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New Win 8 laptop - can't seem to boot from USB drive to install Linux

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi, I just bought this laptop from a Black Friday Walmart special: HP 14-b109wm

Unfortunately, I didn't realize it wouldn't have a disc drive until after I had unpacked it and pulled off all of the plastic covering on it, but oh well.

I have no interest in using Win 8 whatsoever, so the first thing I did was download an ISO of Linux Mint and use Unetbootin to write it as a bootable flash drive.
First, I tried to have Win 8 restart to load the USB drive on reboot, but that generated an error along the lines of the machine being unable to detect bootable media.

Next, I followed this guide: http://www.everydaylinuxuser.com/2013/09/install-ubuntu-linux-alongside-windows.html

I disabled Fast Boot and Secure Boot and changed my boot order to push the hard drive to the bottom of the list (there were two USB-related things, so I just let both boot before the HDD). The machine still booted into Win 8 instead of running as a live environment.

Then I tried installing Mint with the Windows installer. Seems less than ideal, but I gave it a shot anyway. When I tried to boot Mint, the boot manager said it couldn't find some particular file and wouldn't boot the OS. I was forced to boot back into Win 8 instead.

So I was considering returning it to the store because I really can't tolerate using that excuse for a PC operating system for more than about half an hour at a time. Currently I'm waiting for the system to scrub the drive which apparently takes approximately 20 hours to do (had already set up my user account with some personal data to log in and didn't realize how long it would take).

However, the hardware seemed like a decent deal at $278 for my needs - relatively light for a laptop, a low-end graphics chip that can probably play most games I would want to play on the go, and a decent sized HDD. I wouldn't mind trying again at purging Win 8 from it, but if I'm going to be returning it, it needs to be tomorrow or Saturday as I'll be heading home on Sunday.

Does anyone have any ideas that might work here? Could it be that the flash drive is not being recognized as a boot device because it's a fairly old one (4G)? I'm not sure if maybe the standards on these things ever changed.

Failing that, has anyone got any suggestions for similar, non-restrictive hardware in the same price range? This is the first laptop I've ever bought, and I haven't bought any pre-made desktops in more than ten years. I don't really have any idea how restrictive each brand is with their hardware other than knowing that a Chromebook is annoying to run any OS aside from Chrome OS, which doesn't accommodate my needs.

edit: turns out the drive scrub ETA was a function of Windows Progress Bar Syndrome. It apparently went from about 28% after about 5 hours as of a few minutes before I started making this thread to done over the course of about 15 minutes.
Edited by I has a bucket - 11/29/13 at 12:01am
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post #2 of 7
>Try it the official way. http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/create-a-usb-stick-on-windows

>I'm guessing you've tried pressing F12 on boot(or is it F9 for HP) to get to the "select boot device menu" and selected USB from there. Keep secure boot off, Enable Booting From USB, disable Fast StartUp. Enable "legacy support" Also check if you are running UEFI mode(bios). If you see "USB Floppy" in the boot order, push it up too.

Let us know how it goes
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post #3 of 7
Are you plugging it into a USB 3.0 port by any chance? Although it should work.
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post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenpachiroks View Post

>Try it the official way. http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/create-a-usb-stick-on-windows

>I'm guessing you've tried pressing F12 on boot(or is it F9 for HP) to get to the "select boot device menu" and selected USB from there. Keep secure boot off, Enable Booting From USB, disable Fast StartUp. Enable "legacy support" Also check if you are running UEFI mode(bios). If you see "USB Floppy" in the boot order, push it up too.

Let us know how it goes

The official way seems to have done it. smile.gif I guess the Unetbootin flash drive wasn't actually bootable after all, because when I opened the F9 options this time I saw an entry I hadn't seen before, which let me boot a live environment. I'll post once I've finished installing, but hopefully I won't have to take it back.
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post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by I has a bucket View Post

The official way seems to have done it. smile.gif I guess the Unetbootin flash drive wasn't actually bootable after all, because when I opened the F9 options this time I saw an entry I hadn't seen before, which let me boot a live environment. I'll post once I've finished installing, but hopefully I won't have to take it back.

Awesome thumb.gif

Hope everything goes smoothly.
If it doesn't, we're always here to help smile.gif
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post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Well, not so smooth sailing. I can start installing Mint from inside the live environment, set up my partitions (30G for root, 5G for swap, and the remainder to /home). When I restarted the first time, it booted the flash drive again. Boot order was set to start with the hard drive.

I then read that Win 8 OEMs would have a GPT layout. Found a guide to changing it to MBR with GParted and applied the changes. It appears that it's now set to MBR, so I tried installing again. Get to the part where I need to restart and the machine loads the flash drive up.

I tried removing the flash drive. The first time, I got an error, "No bootable device -- insert boot disk and press any key. This time I'm just getting a screen with a single flashing cursor at the top left.

I also tried using the F9 menu to explicitly load the hard drive. Same problem.

After that, I saw the "check integrity of the medium" option. I ran it and there were some errors, so I remade the bootable flash drive. I also set my partitions up with GPartEd this time. Did installation again, restart into GRUB for the flash drive. Ctrl + Alt + Del to reboot from there, F9 to manually select the hard drive and blank screen with cursor.

If I go to reinstall Mint with the live USB without changing partitions, the installer actually detects the previous installation and offers to replace it.
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post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
SUCCESS! I'm not sure precisely what finally got it working, but I'll post what I've done since my previous post in case anyone happens to have the same issue down the road:

First change was to download a different version of Mint. I was trying to use Mint 15 x64 with Cinnamon previously, and I switched over to 16 x64 with MATE.
Second thing I changed was my EFI boot order. I'm running the laptop in Legacy mode, so I don't *think* this should have affected it, but I did it as a sanity test.
After that I installed Mint with the stock option (Replace old Mint install with new Mint install instead of manually partitioning with "Do something else".

After restart, I used my F9 menu to make sure it tried to boot from the hard drive and it worked.
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