFI issues even with Secure Boot disabled. Unfortunately, that's just the state of things right now. I'm sure it'll get cleared up in time.

It's also worth noting that Linux developers are working on ways to boot Linux with Secure Boot enabled. In fact, Ubuntu 12.10 already ships with an early version of this support. Fedora 18 should ship with a more complete implementation. I'm not sure about Mint 14, although I've heard that the first installation discs were mis-configured without any EFI support at all. (A fresh build should be released soon, but I don't have a precise timetable for that.) See Matthew Garrett's blog for numerous entries about EFI and Secure Boot issues. I've written a Web page that covers the basics in more detail than this post.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby travo5100 on Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:26 pm

Thank you for setting my mind at ease. I have an ASUS desktop MB with UEFI (pre Windows 8 and secure boot) that has no problems running mint or anything else. The biggest thing i was worried about was the secure boot issue. If I can get around that, I'm sure I can get around other smaller issues. If I do run into any problems that I can't sort out on my own, I'm sure the good citizens of the internet would gladly help. Thanks for the links.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby viking777 on Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:04 am

Moved here by moderator.

And travo5100 - firstly Mint does not support secure boot or even Uefi at the present moment in time so you wouldn't be able to boot it on that hardware anyway unless the bios you choose enables you to switch off both functions. This matter is in hand however and a respin of Nadia is due out shortly, so by the time you get around to it you may well be Ok.

Secondly don't be fooled into thinking that switching off secure boot will solve all your problems, it might or it might not. Uefi on its own presents more than enough headaches with some machines. I suggest you have a skim through this thread detailing what happened to me and others with Uefi (not secure boot) machines very recently:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php? ... &t=2086602

This Uefi is NOT solved and represents a grave threat to Linux as a whole.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby srs5694 on Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:02 pm

viking777 wrote:And travo5100 - firstly Mint does not support secure boot or even Uefi at the present moment in time so you wouldn't be able to boot it on that hardware anyway unless the bios you choose enables you to switch off both functions. This matter is in hand however and a respin of Nadia is due out shortly, so by the time you get around to it you may well be Ok.


The respin you mention was released yesterday. I've not tried it yet, but it should work on EFI/UEFI systems. This version does not support Secure Boot, though. If you're technically inclined, you could try the newly-released Shim boot loader in conjunction with Mint's normal EFI support. As a practical matter, that would require either a new respin or installing with Secure Boot disabled followed by adding Shim, signing your version of GRUB, and re-enabling Secure Boot. No doubt this will become easier in the future, but presumably not until at least Mint 15.

Secondly don't be fooled into thinking that switching off secure boot will solve all your problems, it might or it might not. Uefi on its own presents more than enough headaches with some machines. I suggest you have a skim through this thread detailing what happened to me and others with Uefi (not secure boot) machines very recently:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php? ... &t=2086602

This Uefi is NOT solved and represents a grave threat to Linux as a whole.


UEFI support is still very rough, but I wouldn't call it "a grave threat to Linux as a whole." The problems are threefold:

  • Secure Boot requires workarounds that are only now becoming available. (The signed version of Shim became available yesterday!) This isn't an issue for most existing UEFI-based computers, but the vast majority of systems that ship with Windows 8 also ship with Secure Boot enabled, so it's becoming more of an issue with every passing day. OTOH, the workarounds are also being released and are likely to be incorporated in most major distributions in the next release or two. (Ubuntu 12.10 already uses an earlier version of Shim and Fedora 18 should ship with the full version, for instance. I don't know what the Mint developers plan.)
  • EFI presents new bugs and new system-to-system differences. Thus, there are challenges to the developers of boot managers, boot loaders, and system installation programs. Unfortunately, Linux developers have been slow to respond to these challenges, perhaps in part because they haven't gotten access to the range of hardware required. (I maintain rEFInd, for instance, but I do so on my own time and on my own hardware; I haven't gotten donations from hardware manufacturers for development and testing.)
  • Documentation and user expertise is lacking. You can easily find Web sites that provide lots of information on how to manage a BIOS-based computer's boot process, often with distribution-specific details. Relatively few such sites exist for EFI-based installations, though. Similarly, users who are familiar with EFI are rare, so threads on Web forums often suffer for lack of expertise. FWIW, I've got a Web page on EFI boot loaders, and I try to monitor threads here and on a few other forums to help alleviate this problem.

