15 July 2013

Asus Zenbook and Ubuntu

I recently bought a shiny new Asus Zenbook, which which I'm delighted. However it came with Windows 8 and try as I might the sales guy wouldn't offer me anything else. I've recently blogged about my intense hatred for all things Windows 8 related. So I've decided to put Ubuntu on it, for now I'm dual booting. With past experience Ubuntu is so awesome, plus quick and easy to install I might decide to go back and clobber Windows 8 altogether.

The following are a few hints and tips I picked up if you try something similar. The bulk of the problem arises around the new version of BIOS called UEFI. This feels like an Intel thing that's been designed specifically for Windows and the rest of the world now has to catchup. Anyhow, I digress.

The first thing I did was backup Windows 8. Just in case I needed to roll back. Then of course create a Ubuntu USB Install Key.

  1. Create a system image on a external hard drive or DVDs
  2. Create a Bootable USB Reovery Key

  3. Create a Bootable Ubuntu Install Key

Thanks to Greg Shultz for those great articles.

That's the easy bit. In the good old days of BIOS that was basically it. You could insert your USB Ubuntu key and reboot, possibly tweaking BIOS boot order slightly. Sadly this is where UEFI makes things very difficult.

First I had to hold delete to get into UEFI which can easily be missed as the setup window gets smaller all the time. Then you need to disable fast boot and secure boot.Now plug in your Ubuntu USB key and save and restart. As soon as you're out of UEFI hold down the escape key. This brings up the boot options. Hopefully your USB key will be listed there. If not select "Enter Setup" and try again. Sometimes this takes a few goes.

Once you've got the USB Key to boot, you can install Ubuntu as a dual boot or "Full Windows annihilation" mode. This is all pretty self explanatory.

When you finish you'll be asked to reboot. When I did this I went straight back into Windows. Lame.

To combat this I went back into UEFI, didn't change anything, but did a save and exit (F10). Then again held the scape key and selected my USB key from the boot menu. Instead of install, this time select trial, or run from usb key. This gets you running a version of Ubuntu without installing anything. From there follow these instructions:

This will re-install the boot loader that windows 8 has interfered with. As I mentioned I did a dual boot, so it re-installed GRUB and allowed me to select my desired OS on boot.

That should be it. Remove your USB key and you should be running Ubuntu.

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