Dual boot on a SDD

Oct 30, 2015

Some steps to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 8.1 on a MSI GE72 2QE laptop with a HDD + SDD setup.

My old LG laptop was unusable for my work. Random shutdowns and overheating was some of the problems.

As I work with Machine Learning, I needed a computer with a powerful GPU, so I bought a gamer laptop: a MSI GE72-2QE Apache.

It came with Windows 8.1, which I wanted to keep for some image editing softwares and gaming. However, I use Linux for programming, so my task was clear:

I needed Dual Boot with Ubuntu + Windows 8.1.

Then my nightmare started.

After lots of hours lost and many problems, I achieved my goal. I’ll not tell much more about what I did wrong but I’ll keep a record of what did work. I’m not sure about everything here being necessary, but after I succeeded I didn’t retry to find the minimal amount of steps. Maybe in the next time.

Creating a bootable USB device

YUMI didn’t work for me, nor did any other Windows software, so I had to find another way.

The solution was to use USB image writer, available in Linux Mint by default. It happens that a friend uses Mint, so I created the bootable pendrive with his help.

Windows 8.1 setup

Here I just disabled fast startup.

To do so, we need to access the power options: just click the battery icon on the tray and select “Choose what the power button do” on the left. On the new screen we have the option to disable fast startup under “Shutdown settings”.

BIOS setup

To access the BIOS, we can press the DELETE key on startup, but we need to do this quickly, before giving it time to enter Windows.

An alternative is to hold SHIFT before clicking the restart option on Windows. It’ll open a screen with some options and we need to select “Troubleshoot > Advanced options > UEFI Firmware settings”.

Once in the BIOS screen, we need to set the following:

  • Secure Boot: Disable
  • Fast Boot: Disable
  • Boot mode select: LEGACY
  • Change boot order: select your USB drive

Installing Ubuntu

With the bootable pendrive inserted, restart the computer and keep pressing F10. Then select your USB device on the list that will show up.

Choose your installation options as usual and do a manual installation. This is important, as otherwise you can just erase your Windows installation.

When selecting the partitions, I choose to boot Ubuntu from the SSD, but as it’s a relatively small unit with only 128 GB, I decided to put only the /root and the /boot partition on it. On the HDD I put /home and /var/lib/docker, as I use Docker and it can consume a lot of storage for containers and images.

Putting everything together, this was my setup:

  • /root: 25 GB in SSD.
  • /boot: 256 MB in SSD.
  • /home: 92 GB in HDD.
  • /var/lib/docker: 46 GB in HDD

Fixing GRUB

After installing Ubuntu, I couldn’t access Windows anymore, as the boot loader got messed up. I used the great Boot-Repair tool to fix it. If you can’t access your Ubuntu installation, just use the live option in the installation pendrive.

Open a terminal and run:

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

After rebooting you should be able to choose your OS from GRUB’s list.

Fixing SteelSeries Engine keyboard

The last problem I had was that the keyboard customization stopped working after all this process. The solution for this was to update the BIOS and to reinstall the keyboard driver.

I downloaded it the BIOS software from here.

To reinstall the driver I just uninstalled the old one under device manager and rebooted the machine to let it auto-install the driver.

Written by Allan Costa

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