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.