Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Questions about SolydX and SolydK installation.
atlr2112
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Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby atlr2112 » 13 Feb 2014 14:08

Hi all, I've just joined the forums as of today.

I've been using SolydK for a few months now and I love it. The problem is, I can no longer
ignore the Windows 8 side of this machine.

Specs:
Dell Inspiron 15z (8GB Ram, Core i7 Processor)
Windows 8 came pre-installed in Secure Boot mode with UEFI

I've turned off Secure boot in order to properly install SolydK.

I've recently downloaded and used Ubuntu's Boot repair CD, as "not much else" has
worked in making sure that loading GRUB doesn't mess up the Windows MBR.

The issue I'd like to solve is, can I get Windows 8 to actually be bootable from the GRUB of SolydK?

At this point, I'd even settle for a way to get the Windows 8 Boot loader to properly find and boot
my SolydK install. Seems Windows Boot loader (with restored MBR) has maybe wiped away Grub?
Hard to tell - what I do know is that these 2 boot loaders are seemingly "Always at Odds" with eachother,
forcing me to mess up 1 of them just to boot into the other OS.

In Windows 8 I've used EasyBCD but I'm not sure this is the best tool, or perhaps I'm not using
it correctly. EasyBCD never seems to boot a linux install. Even when turning Off secure boot and
booting into Windows, the Grub process (where you tell EasyBCD about your linux (such as "what partition it resides on")
never seems to work - booting to linux is always a fail.

Any ideas/success stories that would work for this Dell?

Thanks,
Adam

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Arjen Balfoort
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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby Arjen Balfoort » 13 Feb 2014 18:15

Hi atlr2112, and welcome to our forum.

I'm afraid I can't help you there.
I've got a dual boot laptop, and I simply enabled the legacy BIOS.
I installed SolydK, and Grub on one partition, while leaving Win8 alone.
While booting, I select the drive to boot from, and that's not exactly what you try to achieve.

I hope someone else here is going to help you with this.


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cobb
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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby cobb » 14 Feb 2014 16:06

Hi Adam - Welcome to the SolydXK family! Not sure if I'll be able to help you out here but I'm willing to give it a go.

A little disclaimer is in order first though to avoid confusion: I do not have or will probably never have Windows 8 on a laptop or otherwise. I also do not have a system with UEFI bios but will probably be dealing with that myself on my next build. Most of my stuff is somewhat old. My newest system is this Acer laptop with one of the first AMD apu system (E-350) but it's a legacy bios with Windows 7. So Windows 8 and UEFI (even in legacy mode) may not work the same as my setup. Make sure you have a backup of any critical data/documents from both Windows 8 and your SolydK install. I am also running SolydX NOT solydK so I'm not sure if there are any differences in the grub versions. I don't think that will matter though.

OK.. with that out of the way, I AM using EasyBCD on this Acer laptop to triple and for a while I was quad booting 3 additional distros. EasyBCD is a nice program but I noticed the same wrinkle you're seeing (not finding a grub to boot) when I got over 1 additional distro (worked smooth with Win7 and 1 linux distro but always has issues with the 2nd and subsequent distros). I did find a work around though and that's what I'll try to share with you. I am running version 2.2.0.182 of EasyBCD and it works well for Win7 multibooting. I would make sure you have the latest version and I'm sure you do.

The way I approached this issue (I had never multibooted before and didn't or still don't know that much about grub/linux so proceeded cautiously) was planning. I had an end game in mind before I started (quad boot Win7 and 3 Linux distros) and a 500gb hard drive to work with. Here's how I laid it out and what I wanted.
1. Leave my existing 2 windows partitions alone (win 7 has a 100mb loader partition in addition to the "normal windows partition"
2. Let windows be in control of the MBR and install grub in the root partition of each distro.
3. Have a separate root and home partition for each distro.
4. have a separate NTFS partition for windows data backup
5. Have a separate ext4 data partition for backups and file exchange between the 3 bootable distros.
6. Swap partition to be shared among all distros.
7. Grub will be installed in the root partition of each distro's install so as not to affect the MBR and overall boot control if anything happens to an installed grub.