All of these problems are dropping in severity with time; Secure Boot code for Linux is starting to emerge from the pipeline, EFI bugs and quirks are being worked around by developers, and as users read existing documentation and forum threads, expertise is growing. I expect that in another year or two, EFI will work as well as BIOS does for Linux.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby travo5100 on Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:30 pm

Sorry for not replying, but it does work with the UEFI on this laptop. Just turned off secure boot in the "bios" and ceremoniosly overwrote Win 8 with Mint 14. Thanks for the info and help.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby Veluriel on Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:49 am

Hi, I'm a newbie that installed Katya back when it came out, joined the forums for help installing, and then disappeared with my wonderfully working OS since I only really used it for minimal things and had no problems whatsoever.

So, basically, I'm still a newbie. And now that I've bought a brand new laptop (Lenovo Y580) with Windows 8 installed, I'm keenly interested in installing the latest Mint (14.1/Nadia) on a partition. I don't want to totally part with Windows just yet. (Although being forced to buy a machine with 8 irritated me, and I'll be forced to mod it to my own preference.)

Browsing the internet has been telling me that the only distro I can do this with currently is Ubuntu 12.10, which is unappealing to me. (Unity - ew. Also, Mint is the only distro I've used.)

So my questions:
1. Do we have confirmation that Nadia will successfully install and boot on a partitioned drive that already has Windows 8 on it?
2. Will this installation in any way threaten the usage/integrity of Windows 8? (i.e. Is it possible that I, in my newbishness, could ruin it beyond repair?)
3. Will I have to enable/disable Secure Boot every time I want to switch between starting up Mint vs. Windows?
4. As a relatively (okay, largely) inexperienced user, am I better off waiting for another version of Mint that supports the entire EFI/UEFI/Secure Boot "stuff?" (Sorry, I've been reading but I'm still a tad overwhelmed.)

Thanks for any help you guys can give. I very much enjoy Mint's feel and experience, and the combination of out-of-the-box usability and the support of the community is what has me coming back.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby srs5694 on Mon Dec 24, 2012 1:44 pm

Veluriel wrote:So, basically, I'm still a newbie. And now that I've bought a brand new laptop (Lenovo Y580) with Windows 8 installed, I'm keenly interested in installing the latest Mint (14.1/Nadia) on a partition. I don't want to totally part with Windows just yet. (Although being forced to buy a machine with 8 irritated me, and I'll be forced to mod it to my own preference.)

Browsing the internet has been telling me that the only distro I can do this with currently is Ubuntu 12.10, which is unappealing to me. (Unity - ew. Also, Mint is the only distro I've used.)


This isn't entirely correct. Ubuntu 12.10 is, to the best of my knowledge, the only currently-shipping distribution that supports Secure Boot "out of the box." If you disable Secure Boot, though, you should be able to install almost anything. Unfortunately, some distributions have more glitches with EFI than others do, and Mint 14.1 seems to have a few glitches. It can be done, though.

Also, one ancillary point: Choosing a distribution (such as Ubuntu) does not lock you into that distribution's default desktop environment (such as Unity). The default is often the one that's most polished and best integrated into the OS as a whole, but you can install another desktop environment and use it. For instance, I've got Ubuntu 12.10 installed under VirtualBox on one of my systems, and I use LXDE with it because Unity is so sluggish because of video driver issues. LXDE works fine on this installation.

So my questions:
1. Do we have confirmation that Nadia will successfully install and boot on a partitioned drive that already has Windows 8 on it?


I've not done it, but I've seen reports from others that it can be done. Some reports, though, suggest you may run into problems related to EFI. Some of these relate to Secure Boot, which you must either disable or deal with in some other way. Other issues are more basic, though, and may require installing in BIOS mode and then manually installing an EFI boot loader.

2. Will this installation in any way threaten the usage/integrity of Windows 8? (i.e. Is it possible that I, in my newbishness, could ruin it beyond repair?)


Of course it's possible you'll trash Windows. That's always a possibility when installing a new OS to a computer that already holds one, no matter what the firmware or OS. That said, it's no more likely in your situation than in others (such as a BIOS-mode install to a computer that holds Windows 7).

