Posted by: duskfire | December 9, 2013

New Laptop and Windows 8

If you had told me six months ago that the next laptop I ended up with would be very similar to the old one that died last spring, I probably would not have believed you. Yet, here I am.  It is an HP Pavillion, with a 17.3″ screen, 8 GB of RAM, a 750 GB capacity hard drive and an AMD processor (Elite Quad Core A10-5750M). It uses the AMD Radeon HD 8650G graphics card. It’s running Windows 8, of course. I picked it up from Walmart at a discount, and most reviews seem to be pretty positive. I should note that it does not have a touchscreen.

Even though I strongly prefer using Linux, my old laptop ran Windows 7, and at work that’s what I use. Windows 7 is really very good, it is Microsoft’s best operating system version by far, and it’s a pleasure to use.

Windows 8 is so VERY different than that. Subjectively so far, it jumps into my way whenever I try to do anything. I’ve been using it in desktop mode whenever possible. It works fine, and lets me play the games I want to, but I don’t appreciate having to constantly switch between the desktop and the tile interface that Windows 8 is trying to get us accustomed to use.

Putting Linux on this is definitely possible, only a little more complicated than before. I have enabled Legacy Boot and made a couple of attempts to boot from a flash drive. I tried 4 different editions of Linux: Linux Mint 16 32 bit, Ubuntu 13.10 64 bit, Kubuntu 13.10 32 bit, and Linux Mint 16 64 bit. I had the best success with Linux Mint 64 bit, which booted up and seems to run in live mode perfectly. Ubuntu 64 bit booted up, but the resolution was off and the only option seemed to be to choose to install, since the dock was off screen. I’m thinking that I picked the wrong file in the /boot folder. I might try to get Kubuntu 64 bit to run also, just to see if it will.

Also, when I enabled Legacy Boot, I made the USB flash drive the priority for both Legacy and Secure Boot. Despite this, I have found that you cannot just turn the computer on with the flash drive in and assume it will use that drive’s bootable OS. You must hit the Escape key to bring up the boot menu choices and manually select the flash drive (which is listed first).

My next post will go into more detail about the process, since I suspect that most HP Pavillions these days will be using this same method.

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Responses

  1. Windows 8 is different – wow, you can say that long and loud. What I find particularly irritating is that I keep getting into places that I can’t figure out how to get back out of again. Overall, it’s just plain nasty.

    Booting UEFI systems. After quite a lot of effort and experimentation, I have pretty much given up on using legacy boot on my UEFI systems. The Linux versions I want to load all support at least non-Secure UEFI boot, and I actually find it easier and cleaner to manage UEFI multi-boot than Legacy boot, believe it or not.

    However, one of the most important things you need to be able to do to manage UEFI multiboot is to update the EFI nvram boot parameters (using efibootmgr), and my experience on my HP Pavilion dm1 has been that it is not possible on that system – the blasted thing keeps overwriting any change I make, restoring the original values. That makes life much more difficult, to say the least.

    Drop me a private email if you would like to discuss this in more detail, I could send you some tips and examples of what I have done.

    jw


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