I installed Windows 7 first and used it's partitioning tool to shrink the partition and free up space for my other partitions. I then installed EasyBCD and set it up to have Windows control the boot from the MBR and made sure it booted with just Windows as the only selection. Then I booted a live cd of Mint14 and used Gparted to lay out the rest of my hard drive which looks like this:

Code: Select all

bill@laptop ~ $ sudo blkid
[sudo] password for bill: 
/dev/sda1: LABEL="System Reserved" UUID="7A02857202853463" TYPE="ntfs" 
/dev/sda2: UUID="847CA0847CA0731A" TYPE="ntfs" 
/dev/sda3: LABEL="winbackup" UUID="53586DEB47F4F180" TYPE="ntfs" 
/dev/sda5: UUID="58d99074-5247-405c-a381-e0f0359dd470" TYPE="swap" 
/dev/sda6: UUID="8e392a6c-bbf9-456c-91dc-3db4ebd8e1a0" TYPE="ext4" 
/dev/sda7: UUID="98f05436-855f-468c-b938-43cb225b31a9" TYPE="ext4" 
/dev/sda8: UUID="f2a4ff3d-065a-456c-aaf6-146448cd03ad" TYPE="ext4" 
/dev/sda9: UUID="9098cf50-6de6-435a-a3b0-57794a444512" TYPE="ext4" 
/dev/sda10: LABEL="linshare" UUID="b2224ae0-772c-462a-9a5e-ad96d669dbd9" TYPE="ext4" 
So I have 1 hard drive which is sda and the MBR on sda is where the boot loader in control resides (EasyBCD which is just a front end for the Windows bootloader). Sda1 is the 100mb Windows partition I mentioned and sda2 is the actual Windows install. Sda3 is my windows backup partition. These first 3 partitions are all "primary" partitions. I then made an extended partition which became sda4 and isn't visible but merely holds however may logical partitions you create. In this case that's sda5-10 (there were 2 more when I quad booted but have since dropped back to triple boot so I just absorbed those 2 into sda10 which is my Linux data backup and share. Confused yet? :lol: No? Good because we're getting to the meat and 'taters part..

Once you have all your partitions laid out and while still in your live cd version of whatever distro, open a terminal and run the blkid command (sudo) as above and either print it or write it down specifically the sdaxx, UUID and format type (ext4,ntfs etc). This will help keep it straight during install and setting EasyBCD up. In my case, sda5 is the shared swap file. Sda6 is the "root" partition for the first distro, sda7 is the "home" partition for the first distro, sda8 is the root of the second distro and finally sda9 is the home partition of the second distro.

In your case you will probably only have 2 or maybe 3 additional partitions (swap and root or swap, root and separate home) depending on your plans.

So the first install went to sda6 as root and sda7 as home and I put grub in sda6. I then installed the next distro to sda8 as root and sda9 as home and installed that grub to sda8. Both of these installs are using grub2 but it really shouldn't matter if it were grub 1 or 2 as the principal is the same. Note that I installed the first distro then set it up in EasyBCD and made sure I could boot into it then installed the second one and back to EasyBCD/Windows to set it up. I did the same for the third one when I had the quad boot thing going.

So on to how I handled the setup in windows/EasyBCD. When I added the first distro to the boot menu for the type of Install I chose Linux and grub2 and forced/pointed it to the partition I installed grub on which was sda6. In my version of EasyBCD there is a checkbox for "use EasyBCD's copy of grub". Do NOT check that as you want to use the grub version that's installed on its' partition. For me it worked fine and I could boot to either Windows or the install of Mint14 I had on sda6. This is where you're having issues and where I ran into an issue trying to add the second distro on sda8. The Windows boot loader did not seem to like having 2 items with both being grub2. So I just tried the "grub legacy" selection and the "FreeBSD/PC-BSD" pointed to sda8 where the second grub 2 was installed and I don't remember which one worked (you can't see what was selected after it's setup) but I had the same issue with a third distro and did the same thing. After hitting the "setup" or " apply" button in EasyBCD it adds the item to the menu and should work.

So if you installed SolydK and had it put grub in the MBR (sda) overwriting the windows bootloader you probably had to repair the MBR to get windows to boot. If so, that blew grub out. If that's the case you should be able to either use the live cd or grub rescue/repair cd to reinstall grub to the root partition of your SolydK install and then go remove it from EasyBCD and try adding it again pointing to the right partition.

That's why I always put grub on the root partition of whatever I'm installing. I have another method for multi-booting just Linux without Windows involved but that's not relevant here. But what is relevant is I ALWAYS only let one bootloader control the boot from the MBR and all others go to their respective root partitions. Saves a lot of headaches when removing an install or replacing it with another.

