How to run Ubuntu on a Windows 8 computer.

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Before you start.

This article is an explanation on how to install Ubuntu on a Windows 8 machine. The guide is valid for desktop, PC and laptop owners. The explanation assumes that you already have a machine running Windows 8.1 (or 8.0), with a UEFI BIOS and a hard disk that can free up enough space for Ubuntu in addition to Windows. Ubuntu itself says that 6.5 Gb is the minimum, since 6.4 Gb is recommended during installation. I recommend 20 Gb so that you have at least a little workspace and I used 100 Gb for this (84 Gb Ubuntu and 16 Gb swap).

Tip : It is advisable to read this article in its entirety before you start installing.

Note : Leave some Gb space on the Windows partition. Windows may need it for its swap file.

Note : Windows 8 and newer probably work similarly.

Note : I am not a Linux expert, it could well be that there are better methods.

Total Destruction at Your Own Risk!

It is unlikely, but total destruction of the contents of your hard disk is not unthinkable. With steps in this explanation you can lose everything on the hard disk. So read well, think about what you do, and remember that you do everything at your own risk!

Running Ubuntu from USB in 3 steps

If you only want to start and run Ubuntu from the USB drive, for example because you rarely need it, follow these 3 steps only :

Step 1 – Make a Bootable Ubuntu USB stick

Step 4 – Turn OFF Fast Boot off

Step 5 – Set up UEFI BIOS so that you can boot from USB

If you use the BIOS boot menu, or give the USB drive the highest priority in the BIOS when it comes to booting, then you could start and run Ubuntu from a USB drive without changing anything on your hard disk. Especially with USB 3. 2 it runs pretty well .

Note that you have to check where you save your files because the USB drive is reset to its original state every time . Save files on a different drive to prevent erasure.

What we need

First of all, we of course need a Ubuntu 19.10 install ISO file, which you can find on the Ubuntu website.

We select the 64-bit version for most modern computers. The 32-bit version of course also works but is more for systems with less than 2Gb memory.

The 64-bit AMD (Mac) version is a special 64-bit version for MacOS X computers, so do not confuse this version with the regular 64-bit version.

In this example I use Ubuntu Desktop 19.10 64-bit and I already ran Windows 8.1 on my computer.

We then need the “Universal USB Installer” program with which we can make a bootable USB drive / stick.

Download it from their website so that you are sure that you have the most current version.

Now that we have the software and of course a computer with Windows 8, time to get to work .

Step 1 – Bootable Ubuntu USB stick

You have 2 options for boot media so that we can install Ubuntu: Create a bootable DVD or a bootable USB Stick/Drive.

Especially if your USB 3. 2 is available (stick or computer!) and you don’t want to waste a DVD, use the USB stick, I did anyway.

For those who want to burn a DVD : You can burn the downloaded Ubuntu ISO to DVD with your favorite program.

We use “Universal USB Installer” to create a bootable USB stick, which makes this process smooth and easy.

Download the program and start it.

  1. Select Ubuntu from the “Select a Linux Distribution” drop down list.
  2. Click “Browse” and select the downloaded Ubuntu ISO file.
  3. Select the correct drive under “Select your USB Flash Drive Letter”.
  4. Check the “We will format X: Drive as Fast32” option.
  5. Click on the “Create” button to start the process.

Universal USB Installer

After you have clicked on “Create”, there will be an overview of the steps that will be implemented. Click on “Yes” after you have verified the steps.

Universal USB Installer – Overview of steps

After you have clicked on “Yes”, we will see some windows flash by and the process progressing step by step .

Universal USB Installer – Create the USB Stick step by step .

During the process, the ISO file is disassembled (which may take a while), and the USB stick is created as desired.

Once you see the message “Installation Done, Process is Complete!” (at the bottom of the black box shows green text) then your USB stick is ready for use.

Click on the “Close” button to close Universal USB Installer.