As a precaution, look for a utility that creates a set of Windows recovery DVDs. Such utilities were common in the Windows 7 days, when manufacturers got so incredibly cheap that they stopped providing physical recovery DVDs with their computers and instead took several gigs of disk space to provide not-really-equivalent functionality. Having the physical DVDs will enable you to recover even if you accidentally delete all your Windows partitions.

3. Will I have to enable/disable Secure Boot every time I want to switch between starting up Mint vs. Windows?


No. Windows will continue to boot fine when you disable Secure Boot. Alternatively, you can install shim and sign your Linux boot loader(s) or reconfigure Secure Boot in a more radical way so that you take control of it completely and boot both OSes in secure mode.

4. As a relatively (okay, largely) inexperienced user, am I better off waiting for another version of Mint that supports the entire EFI/UEFI/Secure Boot "stuff?" (Sorry, I've been reading but I'm still a tad overwhelmed.)


It's likely to get easier for Linux generally in the next 6-12 months. I don't know what Mint's plans are specifically about Secure Boot, though. Whether it's worth waiting for this or if it's better to dig in now is a subjective matter, so I can't answer for you.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby Veluriel on Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:30 pm

srs5694 wrote:This isn't entirely correct. Ubuntu 12.10 is, to the best of my knowledge, the only currently-shipping distribution that supports Secure Boot "out of the box." If you disable Secure Boot, though, you should be able to install almost anything.


Like I said, my knowledge was simply based on what I had read from a cursory sweep of the internet. I think it was mostly my confusion on the difference between Secure Boot and EFI/UEFI.

Also, one ancillary point: Choosing a distribution (such as Ubuntu) does not lock you into that distribution's default desktop environment (such as Unity). The default is often the one that's most polished and best integrated into the OS as a whole, but you can install another desktop environment and use it.


I chose Mint because of its out-of-the-box functionality. I wanted a distro that would work as is with minimal fuss. I appreciate the ability to customize, but it's not really something I care deeply about. I'm more interested in just being able to use it right away and have it work.

I've not done it, but I've seen reports from others that it can be done. Some reports, though, suggest you may run into problems related to EFI. Some of these relate to Secure Boot, which you must either disable or deal with in some other way. Other issues are more basic, though, and may require installing in BIOS mode and then manually installing an EFI boot loader.


Whilst I could probably figure out how to do this, I have to admit that my working knowledge is extremely limited. Perhaps if I have significant downtime I'll look into it, but I don't want to have to worry about workarounds for Secure Boot. Disabling it seems reasonable, though seeing as I will likely run into other glitches while running it, I don't really think I'm up to snuff. (Nor do I have the time right now to learn, unfortunately.)

That said, it's no more likely in your situation than in others (such as a BIOS-mode install to a computer that holds Windows 7).
...
As a precaution, look for a utility that creates a set of Windows recovery DVDs.


Yes, I'm already planning on making recovery media, it's at the top of my list. I was really just wondering if this messing with Secure Boot/EFI/UEFI stuff might be more "hazardous" than normal partitioning/OS installation. I do understand that there's always some risk.

Alternatively, you can install shim and sign your Linux boot loader(s) or reconfigure Secure Boot in a more radical way so that you take control of it completely and boot both OSes in secure mode.


Thank you for the advice, but this seems beyond my current capabilities. As a side question, is there any possibility that "shim" or this particular series of actions above could do irreparable damage? (Again, I understand there's always risk. I'm trying to minimize it by asking what is easy to screw up and cause unfixable problems.)

It's likely to get easier for Linux generally in the next 6-12 months. I don't know what Mint's plans are specifically about Secure Boot, though. Whether it's worth waiting for this or if it's better to dig in now is a subjective matter, so I can't answer for you.


Well yes, you can't answer it for me exactly, but I was just asking for advice, mostly from anyone/everyone that has more experience than I do. It's likely I will wait given the current state of things, but I just wanted to know what the "experts" thought about it. :D

And I've yet another question; When people say "glitches with EFI/UEFI," what do they mean? Do they mean that the system cannot boot at all? That certain functions within the OS don't work? I'm a little confused about what the glitches are. I'd assume that it means that the system won't boot, since it's a boot issue, but I just wanted to know if I could get any kind of clarification.