Sorry for the long winded reply but I wanted to give enough background and detail so you could hopefully understand why I do it the way I did. I'm hoping this gets you going. If not, when you post back try to have the output from the "blkid" command so we can see your partition layout. You can do this from the SolydK live dvd and while in the live session, go grab a copy of "bootinfoscript" from here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/bootinfoscript/ extract it in your home folder somewhere and run it. It'll save it's output to a text file wherever you ran it from so copy that off and paste it back into a set of "code tags" along with the results of "blkid". Both will be helpful if further troubleshooting is required.. Good luck!
Technology slave by coincidence.. Linux user by choice.

atlr2112
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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby atlr2112 » 14 Feb 2014 16:39

Excellent advice! Thanks Cobb I will try that approach later on and advise.

You're absolutely correct in that I wrote to the mbr a move that I now regret LOL.

Cheers,
Adam

atlr2112
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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby atlr2112 » 15 Feb 2014 14:07

cobb wrote:So if you installed SolydK and had it put grub in the MBR (sda) overwriting the windows bootloader you probably had to repair the MBR to get windows to boot. If so, that blew grub out. If that's the case you should be able to either use the live cd or grub rescue/repair cd to reinstall grub to the root partition of your SolydK install and then go remove it from EasyBCD and try adding it again pointing to the right partition.

That's why I always put grub on the root partition of whatever I'm installing.
EasyBCD is version 2.2 and I haven't been able to get it working as of yet. It (bootloader) attempts to boot linux from either \NST\nst_linux.mbr, or, after playing with various settings, \NST\AutoNeoGrub1.mbr - both occur even though I've selected the pointing to be done on Partition 8. Solydk is installed on /dev/sda8 on the hard drive.

From a lot of googling, it seems UEFI and grub are not good partners, since EFI is not BIOS. So, even with the computer booting into Legacy Mode (with Secure Boot Off) I cannot seem to get easyBCD to correctly point to the known grub install done to /dev/sda8.

Continuing - I'll be using Ubuntu's "Boot Repair" CD to try and get grub installed to an additional (available) partition /dev/sda9 which (as recommended) has been flagged in gparted with 'bios_grub'. So far, any attempt to have easyBCD access it has failed (probably because I have not yet been successful in installing GRUB to /dev/sda9

I'll report back in at a later time. I'm confident that "something" will work.

For now, if it helps, here is the bootinfo summary from paste.ubuntu.com for my machine --
http://paste.ubuntu.com/6937348/

To all: I have a few questions:
  1. Tried using the LIVE DVD of SolydK to install GRUB to /dev/sda8 (root of install) and it hasn't worked at all. Does anyone have a tutorial/how-to for this, or is it a waste of time because of EFI vs. BIOS?
  2. Should I discard the Ubuntu "Boot Repair" CD as a tool to properly enable Win8 Bootloader to find & boot Linux?
  3. I've made a backup of my linux files under SolydK - should I reinstall the OS, and if so - do the following:
    1) do not install grub onto MBR (as that's what went wrong the first go-round)
    2) Is there a way to install SolydK in EFI or UEFI mode? Maybe this will save me some trouble.
Thanks,
Adam

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cobb
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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby cobb » 20 Feb 2014 03:14

Hey Adam,

I just had a chance to look at your bootinfo summary and it was quite confusing to say the least (due to the UEFI/GPT) compared to the "standard" summaries I've looked through. I can however see that grub did indeed get installed to sda8 as well as there being a boot flag set there (even though the boot flag doesn't seem to matter in all cases) but trying to decipher the partitions has me a bit lost due to my unfamiliarity with the Windows 8/UEFI combo.

Some of the output (from parted such as "parted lm" command) looks to have strange output but it might be due to my lack of knowledge with GPT/UEFI.

I see way more windows partitions than I expected to see. It looks like your actual Windows install is on sda5 and I can recognize the "Powerquest" recovery partition at sda6. I can see the "reserved extra windows" partition at sda3 (similar to 100mb one that windows 7 uses) and it looks like a recovery console at sda4. but then there's a small NTFS partition at sda9 for some reason. I can see how EasyBCD is confused.. ;) Anyway I'm not going to be much help at this point. I'd suggest dropping by the EasyBCD forums and do a little reading as I'm sure there's been a lot of UEFI/GPT and linux discussion.

