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Fedora 20: Is it safe to Install to Disk on a Win7 laptop with UEFI?

asked 2014-06-11 06:04:43 -0500

curiouscat gravatar image

updated 2014-06-11 13:57:22 -0500

mether gravatar image

I gave up on trying to run Fedora off a USB stick (since both Live & full install suck for long term use) and decided to install to my Laptop's HDD.

I've had dual boot laptops in the past but all this new UEFI business scares me. I see many articles of how people accidentally end up with unbootable systems.

What are general tips / precautions? I've already shrunk my native Win7 partition so that I have ~50 Gigs of unallocated space that I intend to use for Fedora 20. Normally I run the Laptop's BIOS in Legacy mode with Secure Boot Disabled.

Will the LiveUSB's (install to disk) module take care of the intricacies? Or do I have to step in and do somethings differently? The laptop already has a Dell partition for some diagnostic tools, a Windows Recovery partition and a large native Win7 partition.

Any advice is very much appreciated! How big is the risk that Fedora's auto installer screws things up?

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The only piece of advice I have is: Please please backup your hard drive. When installing an OS, you are always 2 click away from a full wipe.

hmaarrfk gravatar imagehmaarrfk ( 2014-07-15 18:20:57 -0500 )edit

4 Answers

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answered 2014-07-16 02:19:58 -0500

abadrinath gravatar image

updated 2014-07-26 01:24:31 -0500

Before installing, I suggest you check these things.

Step 1. Turn on UEFI (fully optional)

Fedora includes complete support for UEFI, and this is not just on paper, but I am actually using Fedora on a UEFI system. Sure, I could've turned on Legacy, but that emulates Legacy, and besides, it's not default. Why change something when it's not needed. Of course, you can leave on Legacy, but it would be easier for Windows 7 and Fedora 20.

  1. Go to the BIOS settings. Head over to Boot.
  2. Turn on UEFI and disable Legacy Boot.

Step 2. Keep Secure Boot disabled (fully optional)

Fedora also has support for Secure Boot, but I strongly am against it. For example, wireless can sometimes not be used with Secure Boot enabled, and there is a strange error at boot (just a warning, but, still). You can enable secure boot, like other people have, but I suggest against it.

  1. Go to the BIOS settings. Head over to Boot or Security (depends).
  2. Turn off Secure Boot.

Step 3.Install using an iso-image from a USB, DVD, netinstall, CD, or Unetbootin

Fedora has 4 methods for installation, and in my opinion, the DVD iso is the easiest to work with. Use a Windows native DVD burner, and burn it to the disk.

Using a USB =)
  1. Download the live image of Fedora 20 (or Fedora 19, if you're reluctant) which is about 900 MB in size. This is the second smallest size of Fedora to download in one go. There are two options in a Live CD: Installing and trying out. In the trying out, you can try Fedora without installing it on HDD. It runs off the USB, and data will not be saved.

  2. Download 'Fedora LiveUSB Creator' from . In my humble opinion, this is the best creator and never fails. When I tried to create a USB, none of the options worked: dd, Unetbootin, etc. So, I recommend this one, but you can use any of them, but use them at your own risk.

  3. Run 'Fedora LiveUSB Creator', and choose the iso from the Open or a similar option. Beware, all data on the USB will probably be deleted if you do not specify Persistent Space. Once you lose the data, you cannot get it back unless you have a backup. :(

  4. Boot off the USB stick by changing the boot order in the BIOS. This is the trickiest part of the process, and the most time to do. Once you've opened the BIOS boot menu (or Settings if you can't access the boot menu), you can choose the USB. If you don't have access to the Boot menu, change the boot order in the Settings. Then, save the settings and reboot.

  5. Pray it works and it boots ;). Once it's booted and ready to go, choose an option, it's your choice. Choose the Install or the Try option. Honestly, try the Try option and give it ...

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Why the 40_custom for windows? Doesn't grub2-mkconfig find it?

randomuser gravatar imagerandomuser ( 2014-07-16 10:06:58 -0500 )edit

@randomuser - No, not if you have 2 /boot/efi partitions (my case).

abadrinath gravatar imageabadrinath ( 2014-07-17 01:00:21 -0500 )edit

IMO, this is the best answer because it's so detailed. Nice job, @hello!

trol1ed gravatar imagetrol1ed ( 2014-07-18 22:32:37 -0500 )edit

Can someone fix the formatting please?@randomuser? I can't seem to change it :(.

abadrinath gravatar imageabadrinath ( 2014-07-26 01:26:12 -0500 )edit

Can you be a little more specific how you would do partitioning? I am failing at this every time, I have only had experience with standard MBR boot install to this point. The partitions I normally add are root, /home (encrypted), and swap. But I get the error "you have not created a bootloader stage1 target device". Should I use some semi automatic setup instead and let the installer select the /boot/efi and partitions itself?

kjetilbmoe gravatar imagekjetilbmoe ( 2014-08-14 04:29:52 -0500 )edit

answered 2014-06-21 08:07:44 -0500

NickTux gravatar image

Don't take it personally, but Fedora's auto installer usually doesn't screw up anything, people do. :-)

As you took care of the usual blockers (Secure boot for instance), I don't see something that will cause problem with the installation. Because you have already created the space, that Fedora will be installed in, I would recommend to format this space on a Linux filesystem (ext4) , because there are chances the unallocated space won't be listed in Fedora Installer.