Thanks for taking the time to write up such a thorough response! :)
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby srs5694 on Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:11 pm

Veluriel wrote:Like I said, my knowledge was simply based on what I had read from a cursory sweep of the internet. I think it was mostly my confusion on the difference between Secure Boot and EFI/UEFI.


Secure Boot is just one UEFI feature. Since mid-2011, most new computers have shipped with UEFI firmware, but most of these implementations until mid-2012 have lacked Secure Boot functionality. (Incidentally, UEFI is just EFI 2.x.)

Also, one ancillary point: Choosing a distribution (such as Ubuntu) does not lock you into that distribution's default desktop environment (such as Unity). The default is often the one that's most polished and best integrated into the OS as a whole, but you can install another desktop environment and use it.


I chose Mint because of its out-of-the-box functionality. I wanted a distro that would work as is with minimal fuss. I appreciate the ability to customize, but it's not really something I care deeply about. I'm more interested in just being able to use it right away and have it work.


Switching desktop environments is not a major production. To do so, you need to do two things:

  1. Install the alternative desktop environment via a package manager such as Synaptic. This involves a few mouse clicks and typing in a name, assuming you know what you want to use.
  2. When you next log in, select the desktop environment from a drop-down or pop-up menu. This takes about 2-3 mouse clicks.

This is much easier than troubleshooting even a minor boot issue, so if it's a choice between (1) a distribution with good UEFI and Secure boot support that requires installing a new desktop environment and (2) a distribution with poor UEFI support that comes with the desktop environment you want, go with option 1.

Alternatively, you can install shim and sign your Linux boot loader(s) or reconfigure Secure Boot in a more radical way so that you take control of it completely and boot both OSes in secure mode.


Thank you for the advice, but this seems beyond my current capabilities. As a side question, is there any possibility that "shim" or this particular series of actions above could do irreparable damage? (Again, I understand there's always risk. I'm trying to minimize it by asking what is easy to screw up and cause unfixable problems.)


Irreparable harm is next to impossible for software to create. The usual worst-case scenario is that the software will do serious damage to your files or filesystems. Neither shim nor Secure Boot in general is likely to do that.

That said, many people throw up their hands and re-install Linux over problems that an expert would consider trivial to fix. This is a pity, because a little Googling or asking a question on a forum (and waiting a day or two for a response) will produce a simpler fix, and going that route will result in some learning that may be useful down the road. A problem installing shim could certainly produce this sort of problem -- a computer that won't boot at all, for instance, because a critical file is missing or an NVRAM entry has been changed. Such problems can be overcome by typing a command or two.

And I've yet another question; When people say "glitches with EFI/UEFI," what do they mean? Do they mean that the system cannot boot at all? That certain functions within the OS don't work? I'm a little confused about what the glitches are. I'd assume that it means that the system won't boot, since it's a boot issue, but I just wanted to know if I could get any kind of clarification.


EFI problems are usually boot problems, although in rare circumstances they can be problems accessing hardware such as video hardware or network interfaces after booting. Common examples include:

  • Secure Boot doesn't work, resulting in a boot to Windows with no option to boot Linux.
  • A buggy firmware results in an inability to boot Linux; the system always boots Windows.
  • Linux was installed in BIOS mode rather than EFI mode, resulting in either a boot to Windows or a boot to Linux with no option to boot Windows.
  • The Windows option isn't set up correctly by GRUB, resulting in an inability to boot Windows, although Linux boots fine.
  • It all works fine for a while, but then the Linux boot option disappears. On a dual-boot system, the Windows boot option might or might not disappear. This is common after updating the firmware, and is caused by NVRAM entries being lost.
  • The installer won't boot at all.
  • Linux boots, but produces a blank screen.

As you can see, some symptoms appear multiple times in that list, but with different causes. This can make diagnosing a problem tricky, especially for somebody inexperienced with EFI.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby Veluriel on Tue Dec 25, 2012 12:27 am

srs5694 wrote:
Switching desktop environments is not a major production. ...