I'll continue to poke around for solutions as time permits and if you do get it sorted out do update the thread as I know others are running into this as well. Just a quick search from the forum index for "uefi" brought up a few threads.
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atlr2112
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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby atlr2112 » 21 Feb 2014 19:41

Thanks for your time and your help here cobb.

Unfortunately, it's something that I'm going to have to revisit at a later time.

For the moment, I just need to get some things setup and done quickly with Linux. So, for the time being, I've wiped Solydk and installed Kubuntu in its place. Kubuntu does (somehow) properly set up a Grub list visible whether the computer is booting in UEFI mode, or in Legacy (BIOS) mode.

I've not totally abandoned the concept of Solydk, I'm more-or-less living with the reality that I chose a Windows 8 PC, where it's highly likely that Dell pre-installed all the software in Secure Boot and UEFI. Living with the reality that Fedora's installer confused me as well - but that's a separate topic all together. I should have (in retrospect) purchased a System76 machine and then installed Windows in a Virtual machine.

Please advise though (this is to the SolydXK folks) when EFI capability is rolled out. At that point it's likely that I'll go back to using Solydk on this laptop.

Again, thank you all for your time.

Adam

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cobb
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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby cobb » 22 Feb 2014 02:36

Adam - Glad to see you've settled/found a path forward to get you going for now and also glad to see you're not abandoning the idea of SolydK in the future. I am sorry we weren't able to get a better outcome for you and some of that is due to my lack of experience with UEFI systems and just a general smaller knowledgebase than I'd like with Linux and multi-boot in general. It's been an enjoyable challenge trying to figure this out and I have learned quite a bit and going to expand on that knowledge as well going forward so hopefully I'll be ready in the future when I get to upgrade point where I have to deal with EFI/UEFI myself. Thanks for sharing your problem.

I have continued to dig into this a bit for future reference and wanted to share some of what I've found that may be relevent if you decide to give it another try with SolydK at some point. I guess the most important item I found out is that EasyBCD is NOT EFI/UEFI capable so trying to use that for a boot manager/loader was certainly the wrong option. I found several very good reference items that should help if you're the type to dig in deeper and try to understand the process.

Rod Smith is the creator/author of a fork of the rEFIt EFI/UEFI boot manager called rEFInd. He has a wealth of knowledge about EFI and the boot process on his page at: http://www.rodsbooks.com/efi-bootloaders/index.html and http://www.rodsbooks.com/linux-uefi/ and info on his rEFInd boot manager http://www.rodsbooks.com/refind/index.html. He has an active thread going on the Mint forum that has some good general info in it http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.p ... 38beed7408 if you're into slogging through 10 pages.

Here is a link to a thread on the Debian forum that would be pretty relevent to trying to dual boot with Windows 8 and SolydK http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=81120.

Bottom line is it looks like it is do-able with SolydXK but just depends on learning the proper steps to work through it smoothly. It won't be a "press 2 buttons" in a gui and it works right now unfortunately but may get that easy in the future.

I've saved a copy of your boot-info script results for study and learning. Thanks for providing that. I'm downloading a trial copy of Windows 8 and since Virtual Box has an experimental EFI bios mode I'm going to experiment with it and see if I can get a better understanding of the process and maybe even be able to setup a dual boot in a vm with it simulating a rudimentary EFI install. If I'm ever successful I'll let you know..
Technology slave by coincidence.. Linux user by choice.

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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby zerozero » 22 Feb 2014 10:21

atlr2112 wrote:Please advise though (this is to the SolydXK folks) when EFI capability is rolled out. At that point it's likely that I'll go back to using Solydk on this laptop.
Schoelje is developing and testing a UEFI capable installer now; it might take some time but its on the way.
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atlr2112
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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby atlr2112 » 22 Feb 2014 17:29

Thanks again for your help Cobb I now feel a bit relieved regarding easy bcd.

The mint and Debian links will be of value soon, assured.

Zero zero I'm glad that Efi is in the works! I guess the icing on the cake is to provide choices of where to install the boot loader during the install process as I know I installed on MBR which messes up a win 8 secure boot uefi boot capability.

Looking forward to using solydk again!

Adam

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Re: Please Help: Dual Booting Windows 8 DELL Inspiron 15z

Postby sekkem » 23 Mar 2014 21:45

Hi, i really hope some day we will have the UEFI capability, i miss have Solyd in my desktop, good luck with it Schoelje :D
Live long and prosper!!!


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