Step 2 – Make a backup of your current Windows

Backups have a crazy feature. If you don’t have them, then you need them, if you do have them, then you (it seems) never use them. But to take it for granted, we make a backup. In this case of Windows and optionally your personal data. Windows 8.1 has a tool to create a recovery drive (USB Stick, roughly 16GB, USB 3. 2 recommended) and a tool to make a backup of your personal files (depending on what you have on your computer may require a lot of space).

There are other methods that also work very well, but I just wanted to use the existing tools in Windows here.

Before you make a Backup

This is a good time to:

  • To be sure that All Windows UPDATES are done … a bit drowsy if Windows gives one of its rude “update” messages during the restart.
  • Remove old clutter – after all, it makes no sense to back up something you won’t use.

Creating a Recovery Drive.

I can recommend a 16 Gb USB Stick (or larger) for this. If your computer USB 3. 2 supports it and you have a USB 3. 2 stick lying around, use this especially – it will save you lots of time. This is NOT the same USB stick that we have just created for Ubuntu!

To access the Windows Recovery program, open a Windows Explorer window and paste the following in the address bar “Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsRecovery” (of course without the quotes) and then press the ENTER key.

Note : I assume for a moment that the recovery option under Windows 8 looks similar. However, under Windows 7 it looks different and under Windows XP it simply does not exist.

Windows 8.1 – How to get to the Recovery Tools

In the “Recovery” window, choose the “Create a recovery drive option.”

Windows 8.1 Recovery Tools – Choose the “Create a recovery drive” option

This then directs you through the necessary steps.

Check the option “Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive” and click on “Next”.

Recovery Wizard – Select “Copy the recovery partition”

In the next window, we must select the correct USB drive – this drive will use Windows as a recovery drive. Choose your USB drive and click on the “Next” button.

Recovery Wizard – Select the desired USB drive

In the next window you will see a warning that the selected drive will be completely deleted. Click on “Next” to confirm this.

Recovery Wizard – Confirm deletion of the USB stick

Now we just have to pretend to be patient and wait … cup of coffee, cookie … or write an article for a website (that’s what I do now) .

Recovery Wizard – Creating the Recovery Disk

Depending on the speed of your computer, the USB stick, etc, this can take a few minutes.

Recovery Wizard – Ready!

Once done, click on “Finish”, remove the USB drive in the correct manner (eg with the Windows Eject option), and save it somewhere safe in case just about anything goes wrong.

Backup of Personal Files

In this step we will make a backup of our personal files and depending on what you have on your computer, this can be nothing or an enormous amount of data.

I am not going to spend too much time on this because I save my files on a NAS (Network Attached Storage – or a network drive) and therefore did not perform this procedure.

Windows has a backup tool for files in “My Documents”, in the English version this is called “File History” .

So first we need a storage medium, so for example an external USB drive is handy.

To access this program, paste “Control Panel System and Security File History” in the address bar of Windows Explorer .

It will immediately search for a suitable drive and the “File History” button is probably “OFF”.

Now set this to “ON” and click on the now available “Backup Now” button.

Warning: this only makes a copy of files that are in “My Documents”!

So everything else you put on the hard disk somewhere you will have to copy by hand yourself.

Step 3 – Make space for Ubuntu

In this step, we are going to make some space on the hard disk, and I assume for a moment that you have some space available.

Shrinking the Windows partition is fortunately not difficult and we use the “Disk Management” program for this, which you can find in “Control Panel” by searching for “Disk Management”.

When “Disk Management” opens, you will see all the partitions of the disk (s) in your PC … as you see: the days of Windows XP and a single partition are apparently over. Multiple Recovery Partitions, an EFI partition and a “C:” partition.

Windows 8.1 – Disk Management.

To do the “C:” partition right click on the C partition and choose “Shrink Volume” from the menu.

Windows 8.1 – Disk Management – Decrease volume

A popup appears briefly with an analysis of the space on your drive.

