Adding Linux To A Windows Laptop

Some Laptops Are Linux Ready, The Rest Just Need Some Convincing

We are starting to see a few companies such as Dell return to offering laptops which are running Linux, instead of Windows.  There are also some Windows laptops which are advertised as being approved for use with Linux, if you wanted to switch after the fact.  However, most Windows laptops can be convinced to boot to Linux if you are willing to put in the work.  The Register describes the steps on doing this, in their case they are leaving the Windows install active so they can dual boot; perfect if you want to dip your toes into Linux without leaving Windows, or if you want a multipurpose laptop.

The first step should be to ensure Linux can actually see the hard drive, as there are now a number of common features which will prevent that, all of which can be solved by booting the laptop into Windows.  The main worries are ensuring BitLocker is disabled, moving off of Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology, disabling Windows’ Fast Boot and making sure that your disk is set to run in AHCI, not RAID, as all of these will prevent Linux from even seeing your hard drive.   Although Windows likes to get upset when you change some of these settings, the article contains simple command line tools that will smarten it up.  Once your Linux boot disk can see the drive you are ready to get going.

It is a good idea to clean up the various partitions that Windows 10/11 likes to create, though don’t touch the UEFI System Partition.  You can use Linux tools like GParted to shrink the size of the existing Windows partition or even Windows Disk Management tool.  You will want partitions not just for the main installation but a separate one for /home is strongly recommended as is a swap partition at least as big as your computer’s RAM.

Check out all the steps here, and think about what you could do with a hybrid Linux and Windows laptop.

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