Mint 17.1 and Windows 8.1 dual boot on Acer Aspire ES1-512
I'd like to add my thanks to the long list and to add a bit of specific info. I just got my first Windows computer since abandoning XP for Mint in 2008.
It's a laptop for my wife who is a technophobic teacher who needs Windows to run educational resources.
The laptop is an Acer ES1-512. I took a bit of a chance on this because I have seen a lot of tales of struggle with Acer laptops running Linux and W8.1. Posts like this on forums gave me the confidence to have a go. In the end I have had to scratch around to overcome some difficulties but as I write I have the system running the way I want it. This model does have a few peculiarities in the BIOS but more later. Dreading the usual run of Windows infections and reinstallation I wasn't going to let my beloved loose on the laptop until I got a proper OS alongside the Windows junk. So I took a deep breath and worked on it all afternoon.
I first shrank the C drive. Bear in mind the laptop was straight out of the box so there was a clean installation on the C drive. I disabled virtual memory in Windows, rebooted, defragged and found I could, if I wanted to, shrink the C drive right down to 25GB. In the end I plumped for 70GB and created a large NTFS partition in the resulting empty 390GB for data to keep her stuff separate from the OS and still accessible to Linux. I moved all the "Documents", "Music" and other default storage locations over to the new partition.
I left 80GB unallocated to install Mint 17.1 and leave some empty space for a future installation, though hopefully an LTS Linux will probably see us through. There's now a 35GB "hole" in the drive I can fall back on whenever I choose for whatever I want.
I created a live USB installation with Rufus using Windows on the laptop using an ISO of Mint/Cinnamon 17.1. I specified UEFI/GPT
mode when creating the Rufus drive. The laptop has a GPT partition layout and a UEFI partition so this seems most appropriate. I left the secure boot function on. I could find no option for Fast Boot to disable. I just told Windows to Restart every time I wanted to go into the BIOS.
The rather meagre BIOS is accessed by an early tap on the F2 key as you boot. It has pages titled Main
In the Main
page you need to enable the F12 boot menu.
On the Security
page, create a Supervisor Password to unlock the menu. Make it a very memorable one! Make a note... don't lock yourself out!
Once the password is created you can go to "Select an UEFI File as trusted
". I started by enabling the EFI file on my USB stick For some reason there are two .efi files on my Mint 17.1 USB drive. I think I got it working with /efi/boot/grubx64.efi rather than /efi/boot/bootx64.efi but if it has to be the other way round anyone going through this step will find out by trial and error. I know I did.
When you select an EFI file to trust, the BIOS asks you for a name for it. This will appear both on the F12 boot menu AND the boot order list on the Boot
page of the BIOS so make the BIOS name of your USB efi meaningful, e.g. USB0M17grub
depending on which USB socket and which efi file you have chosen. Some care is needed here because my USB drive was listed by the BIOS under port USB0 [there are also USB1 and USB2]. The EFI file on the Boot menu remained linked in the BIOS to the port I first inserted the USB drive. It wouldn't boot in the other sockets. So use the same USB socket throughout.
Once the EFI file is picked out in the Security menu it appears at the bottom of the boot order list on the BIOS Boot
menu. But you can access the same device on the F12 menu when booting so this is enough for now.
Booted using the F12 menu, ran the live distro and partitioned, rebooted and ran the installation exactly as instructed above. Just do what it says. The EFI partition is sda2. After installation I went back to the BIOS to Select an UEFI File as trusted
to enable the new permanent Mint EFI file. This resides in the EFI folder in the ubuntu folder listed by the BIOS on the hard drive HDD0. Selecting the grubx64.efi file did the trick.
So by the end of day 1 I had a working dual boot system. I changed the boot order to put the Mint Grub at the top. The resulting Grub menu had an option to boot the Windows boot manager which then goes straight into Windows 8.1.
Day 2 and I turned on the laptop only to find that both the installed and USB versions of Mint wouldn't boot. I went into the boot options and disabled the splash and quiet options so I could watch the process. It was hanging at the same point every time. The solution was found at viewtopic.php?f=46&t=177619#p937590
and in the post below it.
If you want to run Mint on one of these laptops you may well run into this problem from the start. If your boot hangs [either from the USB or installed hard drive version], go back to the Grub menu and select the line used to boot Mint. Don't press Enter, press "e
" before the time runs out and you will see a lot of boot options which are editable - you can just run down with the cursor and add and delete text as you will. After the line with "quiet splash" enter the following text:
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You should then boot into Mint using the F10 key or Ctrl-X.
When you have a successfully installed system you will need to make the blacklist entry permanent to avoid the tiresome boot edit process. In your installed Mint system run a terminal and enter
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sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
Edit the file by adding these lines to the end:
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Save the file and reboot. All should be well. This also fixes the shutdown process which fails to complete without this modification.
The Acer ES1-512 is not expensive, it's a mighty big screen and a reasonable spec for £200 UK. I'm no guru, I just take the time to read up before I attempt a project like this and I have to say that despite the risk I took where no-one appears to have gone before [looking for specific help with this model returned nothing] it has paid off handsomely.
I hope that other potential buyers will find this information useful and reassuring!