Then the “Shrink C:” window appears where we can indicate how much space the C-drive wants to take away.

In the field “Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB”, we indicate in principle how much MB we want to use for Ubuntu. In the example below, I reserve 100 GB for my Ubuntu partition (100,000). You can use a different value here, since this depends on how much space you think you need and how much space is available on the disk. If I guess carefully, 10 GB (10,000) is the minimum for Ubuntu.

Do not forget this number, as we will need it later.

Windows 8.1 – Volume C: reduce

Once you have entered the desired value, click on the “Shrink” button – this process goes surprisingly smoothly by the way .

You will also see below that “Disk Management” indicates a block “Unallocated” what the space for Ubuntu becomes.

Step 4 – Disable Fast Boot

To be able to start from USB, we must turn off Fast Boot . This is an option that does or does not exist on your PC, so just check if this is the case, and if so: switch it off.

Fast Boot can also be found in the “Control Panel”, in “Hardware and Sounds” under the Power Options.

Windows 8.1 – Energy management

In this window we click “Change what the power buttons do”.

Windows 8.1 – Power management – Disable Fast Boot

Here we remove the check mark for “Turn on fast startup (recommended)” .

If this option is not visible or grayed out, first click on “Change settings that are currently unavailable”.

Then click on the “Save changes” button.

Step 5 – Set up UEFI BIOS so we can start from USB

Secure Boot is a BIOS (more correct: UEFI) option, which ensures that a computer will only start if the software, according to the PC manufacturer at least, comes from a reliable source. So note that “Secure Boot” is not required (as far as I can tell). It is an attempt by PC manufacturers to make PCs “safer” .

You should not confuse “Secure Boot” with “UEFI” and “Legacy” boot mode!

If Windows was installed under UEFI Boot Mode , it will no longer work correctly if you go to “Legacy” mode!

Before we continue : Insert the Ubuntu USB Stick in the USB port of the computer, so that the BIOS can see it immediately.

Enter the UEFI BIOS

Option 1 – Direct

You can often get into the “BIOS” during PC startup (with F1, F2, F12, Del or the Esc key) .

My Acer laptop would like me to hold down the F2 key when the Acer logo appears, for an Acer Desktop this appears to be the Del key.

Option 2 – Via Windows

Sometimes it’s just easier to click “Restart” in Windows while holding down SHIFT.

In the emerging screen, choose “Troubleshoot” “Advanced Options” “UEFI Firmware Settings” “Restart”.

For those who use “Start-Is-Back”: The SHIFT trick (option 2) does NOT work in the Start menu.

Instead, go to the login screen, click on the power button (bottom right), and now press and hold SHIFT and click “Restart”.

Disable UEFI Secure Boot

Short version: Go into the (UEFI) BIOS and disable “Secure Boot” .

Long version:

There is a very wide variety of BIOS screens, some are simple, others are nicely dressed and even support the mouse. The only (UEFI) Windows machine that I have at the moment is an Acer Laptop (Aspire V5-552P-X440), so I will show you these screens. Other brands/models have something similar or you can quickly find the keywords you need.

You can expect the “Secure Boot” under “Security” or “Boot”.

“Secure Boot” is gray?

On certain systems, such as my Acer, you must first set a “Supervisor Password” in the “Security” screen.

Once set, you can turn the “Secure Boot” option, which I found in the “Boot” screen, on or off.

Once “Secure Boot” is switched off (“disabled”), make sure to take the trouble to remove the “Supervisor Password” again (enter empty password).

There is nothing more annoying than forgetting what a password was .

So first find the “Secure Boot” option, this is an option that you can set to “enabled” or “disabled”.

On my Acer this was nice and confusing because the term “Secure Boot” could be found in the “Security” and the “Boot” screen.

After some trashing I noticed that I needed the version in the “Boot” screen.

Set “Secure Boot” to “disabled”!

Do not forget to clear the “Supervisor Password” again, if it was necessary to first define a password .