You have to understand that I am a Windows user functioning in this Linux environment. I have enough knowledge to be able to get by, and I seek help when and where I need it, but that's about it. I'm comfortable with Mint at this point. I'm not "hardcore" by any means, and I just want a relaxing, no muss experience. This is why Mint is rising to the top. The quality provided, the helpfulness of the community, the out-of-the-box experience that Windows users are familiar with - Mint gives people what they want and what they need. They make it easy for us casual users. Members of the forums offer assistance when they can, and they do so with minimal snobbishness as I've seen. (And I have seen plenty of superiority complexes.)

if it's a choice between (1) a distribution with good UEFI and Secure boot support that requires installing a new desktop environment and (2) a distribution with poor UEFI support that comes with the desktop environment you want, go with option 1.


Or nothing at all. (Or in my case, wait it out.)

That said, many people throw up their hands and re-install Linux over problems that an expert would consider trivial to fix. This is a pity, because a little Googling or asking a question on a forum (and waiting a day or two for a response) will produce a simpler fix, and going that route will result in some learning that may be useful down the road.


Which is exactly why I'm here. I'm here asking for help, advice, and to tap the minds of those who have far more experience and passion than I. I am not an expert by any standard, nor do I aim to be. I learn where and when I need to, not because I am possessed by a drive to do so. I can understand your pity or even frustration, but the reality is that there are more and more casual Linux users as distros become more polished and readily available to the general public. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy learning, but for me (and the limitations of my life) it's in small sections here and there, a patchwork of an understanding.

EFI problems are usually boot problems, although in rare circumstances they can be problems accessing hardware such as video hardware or network interfaces after booting. Common examples include...


Thank you for the list. It makes it very easy to understand the frustration that can occur, and has likely pushed me towards simply waiting. While I'm not looking forward to using Windows 8, I'm not particularly pressed about installing Linux. I still have other machines, and Windows is usable. I'm not familiar nor comfortable with any other distro, and while this may be seen as a weakness or a fault by some, it's simply the way it is for me. I will wait until Mint is as EFI glitch-free as possible.

Thank you for taking the time to explain all of this. These forums are tremendously reliable and helpful, and it's only because of the vast knowledge base its users have that this is so.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby srs5694 on Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:24 am

Veluriel wrote:Thank you for the list. It makes it very easy to understand the frustration that can occur, and has likely pushed me towards simply waiting. While I'm not looking forward to using Windows 8, I'm not particularly pressed about installing Linux. I still have other machines, and Windows is usable. I'm not familiar nor comfortable with any other distro, and while this may be seen as a weakness or a fault by some, it's simply the way it is for me. I will wait until Mint is as EFI glitch-free as possible.


Keep in mind that EFI glitches vary greatly from one system to another; many of them are caused by bugs or quirks in the EFI firmware itself, or by interactions of bugs in the distribution's EFI support with the firmware. Thus, it may work fine for you on System A but fail on System B. One thing you could do with minimal effort and close to 0 risk is to download whatever version of Mint you'd like to install and boot the installer in its "live CD" mode. Check for the presence of a directory called /sys/firmware/efi. If it's present, that means that the installer has booted in EFI mode. Such a boot means that one whole class of EFI-related installation problems won't occur (at least, not if you boot into EFI mode when you do the installation). If you can't find that directory, then chances are you booted in BIOS mode, which would require extra steps after installing to get it to work, should you install.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby lexon on Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:02 pm

travo5100 wrote:Hello everyone,
i am new to the forum (long time lurker) but have been using mint for over a year now. i am buying a new laptop but all the ones that I want and can afford all proudly proclaim "Windows 8 installed". What I want to do is get a decent newer model computer and ceremoniously wipe Windows 8 off and install mint in it's place. the question I have is anyone running into issues with this "Secure Boot" feature? I've seen one UEFI bios at Fry's where it can be disabled. What I really don't want is to receive this $800 piece of equipment and all it able to do is run Windows 8. Any help would be appreciated.

Trav


One fellow in the Open Chat forum just did that with an Asus laptop that came with W8. He claims, no issues. Wiped the HD and dual booted with W7 and Mint. He did not like W8.
Look a couple forums down from this forum.
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Re: New Windows 8 laptops

Postby yonnie on Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:17 pm

Every computer sold with windows counts as a MS purchase! See if you can't order a computer without windows installed or with Linux pre-installed! Try Newegg and Dell if Fry's won't deal. Fry's customer service sometimes do make deals if you get high enough up the food-chain.
You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
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