SolydX on Acer Aspire and Acer Travelmate

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ilu
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SolydX on Acer Aspire and Acer Travelmate

Postby ilu » 02 May 2016 01:41

This weekend I equipped 3 more Acer notebooks with SolydX. The most difficult part was to force the Acer Bios/Efi to boot the live system. It's hellbent on booting Windows. I could not get it to work with a boot DVD but managed with a USB flash drive. Wasn't straight forward though.
What I did:
1. Boot into Windows, make space and completely shut down the computer.
2. Power on the system. As soon as the first logo screen appears, press F2 to enter the BIOS. Be quick!
3. Use the right arrow key to select Main, look for F12 Boot Menu and enable it.
4. Now select Security and set a Set Supervisor Password. Write it down. Password on Boot should stay disabled.
5. Now select Boot, leave Boot Mode in UEFI, use down arrow key to select Secure Boot, press Enter and disable it.
6. Arrange the boot devices with F5 and F6 so that Network Boot and Windows Boot Manager are on the bottom of the list and DVD and USB devices are at the top.and press Enter.
7. Press the F10 key and select Yes to save the changes and exit the BIOS.
8. Insert the USB flash drive, exit Windows if you were to slow and hit F12 immediately after startup. Now you should see the USB drive to boot the live system.
9. Install as usual and reboot. You will most probably see Windows again. Stay calm, reboot and hit F2. Be quick of course.
10. In the BIOS check under Boot whether Secure Boot is enabled again - it was on 2 of the 3 netbooks and it should be - then again select Security and there "Select an UEFI file as trusted for executing" and press Enter.
11. Something like "HDD0 " in white letters will show up. Press the Enter key. Next select EFI and press Enter. Now you will (among others) see SolydXK, select it and press Enter. After that select "grubx64.efi" and press Enter. In the following "Add an new file" window with the question: "Do you wish to add this file to allowable database?" type in Grub (or some other name) and press the Enter key twice.
12. Press F10 to Save and Exit BIOS. On restart be quick to hit F2.
13. Now use the cursor keys to choose Boot and look for the new boot file: "EFI File Boot 0: Grub. Move it to the top of the list.
14. Press F10 to Save and Exit BIOS. Now the Grub boot menu should show up.
15. If this does not work but you see "secure boot forbids loading module" (in my case "from <hd0, gpt3>/boot/grub/x86_64-efi/normal.mod") with the grub rescue prompt, deactivate Secure Boot again. After saving with F10 you should be able to boot into Grub and choose SolydXK.
16. If everything works and you were able to boot with Secure Boot, enter BIOS again with F2 and remove the supervisor password: press Enter, type in old password and hit Enter 4 times. If you leave the supervisor passwort, you might forget it and that would be bad.
17. Boot Windows and disable "Fast Startup" in System Settings - Control Panel - Power options if a data partition is formatted with NTFS and used by both systems.

To be honest, the whole process was a pita. On the other hand Acer has a support hotline that is willing and able to guide you through the BIOS procedures.
I would really like to fix the problem in step 15. so that Secure Boot can be reenabled. I don't think it's an Acer problem but a linux problem. It occured on the only notebook that does not dualboot. So there is no MSWin involved, only SolydX. Reinstalling grub with the --uefi-secure-boot option did not help. Somebody said he fixed the problem with the help of this document: https://www.wzdftpd.net/blog/tag/uefi.html - this is way over my head. Any suggestions?

kurotsugi
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Joined: 09 Jan 2014 00:17

Re: SolydX on Acer Aspire and Acer Travelmate

Postby kurotsugi » 03 May 2016 21:15

that was a complicated one. I recall I was using a lot simpler method on acers.

it depends on the system config i.e: dualboot win7 vs dualboot win8 or newer vs pure linux. dualbooting with win 7 would be lot easier since it was using the old MBR scheme. simply change the boot mode to "legacy" and it will works.

on win 8 newer, simply turn off the secure boot option. in simpler terms it means "don't boot other than windows". secure boot means that it will automatically boot OS which has signature matched the database in the BIOS (on default it only contain windows because linux can't afford to pay these manufactures) and disabling it actually doesn't means that your system is less secure by any means. what you did was register the linux as trusted OS so that the BIOS will allow it to boot. the problem was that sometimes the system can't properly recognize the linux and still thought it as unknown system. there's no better option than turned it off for linux user.

on pure linux, simply use legacy or hybrid mode instead of UEFI and change the partition scheme to MBR instead of GPT ones. it will make stuff lot easier. else, we can use UEFI with secure boot disabled.