UEFI BIOS – Supervisor Password

UEFI BIOS – Disable Secure Boot

Set up USB launch

Now that we are in the BIOS, it might be a good time to take a look at the boot order.

Option 1 (recommended, if the BIOS supports it) is using the “Boot Menu” option.

On my Acer this ensures that I can press F12 during startup as soon as I see the Acer logo to make a choice in a boot menu.

Convenient option and saves time if we do not use external drives.

UEFI BIOS – Boot Menu

Option 2 is to adjust the “Boot order” in the BIOS – Acer uses the “Windows Boot Manager” as the default drive, but in our case we want to start from the USB stick with Ubuntu. The advantage is that we don’t need to remember F12, but on the other hand, this may start the PC unnecessarily slow, especially if you did not connect a USB drive.

Do not forget to save the settings (“Save Settings” in the “Exit” screen) when you are done.

Step 6 – Install Ubuntu

OK, time for the “big” step: Installing Ubuntu .

Start your computer and be sure that the USB drive is bootable.

On my Acer, I noticed that the USB drive was not always recognized immediately with a cold start – in that case, perform a warm start (CTRL + ALT + DEL).

You should see the following if the computer was booted from the USB drive:

GNU GRUB version 2.02 ^ beta2-9

┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── ──────┐

│ * Try Ubuntu without installing │

│ Install Ubuntu │

│ OEM install (for manufacturers) │

│ Check disk for defects │

└────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── ──────┘

We now have two options: Install Ubuntu (I have NOT tested this), or Start in Ubuntu (“Try Ubuntu without installing”) – This last option (the first option on the computer screen) is what we are going to use.

This is the option if you want to keep starting Ubuntu from a USB drive.

Select the “Try Ubuntu without installing” option.

Depending on the speed of your computer and USB, you should see a screen like this fairly quickly:

Ubuntu – Started from a USB drive

The initial screen gives you an overview of available keyboard combinations which you can close by clicking the button or by clicking anywhere on the desktop.

Then double-click the “Install Ubuntu 19” icon (the name may be slightly different depending on the Ubuntu version).

Ubuntu – Select Language

A screen appears in which you can choose the language, choose your language here and click on “Continue”.

Ubuntu – Enable WiFi for installation?

If your computer has WiFi available, a dialog will appear asking you to set up the WiFi connection. If necessary, choose your WiFi network and enter a possible password and then click on “Connect”.

It takes a few seconds and, strangely enough, there is no clear feedback to the user that the connection has been established.

Note that we need a network connection at some point, even if it is not for the initial Ubuntu installation!

Click on “Continue” to go to the next screen.

Ubuntu – Updates during installation?

In the next screen you are offered the option to immediately install the most current updates and any third-party applications (such as an MP3 codec) – you can skip this if you want, the installation will then be a lot easier. However, if you want to be immediately up-to-date, use this.

You can also carry out updates at a later time.

You will also see the required hard disk space (6.4Gb) on the screen.

Click “Continue”.

If Ubuntu asks you to unmount certain partitions, choose “No”. Your hard disk should already be mounted and this question also relates to any additional drives (for example, I used a second USB drive to store the screenshots used in this article).

The installer now asks for the installation type.

Now pay attention !!!

Select the option “Something else” here as the other options empty your hard disk.

Click on “Continue” after checking “Something else”.

Ubuntu – Partition overview

The following screen, a partition overview of your hard disk(s), may seem intimidating, but don’t worry, it’s not all that difficult – as long as you pay close attention to what you are doing.

So pay attention VERY WELL to what you do !!!

Here we will specify the target partition for the installation of Ubuntu and this partition will be completely deleted !! (you made a backup of Windows, right?)

If you look through the list then you will see at least one partition that is marked as “free space”.

On my hard disk I ran into three “free space” lines, but two of them were super small and therefore not relevant (1Mb partition? 0Mb partition?). One of the three was comparable in size to the empty space that we had previously created under Windows – so that is the space that we are going to use.

