Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dual Boot Linux Mint 13 with Windows 8 UEFI

I just bought a  new Dell Inspiron 3520 from Best Buy for $399.  I could not pass this machine up for the price:

By far, this is the newest computer I've ever owned. I have currently a 1.4 GHz P4 desktop that I got for free.  This replaced a slightly slower 1.2 GHz P3.  I've been watching Craigslist for a nice used laptop and I when this came along I could not pass it up.

The first thing I learned about this new machine is that it uses a booting spec called UEFI.  It appears that this whole scheme is devised to keep new Windows 8 approved PCs from running anything but Windows 8.

There are many articles on this already but here is my experience with installing Linux Mint 13 next to Windows 8.  I used information from several sources -- this page in particular was very helpful.

So, the first step in all of this is to shrink the existing Windows partition, freeing up space that will be used for the Linux installation.  My new hard drive is 500 GB so after defragging the drive I decided to make as much space available as possible, hopefully splitting the drive in half:  250 GB for Windows and 250 GB for Linux.

Control Panel --> System and Security --> Administrative Tools --> Computer Management --> Storage --> Disk Management

Here you can shrink the existing Windows partition.  It is pretty straightforward.  Right click the main Windows partition and select "Shrink Volume".

Now you've got free space to work with.  Ok, now boot to Linux Mint with the Live DVD.

Here I learned something new -- you can't just boot from whatever device you want anymore.  Remember when you had to specify the device boot order in the BIOS settings?  You could boot from the CD-ROM first, then the floppy drive, then the hard disk, or whatever order you want?  Well, this is now called the 'legacy' method of booting.  In order to boot from the Mint DVD, I needed to start the PC into the boot menu and switch back to the legacy boot method.  With this PC you need to press F12 during the boot to get to the boot options screen:

And then:

Now with the Mint LiveDVD in the drive (I got mine very quickly via Torrent), you should be able to boot the machine into Linux.  Note that some LiveDVDs out there can be booted in the UEFI mode, just that the one I have was not one of them.  So you may not need to change boot options depending on the distro you're installing.

Start the Mint installer (the Install Linux Mint icon on the desktop), and click "Something Else" when asked what you want to do:

Select the free space area that you just created in Windows, and click the Add button.

I just created a 200 MB /boot partition...

Now create a root partition.  Leave enough for a swap partition, which should be the same size as the amount of RAM your machine has, plus a little more.  I have 4 GB of RAM so I've left about 5 GB of space for the swap partition.  Some people like to create a separate /home partition but I've never done this on any other machine.  There may be some compelling reasons to create a /home partition but for most people it isn't necessary.

Here is the swap partition:

Now, select the location for the bootloader installation.  Make this the partition where you created /boot.  In my case it is /dev/sda7:

Now click "Install Now" and you will be greeted with the following message:

Click Continue and let the installation finish.

Now we need to mod the UEFI partition to allow booting to Linux Mint.  Fortunately Ubuntu has a tool to do this.  Ubuntu has information on UEFI and installing on a UEFI system here.  I'll be using the boot-repair tool in order to facilitate booting from UEFI.  Since Ubuntu and Mint are from the same mold, this tool should work fine for us. 

Follow the instructions to install boot-repair.  Basically in a terminal window:

   sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get update

and then

   sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && boot-repair

By typing the above commands, the boot-repair tool will immediately start up and start scanning partitions.  Eventually you should see a dialog that looks like this:

All I had to do was click "Recommended repair" and let it go.  There will be a couple of points where it asks you to cut/paste some lines into a terminal.  Do this exactly as directed and click the "Forward" button ONLY after completing those steps.  When it has finished, reboot the computer.  Go back to your boot options and return the the computer to UEFI boot mode.

If you were successful, you should see this grub boot menu on boot:

Optional:  If this helped you, click one of my ads!  If you don't see ads, disable your adblocker for this page!  :-)


  1. hey i tried this on my acer, but after i swith back to uefi, i get the error 'windows boot loader has been blocked by the current security policy' and now i can only boot to my liveUSB. please help me!

    1. I've just added a new post about how to recover when things go wrong: Maybe there is something there that can help you? Hope it helps.

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  6. Windows 8 that many people use, and I have it too. For those who have never used Windows 8 can be used to load it.