So in preparation for the longer periods i’ll be spending away from home during the summer (and also a “long-time investment”), i bought an ASUS X201E notebook. It’s not a powerhorse, but it’s cheap and good enough for what i need it for (translating and checking email). It arrived the other day, and i had some fun setting it up.

First of all, it comes with Windows 8 in the box, so of course my first thing to do was to get an Ubuntu (newest, 13.10) installer on a USB stick and at least make it dual-boot. If only it was that easy. First of all, the 32 bit installer i had at hand wouldn’t even boot (not even to Grub), and there were no errors displayed either, so it took a while to figure out that EFI is required and only the 64 bit installer has that. However, even once i got Grub to start up, i couldn’t get it to move any further on. No matter what i tried with the boot options, nothing helped. All i got was an empty black screen with nothing whatsoever. The options suggested in the help (nomodeset, nolapic, acpi=off, changing video modes etc) did no good.

Then i got fed up and just tuned Win 8 to my tastes as much as possible (sadly that’s pretty much restricted to changing the desktop wallpaper and unpinning built-in apps from the Start screen). But yet i wanted my linux freedom, so i kept experimenting.

I tried a Fedora install too, but that wouldn’t go past Grub either. In the end when Grub started, i just brought up the console (c) to see what can i do (thinking maybe the built-in boot options were wrong or something). After getting a list of commands with tab, i just tried the simplest one i could expect some meaningful output from: ls. And guess what! I got an error saying that i can’t do what i tried because of the Safe Boot limitations.

I remembered reading about disabling that if all fell through, but a) i thought i already did that b) Grub started up, and i thought that counted as booting the drive already. Apparently no.

Going into the BIOS i disabled Safe Boot, and tried once again. The Ubuntu installer started up with the default boot options. However, as soon as the GUI loaded, i was faced with a suspiciously dark (not just black but backlit) screen, which reminded me how for some people the installer reset the brightness to zero. That was the case, using fn+f6 to turn it back on helped (during the installation process and a few times later too it kept turning it back down, but turning it back on always helped – also this “feature” can be disabled in the energy settings).

During the install i repartitioned the drive too. There was the EFI boot partition, a CD-sized NTFS drive (i guess the Windows installer), a small FAT drive that i erased without mercy, the Windows system drive (which i resized down to 35 gigs) and the 150 gigs NTFS partition (labelled “Data”). I erased this last, added a swap partition, two ext4s for Ubuntu system and /home/, and left the rest empty, because for some reason the partitioner in the Ubuntu installer wouldn’t let me format NTFS. It also messed up the Windows system drive while resizing, but luckily the Windows system repair fixed that without any data loss (though it took two crashes on boot to get the repair to start at all).

Now everything works fine. Except for the Korean fonts bug in Chromium that i still couldn’t get rid of, and AdBlock (also in Chromium) keeps crashing too. Also, in Windows, uploading a picture to Twitter from Chrome pretty much freezes the system solid for minutes (though the upload itself completes immediately as it should).