Ubuntu can be set up in different ways and here I choose an approach that will use 2 partitions.

Depending on your preferences, you can also create a third partition for data, for example, and even a fourth for temporary files and (tmp), etc.

Because I do not yet know how much space I want to use for my documents, and because I usually save my documents on a NAS, I decided to just use a two partition model. One for Ubuntu and one for the swap partition.

There are people who state that you no longer need a “Swap” partition, but I believe that a separate swap partition makes things easier.

To determine the size of the swap partition, one often follows the rule of thumb: 2 x amount of RAM that your computer has. If space is limited, select 1.5 x the amount of RAM.

How much memory does my computer have?

If you are not 100% sure how much RAM your computer has, open a Terminal window (shell) and type:

cat / proc / meminfo

In the first line you will see “MemTotal” which indicates how much RAM your computer has installed (in kB).

The first partition that we are going to create is the Ubuntu partition. To determine the size of this partition, we must reduce the total free space with the desired swap partition. Because I have 8Gb memory in my laptop and follow the 2x RAM rule, I have to keep in mind a swap partition of 16Gb.

My free space is 104857 MB (say 100 GB), I want to use 16Gb for the swap partition. Google can do the calculation for you.

Open Google in the web browser and type “104857 MB – 16 GB in MB” and Google gives you the answer: 88857 MB.

Of course you have to do this with the numbers that you see on your computer and want to apply – note the capital letters in MB and GB!

So we are going to create a 88,857 MB (84 GB) partition for Ubuntu, and a 16Gb Swap partition .

Select the “free space” line that represents the previously released space (under Windows).

Click on the “+” on the left below the list.

Ubuntu – Create the Ubuntu (root) partition

As shown above:

Enter the calculated number in the “Size” field (in my case it was 88857),

set “Type of the new partition” to “Logical”,

set “Location for the new partition” to “Beginning of this space”,

set “Use as” to “Ext4 journaling file system”,

set “Mount point” to “/” (root).

Then click on “OK” to implement these changes.

The list of partitions will be updated after creating the partition.

Now find the line that we just created (look at the “Size” and “Type” columns, where you will find the calculated number and “ext4”).

The immediately following line is again a “free space” and should be the size of the calculated size of the swap partition.

Select that line.

Ubuntu – The remaining space for the Swap Partition

If the “free space” line is selected, click on the “+” button again, below left on the partition list so that we can create a partition again.

Ubuntu – Create the Swap Partition

As seen above:

The “Size” field should already contain the correct value (the size of the desired swap partition).

Set “Type for the new partition” back to “Logical”,

set “Location for the new partition” to “Beginning of this space”,

and set “Use as” to “swap area”.

Click “OK” again to create the partition.

By default, the boot loader is set to “/ dev / sda installed” – don’t chamge this value, unless you are 100% sure of what you’re doing.

No idea if it is really necessary, but I select the newly created Ubuntu partition before I continue.

Now click on the “Install Now” button if you are sure that you have done everything right.

Ubuntu – Where are we?

In the emerging screen we indicate our location. You can optionally type in the name of a larger city close to your location. I live near Minneapolis but unfortunately that is not in the list, so I choose Chicago (same time zone). And, for example , if you live in the Netherlands, you can use Amsterdam.

Click “Continue” for the next step.

Ubuntu – Choose the layout of the keyboard .

Choose the keyboard layout that you use (often just English (US)) and click “Continue”.

Ubuntu – Set up the first user account

In this screen we will create a user account – up to you what name and also you may want to fill in whether to use automatic login or not.

When you have finished filling in, click on the “Continue” button again and the installation will start.

Ubuntu – Installation is running!

Installation can take a while, so a good time to walk the dog or eat a snack.

When installation is complete, Ubuntu will ask you to restart the computer (reboot) – DO NOT RESTART THE COMPUTER and stay in the Ubuntu Live environment. We still have to adjust some things so that the computer can also boot in Ubuntu.

