Dual boot Linux and Windows 8 on Dell Inspiron 14z

Got a Dell Inspiron 14z with a 500GB SATA hard drive and a 32GB SSD mSATA card. Laptop came with Windows pre-installed on the SATA HDD with the SSD serving as a cache using Intel's proprietory caching mechanism called Smart Response Technology (SRT). My objective was to keep Windows 8 and install Linux alongside it. Since it essentially has two hard drives, there are a couple of ways to go about dual booting. I decided to keep it simple and use each drive dedicated to each OS -- leave Windows on the big HDD (500GB SATA) and install linux on the smaller SSD (32GB mSATA card).

Disable Intel's proprietory caching in BIOS

During POST, hit F2 to enter SETUP, went to "Advanced" tab.

Under "SATA Operation", changed from "Intel(R) Smart Response Technology" to "AHCI"
Under "Intel(R) Rapid Start Technology", changed from "Enabled" to "Disabled"

Partitioning and Linux install

During Linux (Ubuntu 12.04 LTS) install, deleted the NTFS partition on /dev/sdb (32GB SSD), created a 31GB ext4 root partition (/dev/sdb1) and a 1GB swap partition (/dev/sdb2). Device for boot loader installation: /dev/sdb

Change boot drive in BIOS

After Ubuntu install finished, restarted, hit F2 to enter SETUP again, went to "Boot" tab.

Under "Boot List Option", change from "UEFI" to "Legacy"
Under "Boot Priority", put "Second HDD" above "Hard Drive".

This will cause the laptop boot into Linux by default.

To boot into Windows, just need to hit F12 during POST and choose "Windows Boot Manager" under "UEFI OPTIONS".

Conclusion

To recap, the first disk (HDD) is fully dedicated to Windows along with its own boot loader, while the second disk (SSD) is dedicated to Linux along with its own grub boot loader. This setup should hopefully be seemless for OS updates.

11 Comments

  • 1. Alejandro replies at 12th March 2013, 3:49 pm :

    Hello,

    I follow your indications but when I try to install linux (Kubuntu) I am not able to see any device or partition. I can choose sda but it is empty! I have the same laptop model, using Windows 8.

    Thank you very much!

    Alejandro.

  • 2. Alain Kelder replies at 12th March 2013, 5:10 pm :

    Hello Alejandro,

    That’s weird that not only can you not see the SSD (/dev/sdb on mine), but the HDD (/dev/sda on mine) shows up as unpartitioned. Those might be two separate issues.

    First, did you change the two settings I’d mentioned?

    Under “SATA Operation”, changed from “Intel(R) Smart Response Technology” to “AHCI”
    Under “Intel(R) Rapid Start Technology”, changed from “Enabled” to “Disabled”

    Regarding the unpartitioned HDD. On my system, it was the Windows boot drive and the SSD was used as a cache. Are you able to boot into Windows? If so, then I’m not sure why the Kubuntu installer wouldn’t see any partitions. Perhaps try boot the Kubuntu Live CD and look at whatever disk utility Kubuntu includes (Ubuntu has “Disk Utility”). You could also try fdisk and parted (open up the Terminal and try “sudo fdisk -l” and “sudo parted -l”). Maybe also look at dmesg with “dmesg | egrep -i ‘sd[a,b]|scsi|ata’” or just pipe dmesg to less (“dmesg | less”) and look for errors or warnings there.

    Happy hunting,
    Alain

  • 3. Alejandro replies at 13th March 2013, 1:30 am :

    Hi,

    thank you very much for your answer. It is a pity this SRT thing! I am a linux user since 2006 and never had a problem like this.

    Yes I can boot into Windows. I will test using Ubuntu instead of Kubuntu. I hope there will be soon a real support to install easily linux (Ubuntu or another linux distro) on this kind of configuration.

    I will try to take a look this evening and keep you informed.

    Best regards,
    Alejandro.

  • 4. Giovanni replies at 5th April 2013, 12:27 pm :

    Hi! thanks for the tutorial, worked fine for me (with help from here also: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UEFI). But after i install ubuntu, wifi doesn’t work! (nor ethernet).. Did have any problems like that while installing?
    Best regards,
    Giovanni Rescia.

    PS: As you may see, english is not my native language, but i do my best…

  • 5. Khalid replies at 25th July 2013, 2:33 pm :

    Hi, Thnaks for the nice tute. Worked for me for linux mint and have been happy with it but cannot load into windows 8. Its just gets stuck at the automatic repair screen. Any advice???? Choosing Windows boot manager after pressing f12 just causes reboot and then into the linux.

    Thanks

  • 6. Alain Kelder replies at 25th July 2013, 4:08 pm :

    Khalid, sounds like a problem with Windows. Might have to reinstall Windows.

  • 7. Alain Kelder replies at 25th July 2013, 4:13 pm :

    Giovanni, sorry for the late reply, but the answer is no, I didn’t have any issues with networking. It’s weird that both Wi-Fi and wired aren’t working since I believe they’re provided by different adapters. Are you sure it’s not a problem with your network (DHCP, DNS, etc). I’d start with basic network troubleshooting (e.g. http://www.linuxhomenetworking.com/wiki/index.php/Quick_HOWTO_:_Ch04_:_Simple_Network_Troubleshooting)

  • 8. Lauro replies at 5th August 2013, 2:42 pm :

    Hi Alain,
    i followed your instructions but i have the same problem that Alejandro.
    When i choose “try ubuntu”, i see all devices and partitions, but when i
    try to install, at partitioning screen, i see one device (/dev/sdb) unpartitioned.
    Do you know what could be happening?
    Thanks in advance.
    Lauro

  • 9. 512gb solid state drive replies at 23rd August 2013, 10:02 pm :

    Hi everybody, here every person is sharing these kinds of know-how, thus it’s nice to read this blog, and I used to pay a quick visit this web site everyday.

  • 10. Adler Medrado replies at 30th December 2013, 12:44 pm :

    Thank you for your help.
    I’ll try next week and will come back to tell you if it worked or not.

    This approach affects Dell’s Warranty?

    If one decide to revert and use only Windows 8 again is just revert setup options?

    Thanks

  • 11. wafa replies at 25th January 2014, 7:31 pm :

    Hello, i tried to install kubuntu 12.04on my laptop, i had 200 gigas free and wanted to install Kubuntu in this free partition, in the manual it Was said that Kubuntu will be installed on the free space, but acter sélection this method , it disabled thd Windows partition, Can i rentable it again
    And get back my data, please help.

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