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ilu
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Re: SolydX on Acer Aspire and Acer Travelmate

Postby ilu » 04 May 2016 11:51

Well, there might be other solutions if the situation had been different but if wishes were horses .... The notebooks had no Win 7 but Win 8 and they wanted to keep the Win installation. Keeping the harddisk as it is is also mandatory because nobody has install disks (recovery partitions instead) or the license code anymore, so GPT always has to stay. And disabling secure boot forces you to set a bios password which is a problem because people tend to forget it over the years.
So your way might be simpler but is not really an option in most dual booting situations today.
kurotsugi wrote:in simpler terms it means "don't boot other than windows".
It means "don't bring your own boot media" which is not a bad idea on notebooks (which can be lost or stolen). Thus the obligatory boot password when disabling secure boot.
kurotsugi wrote:secure boot means that it will automatically boot OS which has signature matched the database in the BIOS (on default it only contain windows because linux can't afford to pay these manufactures) and disabling it actually doesn't means that your system is less secure by any means. what you did was register the linux as trusted OS so that the BIOS will allow it to boot. the problem was that sometimes the system can't properly recognize the linux and still thought it as unknown system. there's no better option than turned it off for linux user.
There have been no boot problems after registering the linux boot file. Seems that as long as you have Win on board Win ensures the cryptographic signature also for the grub boot file. The link I posted explains how to self sign the boot file if Win is not present. Has anybody here ever tried that?
kurotsugi wrote:on pure linux, simply use legacy or hybrid mode instead of UEFI and change the partition scheme to MBR instead of GPT ones. it will make stuff lot easier. else, we can use UEFI with secure boot disabled.
We can't do that because people might need a Windows install later on. The old Win notebook might die and you can't have a business here without Win - if nothing else tax software needs it. And most freelancer's software too. It's a strain to get tax software working under wine again and again every year. This year I did not manage but I'm still working on it.

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Zill
Posts: 1850
Joined: 13 Aug 2013 14:28
Location: Lincolnshire, UK

Re: SolydX on Acer Aspire and Acer Travelmate

Postby Zill » 04 May 2016 13:11

ilu wrote:
kurotsugi wrote:on pure linux, simply use legacy or hybrid mode instead of UEFI and change the partition scheme to MBR instead of GPT ones. it will make stuff lot easier. else, we can use UEFI with secure boot disabled.
We can't do that because people might need a Windows install later on. The old Win notebook might die and you can't have a business here without Win - if nothing else tax software needs it. And most freelancer's software too. It's a strain to get tax software working under wine again and again every year. This year I did not manage but I'm still working on it.
Having personally never "needed" or even "used" Windows for over ten years now, I am quite happy running pure Linux software. However, as I am retired, my tax affairs are simple and so do not need any online returns. Having said that, most dealings with the UK government and commercial organizations can be done online through a standard web browser as long as javascript is enabled.

If Windows applications are really demanded by some authorities then, firstly, I suggest lobbying them to open their systems up to non-proprietary software. Secondly, until they do this, just keep one tatty old Windows machine solely for running these applications. Then you can keep your good machine(s) enjoying the wonderful benefits of running pure Linux. :-)

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ilu
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Re: SolydX on Acer Aspire and Acer Travelmate

Postby ilu » 04 May 2016 14:42

You are in a nice situation, but most freelancers are worse off. As a medic, a lawyer, a tax consultant - you name it - you need software to comply with your bureaucratic counterparts - bar associations, public health service, tax office - and you have to buy that software yourself. And guess what software you can buy in the market? Right, Windows and only Windows. You are free to develop your own software package (and these are really complex packages) on a Linux basis but nobody does because nobody expects to generate revenue that way. So you are stuck with Windows and that's it. You can't even complain because the market's free, so what? But let's don't discuss reasons here, this tut is about how to either single boot or dual boot (whatever the user chooses for whatever reasons) Linux on Acer devices.

kurotsugi
Posts: 2116
Joined: 09 Jan 2014 00:17

Re: SolydX on Acer Aspire and Acer Travelmate

Postby kurotsugi » 05 May 2016 06:49

unfortunately, nope. never. have installed linux on many acers. never found any require password with secureboot disabled yet. neither did my asus's. neither did many other brands. years experience with linux tell me that secureboot can/need to be disabled. people always prefer disk encryption for their data protection so practically I never found someone ever need that feature.

personally, if I'm in your position I'll prefer more personalized and less technical approach. I'll start with whether if they need secureboot. if they didn't know what is it, they never use it, so you can safely turn it off. else, since most acers have external battery you can hide the password on them or give a card (preferably your bussiness card. good for business. easy to remember. easy to kept) which contain bios password. when they need the password they'll quickly found it. you can also use a 'hard to break' but 'generic' password so that you didn't have to remember each of them.


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