How Do I Install Ubuntu on a New Windows 8 Computer?

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installing ubuntu on windows 8The introduction of personal computers with Windows 8 preinstalled with them also introduced a controversial under-the-hood modification – Secure Boot. Secure Boot is a technology which is included in any new computer that has Windows 8 preinstalled and the official sticker. It is meant to check that you have a certified operating system installed on your computer before it tries to boot it. This prevents the system from running any “non-certified” (or non-trusted) operating systems, lowering the risk that malicious code runs at boot time.

The idea itself is reasonable, but it completely ignores the fact that personal computers are able to run more than just Windows – there’s Linux, BSD variants, and plenty more. Ever since the specification came into effect, Linux developers have been working hard to support it so that people can continue installing their favorite Linux distributions.

installing ubuntu on windows 8

Since manufacturers tend to stick with Microsoft’s specifications, you won’t find a lot of computers that don’t have Secure Boot. If you happen to have a computer which doesn’t include Secure Boot, then you’ll have it a lot easier by following the regular installation procedure. However, if you’re stuck with it, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Try It Normally

Since Ubuntu 12.10 and the release of 12.04.2, the distribution has added support for Secure Boot. While this support is supposed to work for most systems, it may not always be the case. The best way to find out is to try to boot the installation media and install Ubuntu onto your hard drive. Be sure, however, that you’re using the 64-bit media, as it is the only one which works with UEFI Secure Boot (this rule applies to any operating system, not just Ubuntu or Linux as a whole).

If you can’t boot the installation media or you can’t boot into your new installation, then something has gone wrong. As Secure Boot is a brand new technology, experiences can vary for everyone, with failures remaining largely unexplainable.

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Disable Secure Boot

install ubunty windows 8

If attempting a regular installation with Secure Boot enabled worked out for you, great! If not, you may need to try something else. The specification by Microsoft states that, in order to be Windows 8 certified, it needs to allow the user to disable the technology. Therefore, you should be able to boot into your system’s BIOS and find the setting for Secure Boot and disable it. Any Windows partitions that you keep on the system will still run normally, but it just theoretically reduces the security of your system by a bit.

Turning off this feature should allow Ubuntu to be installed and run without any issues. Just remember to boot off your installation media in UEFI mode instead of BIOS mode in order to remain uniform, as Windows 8 will already be installed on your system in UEFI mode.

Re-Enable Secure Boot If Desired

From here, you’ll have two options – either keep Secure Boot off and work on your system with the slight increase in security risk, or attempt to turn Secure Boot back on. You’re more than welcome to try turning it on if you choose to do so, as you can always turn it back off if Ubuntu fails to load.

Fixing Your Booting Options

installing ubuntu on windows 8

If you still have Windows alongside Ubuntu, you will most likely need to update your boot configuration so that it can correctly identify Windows, especially in a Secure Boot environment. You can easily fix any issues with the Boot-Repair utility.

You’ll first need to add the PPA (personal repository) as well as install it before using it. You can do all of this, as well as launch the utility, by running the command :

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair and then run boot-repair to launch it.

From here, you can click on “Recommended repair”, or go into the Advanced options and make sure that the Secure Boot option is enabled (only if you chose to re-enable it again). Hopefully, after another restart, you should be good to go!

Conclusion

Sadly, Secure Boot support isn’t perfect, so you’ll need to have some luck to see if you can get it to work correctly with the technology enabled. Otherwise, you’ll have to make some sacrifices and disable Secure Boot, but I don’t find this to be too difficult of a decision as I’ve been just fine without the benefits of the technology. There’s always the question of whether the complications created by a security measure are really worth it for your own personal use.

Have you successfully installed Ubuntu with Secure Boot enabled? Do you own a system on which you’d like to try installing Ubuntu on? Let us know in the comments!

Also check out our “Ubuntu: A Beginner’s Guide“.

Image Credits: Uwe Hermann, Award Software International Inc.

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