I had planned for a relatively quiet weekend which would have been a nice change for me after all the trips I have taken recently. “Would have been” is the key phrase here …
I was updating various things on one of my netbooks, the Acer Aspire V5, and I was like, “Damn, I’m going to let it install Windows updates as well. It probably is. better to follow the most important security patches, and anyway, what could it do wrong, since I hardly ever start Windows on this system? “
What can it do indeed. Grrrr. I started Windows Update as usual, and it looks normal (deadly slow). No error message, no problem, no update failure. Once finished, I let it restart. Then the fun began. When it tried to boot I got the message: No bootable device found.
OK, I thought to myself, calm down. This is an UEFI system, and they are well known to be a pain royal in the butt. Windows probably just wiped out the UEFI boot configuration or screwed it up in some other way. I restarted and hit F12 to get a boot picklist. Still no joy – he came up with an empty list.
My anger was mounting at this point, but I still told myself not to get too upset. I just needed to boot one of my Linux UEFI Live USB drives and then manually recreate the UEFI boot list. No problem. I grabbed the openSuSE 13.2 key, booted it, and decided to check the disk partitioning layout to find out where it was. But run blkid did not produce any output. Nothing. ‘But what is going on here?’ I was thinking.
Panic was starting to set in and pushing the level of anger even higher. ‘OK, run gparted and see exactly what Windows did to me, âI thought. And nothing. Empty. The entire hard drive was unallocated space.
It’s time to storm. Microsoft, I hate you! Hope all of you are doomed to endless purgatory trying to recover corrupted Windows systems!
OK, with that rant out of the way, what to do? The prospect of installing Windows from scratch was unappealing beyond description.
On top of that, even if I had it installed and run again, I would have to fight to get UEFI boot configured for Windows and Linux dual boot, and that in itself is a virtually endless struggle because Windows keep trying to “grab” the first boot.
So I decided to forget about Windows and reload this system from scratch as a Linux only system. It’s quite interesting, as I’ve never done this with a UEFI system before, so I’ll see if setting up and managing UEFI boot is really that much easier without Windows constantly trying to mock it. .
Then I had another thought: there are quite a few development and pre-release distros available right now, so why not make this system some sort of âpre-release test bedâ? , and load it with all that? It seemed like a good idea and a lot of fun, so I left. All the screenshots you will see in the text below were taken on the Aspire One V5 after completing each of the installations.
The first one was openSuSE (tumbleweed), as I prefer to use its UEFI boot configuration to handle multiboot with all the other versions I install.
I have found it to be the most flexible and reliable, and able to handle multi-boot with other UEFI systems. and non-UEFI (MBR) systems at the same time. The installation was very simple, as always.
He created all the necessary partitions. All I had to do was resize them to make room for the other distros I was going to install. No issues of any kind with hardware, software, UEFI boot configuration or anything else.
Wow, was that still nice. The day was starting to be much better than it was a short time ago. At this point, I was thinking to myself that I could have spent the rest of the day and a good part of tomorrow reinstalling Windows, but instead I spent 30 minutes installing Linux and the netbook is ready to use. again. Not bad.
Next, Fedora 22 Alpha. I haven’t had a chance to try this since it was announced about a week ago, so it was an added treat for me, not least because I’m always happy to see the latest developments and improvements to the ‘anaconda’ installer. I downloaded the workstation version, which has the Gnome3 desktop.
Other images are available for the Live versions of KDE, Xfce and LXDE. Fedora also installed without any problems, all hardware was recognized and configured, everything worked … surprisingly good and stable for an Alpha version!
A little note on this; anaconda has been complaining about my use of a “weak” password for some time, and it made me click “Done” twice to confirm that I really wanted to be a bad boy and use such a password . Well it seems that with this version anaconda won’t let me use a weak password no matter how many times I click “Done”. This may be configurable or otherwise preventable, I haven’t looked at it yet.
The next one was Debian GNU / Linux, version 8 (Jessie) of the RC1 installer which was released in January. Once again it started and installed without a hitch, all hardware was recognized and supported, with no need for additional drivers or non-FOSS repositories.
Debian and Fedora also handled the UEFI boot configuration without issue. They each added themselves to the UEFI boot list, which each time had the side effect of placing them at the top of the list and therefore the default boot target.
I could then manage this list and set the boot sequence, using Linux efibootmgr order. No complications, no mutual overwriting, and none of them got rude and tried to revert to the default boot position after manually changing it (if only Windows behaved this well with the boot config UEFI).
I would have liked to have installed a preview version of Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 (Betsy), but it is not yet available. There have been a number of “very soon now” comments in the Mint Blog and the Segfault Blog, but as of yet the pre-release has not seen the light of day.
Rather than dwell on installing the (extremely) old LMDE 201403 version … whoa, I hadn’t even thought about it. The latest version of Mint Debian is now a year old and has had some valuable updates during that year of life. Well, anyway, for lack of anything better, I settled for installing Linux Mint 17.1, the latest in the Mint lineup derived from Ubuntu.
I have learned from experience, however, that when I install Linux Mint and Ubuntu on the same system, I have to take into account their overlap. I don’t want to go into all the gory details here, but in short the problem is that Linux Mint 17 is based on Ubuntu (14.04 LTS) and it always uses the name ‘ubuntu’ for the UEFI boot directory.
If you don’t take any action to prevent it, the one you install second will overwrite the UEFI boot configuration of the first. Not nice, and not very fun.
The only solution I found is after installing the first one and before installing the second one, you need to create a second EFI boot partition and move the EFI boot directory from the first to this new partition. Finally, don’t forget to update the ‘fstab ‘accordingly.
Ubuntu was next on the pre-release results list, with version 15.04 slated for release next month. Rather than looking for a beta or RC (Ubuntu started doing something different in this version a few versions ago, but the different versions don’t do the same and the end result is too confusing for me to think about it). in concern), I just got the latest “daily version” from the next version.
I then transferred it to a USB stick using ‘dd’, as I do with pretty much all distros – not stopping to think that it doesn’t work with Ubuntu. Except this time it’s done! Hooray!
I hadn’t read or heard anything about it, so what a pleasant surprise. Startup, installation, setup and operation went smoothly, and again everything worked fine.
When I started, I expected to be done when I got to this point. But as I was browsing, picking up some weird data for this article, I noticed the announcement of Manjaro 0.9.0 pre-4.
I fell very much in love with Manjaro, so I decided to add that as well. I had to put my brain back into zombie mode (like I did with Ubuntu), because I downloaded the ISO, dumped it on a USB stick and booted it up – then when the Live USB started booting, I suddenly thought: wait, Manjaro doesn’t do UEFI boot yet, and I haven’t switched BIOS to Legacy boot! ‘
Obviously, Manjaro is using UEFI now, at least in this preview version, as the Live USB dongle started immediately. However, it’s not quite over yet: the installers didn’t seem quite capable of doing things right.
There are two installers, a CLI version and a GUI version, and I tried both and they both crashed when trying to install the bootloader. However, they did everything else so I was able to go back to openSuSE and configure the grub configuration there to handle a non EFI boot of Manjaro. Everything then worked normally, as with all other distributions of this system.
So, that’s it for today: I have five nice new pre-release Linux distros installed and working, all of which feature good UEFI manners and don’t make noise scribbling on the boot configurations of the. other. I also have a stable version, and as soon as Linux Mint Debian Edition Betsy debuts, I will add it as well. Good product! Thanks Microsoft!
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