Laptop Dual Boot Project

Posted by Scott_Ruecker on Nov 30, 2020 1:03 PM
LXer Linux News; By Scott Ruecker

LXer Feature: 30-Nov-2020

I got a new laptop and I want to use a jump-drive to run different versions of Linux on it. These are my adventures..

I got a new laptop..

Its cool, it is a 15” ASUS VivoBook, with an Intel core i3 10th gen running Windows 10 on it. It has a 120gig HD with 80 of them still free to use. All I have done to it is install Chrome and LibreOffice 7.0. That’s it. So far everything I do on my laptop I do on the internet so I only use Chrome while being connected to the internet. I’ve had my new laptop for a couple of months now and being the lover of Linux and all things FOSS I really want to use Linux instead of Windows but I need to keep Windows around in case I need it for something I just absolutely can’t do without it. I also need to keep Windows so that in case I need to I can take advantage of the 2 year warranty that came with the laptop.

So, the answer? I want to install Linux onto a USB drive and boot into Linux from there. That way the laptop stays in “stock” condition. I have two jump-drives, a 16gig and an 8gig that I can use to install different versions of Linux onto and see if they work with my laptop’s hardware. I have loved Linux and all things FOSS for the last 15 years or so and I have learned a lot but I make no claims on being an expert. That distinction is for others who know far more than I. One of those people is my good friend Donald Carter. We have known each other for..what is it? 10, 15 years now, I’ve lost count. He is an expert. I’m not.

I’m just dangerous enough to want to mess with the hardware I own and software I use. He has been supporting computer hardware and software in one form or another for a long time. I asked Don for his help and he said yes. Thank the Gods! So here we go..

I did a Google search how to install Linux to a USB drive and found a article on the Instructables website with a link to a program called Universal-USB-Installer v1.9.9.7 which I downloaded and used to install an .iso of LinuxMint onto my 16gig jump-drive. Everything went fine and it installed to my 16gig. I didn’t mess with any of the settings at all. I then restarted my laptop while pressing F12 over and over to get it to go into the boot menu before loading Windows. I learned that you have to be pressing F12 at just the right moment to get into the Windows boot menu, apparently Windows is finicky because it took me several tries to get it too.

Once I got into the boot menu I selected the USB drive option and it booted into Mint without issue. It did take a while to load (20+ seconds or so) which compared to Windows (5 or 6 seconds) was a lot longer but after that the desktop loaded just fine. Everything seems to work and it recognized my network adapter too. The biggest issues I saw was that any changes I made to the OS (Desktop changes, software installations etc.) aren't saved and when I log out of Mint, log into Windows and back into Mint again are lost and it goes back to the default install again. That and the keyboard back-light doesn't work. Also, I noticed was that it did not see all of the storage on the 16gig jump-drive.

Man, I'm tellin' ya..its not a MAJOR jump, but there is to my eye a noticeable difference in the speed of things running in Mint over Windows. Even in Chrome using the same network connection I would in Windows, it feels like it is faster. It loads pages and videos faster than in windows. Programs open faster, it’s amazing. All off of a USB drive! When I close my laptop lid (while still using Mint) which in Windows usually shuts the computer down. And to my pleasure when opening the lid this time it took me to my Mint desktop. I love it!

One cool thing I have noticed during all this is that changes I make inside the browser (moving/changing/adding bookmarks, changing extension settings etc.) are saved and I see them when I log into Windows and open Chrome there. But I know that is all in my Google account which has nothing to do with whether I am logged into Linux or Windows.

Well in the course of writing this article I started to get a "Invalid signature detected. Check secure boot policy in setup" error. I asked Don and he said it must be a setting in the BIOS and I did some searching on the Internet and sure enough I found out that I needed to disable the secure boot up. So I restarted my computer and did this:

Pressed F2 to the BIOS menu.

From the main tab, use the right arrow key (?) to navigate to the Security tab, Authentication tab, or Boot tab. You’ll find the Secure Boot menu under one of them (depending on your BIOS/UEFI setup utility).

Use the down arrow key to select the option and then press Enter.

Select Secure Boot Control.

Choose Disabled.

I did all of that and bang! The error was gone the next time I booted into my jump-drive. Yay! One issue down, but the story isn’t over yet.

I noticed when looking at my jump-drive in the filesystem that it only showed 5gigs of the 16gigs on the drive and wondered why. Talking with Don we figured out that one of the settings I didn’t mess with when installing Mint was the Persistent Partition Size which I left at zero. This Explains why any programs I installed or changes I made to the system were not being saved.

The Persistent Partition Size is the amount of space allocated for changes made to the system to be able to save. It should enable me to download things, install programs and have them saved to the USB drive and see them across devices I plug it into.

I decided to re-install Mint onto the jump-drive and change the Persistent Partition Size from zero to the maximum amount allowed (12gigs) and see what happens. Well, I did that and on the next reboot into Mint got a ‘loop0’ error. Again I asked Don and he said I should do some googling to find the answer and I did. I found that to fix it I had to do all kinds of scripting on the command line.

I’ll be honest, in all the time I have been using Linux I have gotten into the command line only a few times. I know from reading and talking to others that unless you know what you are doing you really shouldn’t mess with the command line at all. A naive user can seriously mess things up if you do things wrong in there and I am not that confident in my skills to go into the command line without someone very knowledgeable standing over my shoulder to guide me.

My friend Don lives in Oregon and I live in Arizona so he can only help me so much from a distance and I decided that I was not going to get into the command line and walk around unless I absolutely had too. Don said that it might have something to do with the program I was using to install Linux onto my jump-drive.

At the beginning of all this Don had recommended that I use Rufus to install my Linux iso’s but I didn’t take his advice (which I should have) so I downloaded Rufus and used it to check the drive for errors and re-install Mint onto my 16gig jump-drive. I set the Persistent Partition Size to the maximum amount allowed (12gigs again) and installed Mint onto the jump-drive. After installing I booted into it and shazam! No loop0 error, Yay! Another issue taken care of.

I have now installed the Google Chrome browser, changed my desktop background and adjusted the time and date settings so they are correct, that’s all. Since Mint already comes with LibreOffice I do not have to install it. Now I’m going to boot into Windows and back into Mint and see of the changes I stick..

Yes! I booted into and out of Windows and back into Mint on my jump-drive and all the changes I made stuck. I love it! The only glaring issue left that I can see (no pun intended) is the back-light on my keyboard not working. But I am not going to worry about that right now. Well, now that I am satisfied with my Mint install its on to other distributions to test. In Part 2 I am going to start testing out other distros and see what happens, wish me luck!

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