Miles Nielsen's Dossier: Minting Linux Onto My Asus Ultrabook

Minting Linux Onto My Asus Ultrabook

Posted by admin on November 6, 2013

Recently, I purchased an ASUS Ultrabook, Model UX51VZ-DH71, with the intention of installing Linux onto it. A little pre-purchase research suggested this was possible, so I was feeling confident when I received my package from FedEx.

However, troublesome fun ensued. Research and experimentation yielded in the following walk-through of how to put Linux Mint 13 onto an Asus UX51VZ-DH71.

I hope those of you in similar situations find this useful. I'm open to suggestions and improvements.

Here we go...


Preconditions

  1. You have an ASUS Ultrabook. I used an ASUS UX51VZ-DH71 throughout this example, so these instructions tend toward that model.
  2. You have a computer with an Ethernet-based Internet connection and at least one USB port.
  3. You want to install Linux onto your Asus Ultrabook as your only OS – not Linux dual-booting with Windows, but Linux as the sole OS on the Laptop.
  4. You have an empty USB drive of at least 5GB in size.


Obtain Your Linux OS

First, you must download the image [.iso] file for the correct version of your favorite Linux OS distribution.

My current favorite Linux distribution is called “Linux Mint”, so that is the distribution I chose for myself and for this procedure.

By “correct version” of Linux distribution, I mean two things:

  1. My ASUS UX51VZ-DH71 is 64-bit, so I made note to download the 64-bit image file.
  2. A current release. Some users want the latest version of their OS at all times. My personal preference tends toward the “Long Term Support” [LTS] versions. For Linux Mint, the latest LTS version at the time of this writing is Linux Mint 13 “Maya”.

Note: Linux Mint offers their particular Linux distribution with several desktop user interfaces, or “desktop environments”. These include KDE, Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. I enjoy the MATE desktop environment, with codecs installed, so I went with downloading that particular image file.

Section Summary: I downloaded the image [.iso] file for Linux Mint 13 “Maya”, MATE desktop environment, with codecs, compatible to the 64-bit computer architecture.


Putting OS Onto USB Drive

Since ASUS Ultrabooks typically don’t have optical drives, you have to “burn” your image file onto a USB drive. There are several software tools to do this, and I chose the tool UNetbootin.

If you don’t have UNetbootin readily available, download and install it onto the computer housing your Linux OS’s image file. Once you have UNetbootin running, plug in your USB drive and follow the UNetbootin GUI options under “Diskimage”: select your image file as the source and your USB drive as the “destination”. Click “ok” to “burn” your Linux image file onto your USB drive.

Once UNetbootin has finished its process, you may close the program and safely remove your USB drive from your computer.

Now, we must prepare to put the Linux OS onto the laptop. To do so, we must perform//verify the following:

  1. The laptop is turned off
  2. The laptop is plugged into wall-power
  3. The laptop has Internet access via an Ethernet cable
  4. Your Linux-enriched USB drive is plugged into one of the laptop's USB ports

Section Summary: I installed Unetbootin onto my separate computer and used it to burn my Linux Mint 13 image file onto my USB drive. I plugged the USB drive into my powered-down laptop.


Changing Laptop BIOS Settings

You must enter your laptop's BIOS. For the ASUS UX51VZ-DH71 Ultrabook, this is achieved by pressing F2 just after pressing the power-on button. Press the power-on button, then F2, to continue. Leave the USB plugged into the laptop.

Navigate to Advanced → SATA Configuration area. Set “SATA Mode Selection” to “AHCI” (not to “IDE” or “RAID”).

Now, navigate to the BIOS Boot page, where your laptop's boot options are available. Change your laptop's boot order to the following:

  1. Legacy USB [not "EFI" or "UEFI USB"]
  2. Hard Drive Disabled

Save and exit these settings; for Asus Laptops, this is achieved by pressing F10. Leave the USB plugged into the laptop.

The laptop will now reboot from the USB drive.

Section Summary: I altered my BIOS settings for SATA Mode Selection and device Boot order. I saved the BIOS settings and rebooted, leaving the USB drive connected to the laptop.

 

Preparing The Laptop Hard Drive(s) For Linux

At this point, the Asus UX51VZ-DH71 should boot from the USB drive into a live session of Linux Mint 13 “Maya”.

Brief Background: The Asus UX51VZ-DH71 has two 128GB Solid State Drives [SSDs] set up in a RAID-0 array. In my limited experience and research in this matter, Linux doesn't like RAID-0 arrays. The following steps will remove the RAID-0 array and divorce the two SSDs into the separate SSDs they are.

You must first verify that the disk-partitioning program “gparted” is available to you. gparted is already available in the live version of Linux Mint 13, but if you are using a different Linux distribution or version you may have to install it first. Installing this program within a live session is not permanent after reboot; only the effects of using gparted will survive reboot.

Using gparted's GUI, remove the RAID-0 and format each SSD to MBR or MSDOS format.

Once this task is completed, leave the Linux-enriched USB drive in your laptop's USB port and reboot your laptop.

Section Summary: Using gparted, I removed my Asus laptop's RAID0-array and formated the two SSDs to MSDOS.


Installing Linux Mint Onto The Laptop

Before we get into actually installing Linux, we should double-check that the SSDs are now RAID-0-free. There is nothing wrong with a little paranoia, especially if it saves us time later on.

Let's return to the program “gparted”. If you are using Linux Mint 13, you already have it installed; if not, you must install it again – this is a live Linux session, remember. Using the gparted GUI, visually verify that the RAID-0 array is absent and that the two SSDs are independent drives.

Once you are satisfied that the SSDs are indeed separate entities, you may close gparted as well as any other program you have open. No program should currently be open at this time.

On the live Linux Mint 13's Desktop, especially on Linux Mint 13, there will be an “Install Linux Mint” icon. Double-clicking this icon will begin the installation process to permanently install Linux onto your laptop.

Run this installation program and follow the prompts. Typically, you will be asked to create a username and password, set your time zone, and establish a few other settings as the installation progresses. You will be informed when the process completes, and if it completed successfully.

Once the installation is complete, a reboot/shutdown is required. You should remove the USB drive when prompted during the reboot/shutdown process.

Note: GRUB is a Linux program which helps Linux to boot; if everything executed correctly, you will not receive any errors during boot or regarding GRUB.

I never received any GRUB errors after following this procedure. Should you need to fix or repair GRUB at this point, you will may need to explore using Ubuntu's “Boot Repair” program. If this is the case, I wish you well; I did not need this once I had everything else lined up, so I'm unable to help you any further.

Section Summary: I verified that that the RAID-0 array was removed via gparted, and installed Linux Mint 13 from the live session. Once the install was complete, I removed the USB drive and enjoyed my newly minted Linux Asus UX51VZ-DH71.

 

This ends my walk-through. I welcome feedback, so feel free to email me.


Helpful Links

DistroWatch

LinuxMint.com

Linux Mint 13, "Maya"

UNetbootin

Boot-Repair