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Windows 7 is overwriting Grub and it's driving me nuts

asked 2014-09-14 13:38:42 -0500

audifanatic gravatar image

updated 2014-09-16 10:40:59 -0500

mether gravatar image

All right, I've been struggling with this for several days now and I have not yet had any luck. I recently bought a new desktop and it unfortunately came with Windows 8. So I booted up the recovery disk and opened up a command line to run diskpart and clean to ensure all hidden partitions and whatnot were deleted. Then I installed a clean copy of Windows 7 on the drive (ensuring that secure boot was disabled and legacy mode was enabled in my BIOS). Once Windows was installed, I allocated space in the partition manager and proceeded to install Fedora to it from a Live USB. That went fine. Here's where things get awry. Upon rebooting, Grub lists Fedora, the Fedora recovery, and "Windows Boot Manager," which is unusual. When I dualboot on my ThinkPad, Windows 7 listed rather than the Windows Boot Manager.

Nonetheless, I can boot into Fedora just fine from Grub. However, when I select this "Windows Boot Manager" option, it'll boot into Windows 7 (as you would expect). Then when I perform a complete shutdown and then reboot, it does directly to Windows and skips Grub entirely.

I cannot figure out what's going on here, I've never had this problem before when installing Fedora on custom-built PC's or laptops which come with Windows 7. UEFI + Windows 8 makes things so difficult even when they're uninstalled and disabled. I'd really appreciate some help with this issue.


It seems that this problem isn't unique to Fedora. But the ironic thing is that this is a clean install of Windows 7, There's literally nothing on it other than Firefox and a couple drivers for WiFi, Bluetooth, and the front USB controller.

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Use the UEFI boot menu to choose Fedora. After Fedora is booted, you can use efibootmgr to change the boot order - or you can do it in the firmware setup menu. From what you described, I think the only thing that changed is the boot order.

randomuser gravatar imagerandomuser ( 2014-09-15 00:47:47 -0500 )edit

hmm, well Windows was listed last in the list, so I'm not too sure of that. See my post at fedora forum for a look at my gdisk and efibootmanager outputs:

audifanatic gravatar imageaudifanatic ( 2014-09-15 09:47:56 -0500 )edit

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answered 2014-09-15 10:44:41 -0500

audifanatic gravatar image

All right, I finally solve dmy problem. It was a real pain and required me to jump through a ton of hoops, but I finally got it. Here's a step by step runthrough of what I did.

  1. Make a set of recovery disks for your Windows 8 system; you probably won't use them, but you never know. Note that this is different than a Windows repair disk and a system image. The recovery disk resets everything back to default OEM settings even if your HDD fails. The repair disk is generally used to resolve probems in your current installation; however, if used in combination with a system image it can provide similar functionality to a recovery disk. So if your computer manufacturer provided a way to make a recovery disk set, then use it; if you have a recovery partition then you likely have a tool to make a disk set. Otherwise, make a system image and repair disk.
  2. Once this is done, it's time to get rid of that sorry excuse for an OS and get some real productivity out of your machine. If you haven't yet done so, get a copy of Windows 7. If you downloaded an ISO file like me, you're going to have to burn it to a DVD or USB drive first. I had issues writing it to a USB drive (Microsoft's tool is very buggy) so I burned it to a DVD instead with freeisoburner.
  3. Find Windows 7 drivers for your machine, download them and store them somewhere safe. In some cases the Windows 8 ones will be fine, but in others they will not (I ended up using a Lenovo ThinkPad driver for my Bluetooth). If you run the ISO from within Windows, there is a tool in there that tells you which devices may give you trouble later on.

  4. Before you leave Windows 8 forever, make sure your BIOS is up to date. Download and install the latest BIOS from your manufacturer to prevent possible problems later on.

  5. Once you've got this done, you're gonna want to restart and boot into your BIOS (F10 at startup for most HP PCs). If you're not using an HP computer, the settings may differ slightly, but here's what I changed in my BIOS. I went in and I disabled secure boot, enabled legacy mode disabled fast boot and enabled virtualization (not sure if the last one is required, but it seemed to get rid of an error the Win7 installation was giving me about MBR and GTP later on).
  6. Now you're gonna want to boot into your Windows 7 installation and begin the install. Pop in your DVD or USB drive and boot into it (F9 at startup brings up the boot menu for HP). Note: try both the UEFI and legacy options in the boot menu; I noticed that my DVD was listed under both, but only one of them worked.
  7. Once ...

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This seems like 90% unessecary steps. Windows didn't overwrite grub. You just booted windows instead of grub.

randomuser gravatar imagerandomuser ( 2014-09-15 11:30:31 -0500 )edit

right, but the issue is that once I booted Windows I couldn't boot grub again

audifanatic gravatar imageaudifanatic ( 2014-09-15 13:39:21 -0500 )edit

Did you find the system boot menu that let you choose? Or try changing the boot order in the firmware setup? I don't see that in any of your steps.

randomuser gravatar imagerandomuser ( 2014-09-16 00:41:12 -0500 )edit

In the BIOS boot manager? yes, I did see Fedora listed, but when I selected it, it couldn't find the OS.

audifanatic gravatar imageaudifanatic ( 2014-09-16 17:14:02 -0500 )edit

answered 2014-09-14 17:01:08 -0500

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WIndows 8 PC/Laptops are somehow hooked up at their hardware. If you have windows 8 on a PC that license I am not 100% sure cannot be used on other pc' s. Windows 8 is fast because they use partially assembly language codes only found from certain processor types and above. Windows 8 is not installable on older PC' s. It is impossible as far as I know. Maybe virtual? Somehow this is the cause. I am afraid I have no solution but I will be replacing and buying an older machine and will be running dual boot too. There is another option though and I think quite elegant. Just install a solid Fedora. Make a virtual machine and run windows 7 from there. Why Widows ;)? I got windows XP virtual running fine. I need faster hardware (running a 6 yr old PC) but it is ok. I would recommend VMware but Sun Virtual PC is ok too. I hope this is a solution. I stopped dualboot. Cause I found it irritating switching all the time and you can run all other OS's as well. BeOS, Ubuntu, Mint, RedHat etc. GoodLuck

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I'm not trying to install Windows 8 on an older machine; I'm trying to do the opposite; remove it and dualboot with Win 7 and Fedora.

audifanatic gravatar imageaudifanatic ( 2014-09-14 18:27:09 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2014-09-14 13:38:42 -0500

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Last updated: Sep 15 '14