Nightmares with computers – Seattle's Maple Leaf Locksmith LLC – (206)335-4559

Nightmares with computers

Just bought a nice computer from, pretty excited to try out an nvme drive, decent video card, etc and buy the thing as a business expense. Only problem is, new computers are impossible to install operating systems on. I’ve probably spent  ten hours trying to install windows, debian, ubuntu, fedora etc on it.

Originally I wanted to install windows 7 in a dual boot configuration, something I’ve done probably fifteen times before. That was back when things were simpler, and there was an MBR and fdisk and stuff that was time-tested.

Enter 2017. The System76 system came with a nvme drive which may possibly require uefi, gpt, and numerous other mumbo jumbo. I have repartitioned and formatted this poor nvme disk so many times it’s sad. I no longer care about installing windows on this laptop, I just want it to boot to something. Anything!

The problem is that I either can’t install GRUB for some reason or that the system simply won’t boot. There is no optical drive so optical discs won’t work. I bought a usb optical drive but it didn’t help. You can’t install windows 7 from a usb3 port and that’s all this system has.

The solution to getting windows 7 to install on this thing is a long series of esoteric commands to slipstream usb3 drivers into the windows 7 image. It failed for some reason.

I believe the issue is that the installation media for linux doesn’t detect that efi is required, some workarounds are described that involve downloading a special version of grub for efi and amd64. Unfortunately this system uses a wireless hardware without drivers known to linux so it isn’t automatically configured. That means that you can’t automatically get set up to download new drivers or missing software.

I am sure that usually system76 computers are great but for me this is a giant headache, and I’ve been using linux for more than ten years.

Update: the trick to reinstalling turned out to be using ubuntu 16.10 which has the necessary drivers for nvme drives. I don’t know why neither the mint or the debian distro had this. A working computer once more!

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Bjørn Madsen

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