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I just bought a refurbished Samsung series 7 (NP700Z5C). I got a great deal on it from Best Buy so that's why I went with it. My intention all along has been to remove windows 8 completely and install Ubuntu, but now that my laptop has arrived and I've started to look in to the process more deeply I see that there are a lot of problems with this range of laptops firmware, particularly with respect to Linux (Is it safe to install Ubuntu 64 Bit 12.10 in EFI mode on Samsung series 7 WIndows 8 laptop?).

So my thought is that I'll install as a dual boot, reserving a small region of hard drive space for windows 8. I assume that once Samsung update the firmware the fix will be made available via an update through windows. If the laptop 'bricks' anytime in the next 90 days then I can return the laptop under it's warranty, and hopefully the fix will come before then. (an aside: I spoke to customer services at Best Buy, they said that they were unsure if installing Ubuntu would violate the warranty, and that I should call Samsung to check. Samsung told me that it would not, so long as I return the laptop to its original conditions before returning it. If the computer bricks then I wouldn't be able to do that, but then there's no way they could tell what I'd done with it anyway.)

So I wanted to ask advice from the larger community, because I'm new to Ubuntu and know very little about the internal workings of computers; firmware, bios, etc. Does my plan seem sensible, or have I missed something that's going to screw me over? Even though I got a good deal the money was a huge investment for me.

My second option is to return the laptop and get a System76 machine, but a similar spec machine will set me back half as much again as I paid for this Samsung. Perhaps people could suggest whether they think that would be worth it. I'd really like my new laptop to last the 6 years my last one did.

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I don't think dual-booting is going to have a lower risk than just doing a clean install.. Either way, you're risking bricking it (even though Windows can do it too). – Seth May 4 '13 at 17:17
@Seth Thanks, yeah I realize that, but is my theory about a firmware update likely coming through windows reasonable? If it bricks within 90 days then I'll return it. – EddyThe B May 4 '13 at 17:19
I don't know when Samsung will come out with a firmware update, but I'd think it would be pretty high on their todo list. So it should be soon... – Seth May 4 '13 at 17:21
@Seth that's what I figured. I contacted Samsung and they said "We don't support firmware for Ubuntu, we recommend windows 8". But I assume that's just an automatic response to anyone who mentions the "U" word. If the firmware is fixed for windows then there should be no problem with Ubuntu, right? – EddyThe B May 4 '13 at 17:34
I recommend you, first disable UEFI and secure boot in the BIOS, so you can use legacy way of booting. Disable fast boot mode as well. – grimpitch May 4 '13 at 17:35
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Because your original plan was to install Ubuntu without Windows, the safest approach is to do that in BIOS/CSM/legacy mode. I recommend:

  1. Boot Windows and create a set of emergency recovery discs, if it's got a program to do this; or create a complete backup of the hard disk using some other tool. This is so you can restore the system to its factory settings in the future, if you decide this is desirable.
  2. Using a Linux live CD, launch GParted and tell it to create a fresh partition table. This will wipe out the GUID Partition Table (GPT) that's currently in use and replace it with an old-style Master Boot Record (MBR; aka "msdos") partition table.
  3. Boot the Linux installer in BIOS mode. The details of how to do this depend on the firmware. You may need to enter the firmware setup utility to enable BIOS/CSM/legacy support or to disable EFI/UEFI support; or you may need to use the firmware's built-in boot manager to tell it explicitly to boot the installer in BIOS/CSM/legacy mode (usually by selecting a boot option for the medium that does not include the acronym "EFI" or "UEFI").
  4. Verify that you've booted the installer in BIOS mode by dropping to a shell and looking for the directory /sys/firmware/efi. If it's not present, you've probably booted in BIOS mode. If that file is present, you should reboot and try again, since you've booted in EFI mode.
  5. Install normally.

Thereafter, you've got a system that you can treat like a normal BIOS-based computer and not worry about the firmware's bricking bug, since that bug can be triggered only from an EFI-booted OS. Note that the bug can be triggered from Windows, so dual-booting with Windows in EFI mode poses at least some risk.

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This sounds good, so I'd make my machine Ubuntu only, and not have to worry about a firmware update because I would not be using EFI anyway? A question though, is there anything about BIOS mode that is deficient to EFI? Like will my processor not be working to it's full potential under BIOS mode? Sorry if this is a stupid question, I really know very little about bios. Thanks. – EddyThe B May 5 '13 at 20:01
The answer may depend on your firmware. I've seen claims that Macs booted in BIOS mode don't use AHCI disk access, for instance, but I don't know how common this is. – Rod Smith May 6 '13 at 2:10
Well everything seems to have worked. Thanks a load. – EddyThe B May 6 '13 at 14:27

I have a 700Z5C-S02UB (from BestBuy too). Boot windows first and make sure the BIOS is updated to the latest version. Disable fast boot and secure boot and the proceed with the installation. I kept the windows partition just in case.

If everything goes you should have Ubuntu running in no time. Later, you'll need:

  • Install Bumblebee to use the nvidia card
  • Use this fix for high CPU usage.
  • Set this parameters to fix the sensitivity of the touchpad.
  • IME, Keyboard backlight intensity can be controlled in windows, so when booting windows, set the backlight to the desired intensity... on/off based on ambient light works fine in Ubuntu
  • You can use flashcache to use the 8Gb SSD to boost disk performance.

I'm probably forgetting something, but otherwise, is a fine machine... enjoy!

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Thanks, I think I am going to try Rod Smith's answer first, since it looks like I could be rid of the problem for good. But these suggestions will undoubtably be useful when/if I succeed. – EddyThe B May 5 '13 at 20:05
yeah, no problem. It doesn't really answer your specific question, I just wanted to put it all together :) – GClaramunt May 6 '13 at 2:11
Yeah, thanks, it's useful. Btw, did you have any difficulties with your wi-fi? It drops out every 10 minutes for me and I have to disable and the enable it to find my network again. – EddyThe B May 6 '13 at 14:29
not really, if I have a strong signal, works just fine – GClaramunt May 6 '13 at 14:56
I had to disable ipv6, now it works fine. On flashcache, I've been looking in to it and it looks great, but what do I need to do to make it work? A lot of the details look quite complicated, did you find a good guide? Thanks. – EddyThe B May 9 '13 at 3:05

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