Click on “Continue Testing”.

Step 7 – A working Dual Boot with Windows 8 and Ubuntu.

If we now restarted the computer, the computer would immediately start in Windows without asking – not exactly what we expect when we talk about “Dual Boot” – so we have to fix things before we get it working.

If you accidentally restarted the computer, restart Ubuntu from the USB drive as we did before.

Before we go any further: we are now going to need an Internet connection. So if you don’t have a connection yet, this is a good time to turn it on (click on the network icon at the top right).

First we will use a program called “Boot Repair” – which is not installed by default .

Open a Terminal window (click on the Ubuntu icon in the top left and type “terminal” and then click the “Terminal” icon).

Type (or copy and paste) the following in the Terminal:





sudo add-apt-repository ppa: yannubuntu / boot-repair

sudo sed ‘s / trusty / saucy / g’ -i /etc/apt/sources.list.d/yannubuntu-boot-repair-trusty.list

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair (boot-repair;)

These commands add a repository so that we can find “Boot Repair”, it does an update, installs “Boot Repair” and eventually it will launch “Boot Repair”.

After quite a few messages that fly by in the Terminal, Boot Repair will start and start a scan.

Boot Repair – Scan during the start

At the end of the scan you will most likely receive a warning that an EFI BIOS was detected, just click on “OK”.

You may then receive a message that a number of packages must be installed, choose “OK” again and the main window of “Boot Repair” will appear.

Boot Repair – Main Window

Here we choose the “Recommended repair” option and “Boot Repair” gets started.

Boot Repair at work.

After a few seconds you will probably receive a message asking you to copy a piece of text and execute it in the Terminal. For this we open another Terminal. Right-click the text, select “Select All” and then right click again and choose “Copy”. Now go to the newly opened Terminal, right-click in the window and choose “Paste”.

Boot Repair – Copy, Paste and Execute these commands.

You will, after pasting, see the first commands executed but not the last line. Press ENTER to execute the latter.

And again a lot of information appears.

If the Terminal window finally returns to a normal prompt, click on the “Forward” button in the window from which we have just copied the text.

Boot Repair – And copy, paste and run again.

Another window appears with the message that we must execute commands. Repeat the same steps as we did with the previous window.

And again we see a lot of information.

When Terminal is ready, click “Forward” again as we did before.

“Boot Repair” will now reinstall Grub.

You may receive an error message at the end “An error occurred during repair”.

If you want, you can write down the link but I honestly did not use this info. The info was interesting, but I just don’t know what to do with it.

Click on “OK”.

If “Boot Repair” is ready, then we must also repair the boot loader in Windows.

Reboot the computer … which will probably restart Windows.

If Windows is running, login and start a command prompt as an administrator.

The easiest way to do that is with the Windows key + X.

In the menu that opens, choose “Command Prompt (Admin)”.

In the command prompt window, type the following and then press the ENTER key:

bcdedit / set “” path EFIubuntugrubx64.efi

You can now close the DOS window and restart the computer.

During the boot process, a window will appear that looks like the image below.

I recommend testing both “Ubuntu” and “Windows Boot Manager” to make sure it works.

GNU GRUB version 2.02 ^ beta2-9

┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── ──────┐

│ * Ubuntu │

│ Advanced options for Ubuntu │

│ Windows Boot Manager (on / dev / sda2) │

│ System setup │

└────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── ──────┘

If your computer does NOT start with the Grub Bootloader,

On my Acer laptop I ran into this problem, and it was caused by the drill priority in the BIOS (“Boot” screen) which by default gives the “Windows Boot Manager” the highest priority. To get started with Grub, I had to give my hard disk the highest priority.

After this, Grub started as expected.

A program (untested!) Such as EasyUEFI, for Windows, can be useful here.

Did I answer your question “How to run Ubuntu on a Windows 8 computer?” I hope so!

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