some stuffs, and some others ...

Got a new laptop

Written by julien

My laptop is dying, it's not because of software, it's hardware, I try to dismantle it and clean a bit, but couldn't figure out what the problem is. Consequences are sticky touch and untimely stops (without abnormally high temperature) which is quite annoying. So I decided to get a new laptop, search a long time to have something matching my requirements, and finally decided that I'll have an Acer Aspire 1. It's less performing than my current laptop but fits my need and I don't want to spend too much money in it. Bad thing to order just before Christmas, it takes ages to be delivered, but finally, got it.

The laptop comes with Windows 10 installed (oh, I have a Windows license, hope Microsoft won't think they earn a new user) but I'm not a Windows user, and I didn't want to spend too much time with the system this time, so I decided to go for Ubuntu (spoil: bad choice). Latest version looks to have some issues with login, so I get the LTS (16.04) and create a bootable USB stick with it:

sudo dd bs=4M if=~/Download/ubuntu-16.04.3-desktop-amd64.iso of=/dev/sdb conv=fdatasync
(Change the path according to where is the iso file and where is your usb stick)

Now, time to start the new laptop, I plug the USB stick in, hit F2 several to go to BIOS option, it seems Ubuntu is Secure Boot compliant, but I prefer to be safe and ... Secure Boot option is grayed, and cannot be modified :( ... now that I'm there I activate the option to give the choice on where to boot by hitting F12 at startup, then F10 to save configuration change, and restart (ctrl+alt+Del). I hit F12, select the USB stick, then "Install Ubuntu". Few options to configure, installation process start ... and stay a very long time on the grub installation, ok there should be a problem, and I think it should be because of Secure Boot, let's try again to deactivate it. Quit all, restart, F2, and after few searches, you have to set a supervisor password in the BIOS to be able to deactivate Secure Boot (I'm afraid one day they'll just remove the possibility to deactivate it).

Start Ubuntu installation again, and ... same problem. Looking a bit around, problem looks to be because of EFI, solution is as follow:

  • Select "Try it" option instead of "Install Ubuntu"
  • Open a Terminal (crtl+alt+t) then launch the installer with the following commands
    sudo -s
    ubiquity -b
  • When the installation process finish (it works this time \o/), click on "Continue testing" and in the terminal that should still be opened, enter the following commands
    mount /dev/mmcblk0p2 /mnt
    mount /dev/mmcblk0p1 /mnt/boot/efi
    for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys; do sudo mount -B $i /mnt$i; done
    modprobe efivars
    apt install --reinstall grub-efi-amd64
    grub-install --no-nvram --root-directory=/mnt
    chroot /mnt
    echo nameserver >> /etc/resolv.conf
    apt update
    apt install grub2-common
    cd /boot/efi/EFI
    cp -R ubuntu BOOT

  • and then, you can reboot on your Ubuntu installation!

Phew, I'm wondering how a beginner can easily install a Linux distribution, as far as I know, Ubuntu is still one of the easiest to handle. Anyway, new laptop is working, I should have given a look at Windows 10 to see how I wouldn't liked it, but it's too late now. My keyboard is now in qwerty, so sorry in advanced for the accented characters when I'll write in French :)