Fedora by default will try to create LVM, if you don't want this, you have to configure it your self. Be aware that both Operating Systems (Windows and Fedora or anything else) should be installed in same mode. If you have installed Windows 7 in BIOS Legacy mode, then you must install Fedora in BIOS Legacy too.

The Grub bootloader(which is also a boot manager) will replace Windows bootloader and will take care of the Operating Systems you have, in order to list them correctly and boot on each of them correctly.

If you have Secure Boot and UEFI mode enabled, you should definitely read this guide first, that explains a lot of things.

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+1 for Don't take it personally, but Fedora's auto installer usually doesn't screw up anything, people do. :-)

abadrinath gravatar imageabadrinath ( 2014-07-16 02:50:22 -0500 )edit

Two points:

  1. I would suggest NOT to partition and format the unallocated space. The best option for Fedora installation is leaving the space as unallocated. As soon as you create a partition in the unallocated space, Fedora would not consider it as "Free" regardless of the file system format. So, if you create partition(s) in the unallocated space, Fedora installer would complain about 'no free space available', and you are forced to either manually setup partitioning, or remove the partition in 'reclaim space' window!
hedayat gravatar imagehedayat ( 2014-07-16 05:00:22 -0500 )edit
  1. Anaconda (Fedora installer) have 3 automatic partitioning modes: LVM, Standard Partitions, and BTRFS. Therefore, it is enough to select "Standard Partitions" in the first window which appears after selecting desired hard disks (selected by default) and presing "Done", and let Anaconda create partitions in the "Unallocated" space.

Therefore, I thing this is the "Safest" option: let the space remain unallocated, and let Anaconda (Fedora installer) create partitions for you automatically (select "Standard partitions if you don't want LVM)). Don't select "reclaim space" and you are safe!:D

hedayat gravatar imagehedayat ( 2014-07-16 05:06:50 -0500 )edit

answered 2014-07-15 17:08:13 -0500

sinthia gravatar image

updated 2014-07-18 20:39:25 -0500

Why not leave Secure Boot on? It provides a cryptographic signature check at boot time to ensure that the kernel has not been changed without your knowledge. The Fedora and Ubuntu shims provide the results of their own checks to the (unfortunately unless you are a Microsoft Shareholder or stakeholder) Microsoft specific, for now, bios read only routines. In Windows you take full advantage of the benefits of hardware support for kernel signing.

The most interesting change here, from my POV is that some things that were previously in BIOS have been moved into the bootstrapper. People mistakenly believe that these settings have been removed from userland, when in fact theyhave been moved up a layer. They now reside in the boot loader and this can be exposed to the superuser in a much wider variety of ways than bios settings ever did.

As far as problems, you must have a partition of at least 200mb as /boot/efi. If you want to be safe you should not reformat that partition. You must let Windows create it by installing Windows first. Then in the Linux installer's partition tool you mount it.

If you are not interested in my opinion, ignore this: I think we should push the hardware vendors to develop a single fair reasonable standard for signing. They must also diversify the official source of keys beyond Microsoft. This should be done as openly and fairly as we can convince them to be.

I chose to turn on these features in hopes of protecting myself from a class of noxious infections on my systems and a desire to have a modern system. I tested Kubuntu and Fedora Scientific KDE in tandem with Windows 8.1 on a HP touchsmart. They both are OK with or without uefi/secureboot/legacy, but I chose UEFI/secureboot Fedora and the KDE-Ghosts theme in order to have better compatibility with centos6 (my webserver). Eye-popping! I am writing this from forementioned system.

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Fedora does take full advantage of Secure Boot. The only thing related to Microsoft is that Fedora's shim is signed by Microsoft. It's NOT that UEFI routings are Microsoft specific as you said. And, some mainboards allow replacing Microsoft signing keys with others, but yes, it is unfortunate that Fedora/Ubuntu/etc should let Microsoft sign their shims so that it'll work seamlessly everywhere.

hedayat gravatar imagehedayat ( 2014-07-16 04:54:12 -0500 )edit

Those options are greyed out in my bios. If I misunderstood what I read, I apologize and appreciate the clarification, I am new to UEFI still. I still stand by my basic point, however that people are jumping to the conclusion that UEFI is the root of avery problem on install and there is a rumor circulating that you must disable it in order to run Linux.

sinthia gravatar imagesinthia ( 2014-07-18 20:33:01 -0500 )edit

answered 2014-06-21 00:23:55 -0500

You will need to disable the Secure Boot load -- dual boot (even with dual booting between windows 7 and windows 8) is not working without disabling the security feature -- which you can do from the administrator interface in windows.

There are several articles on the web -- including from Microsoft on how to do this.

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Asked: 2014-06-11 06:04:43 -0500

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Last updated: Jul 26 '14