UPDATE 11/23/2020: Am reclaiming Media Library space by deleting old pics. Trying to thin out the Media Library’s pics from posts that get few visits … hopefully it doesn’t ruin your view of the post.

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Got a new Laptop? Interested in trying Linux on it, but wondering how to go about it without messing things up? Some of those Laptops are quite expensive; especially some of the Dell and Lenovo laptops that come preinstalled with Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS. There are many reasons why computer OEM’s such as Dell and Lenovo like to use Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS on their preinstalled Linux computers – its stability and reliability may be the #1 reason though. Popularity of Ubuntu by developers and regular Linux users would be another reason. Highly customizable, suitable for both beginners and old timers, plus it can be used on desktops/laptops and servers which are some more reasons.

Stability comes from being a Long Term Support (LTS) Distro, and Ubuntu 18.04.3’s support lasts until sometimes in 2028 – which makes it a great Distro to install on a new Laptop. *I don’t know of any OEM’s who use a rolling release like Arch or Arch-based Distros as their preinstalled Linux OSes.* Rolling releases are about as unstable as you can get, they have more defects and are totally unpredictable as to how or when they will suddenly change on you. They push their so-called “cutting-edge” updating of the OS and software, but many can’t even be installed using a basic USB Docking Station or DVD-Rom without having problems – hardware recognition is a serious problem with these seemingly never ending “cutting-edge” updates, and you certainly don’t want to be installing it on a new Laptop with Windows 10.

(*UPDATE* – renown  radical ANTIFA-ishFanatical‘ Linux user, Orca, has sent me a – Newsflash for Karmi! – that points out at least two OEM’s who sell Manjaro Linux preinstalled on their products, and also mentions the possibility that  some OEM may offer the Unstable Debian branch with preinstalled rolling releases’ ‘Bleeding edge technology‘ update method…yes, I believe I have read where some OEM’s may offer the Unstable Debian branch.)

LTS = Stability, and that is why Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS is the Linux Distro of choice for most OEMs. It’s also why I recommend trying it, testing it and installing it – especially on a new Laptop that comes preinstalled with Windows 10, and you can find plenty of those that are priced far below the $1000-1500 ones that have Ubuntu preinstalled.

The method I use is not the “Install Ubuntu alongside Windows Boot Manager” – in fact, I don’t want Windows 10 to even ‘See’ Ubuntu, and that way I avoid having to edit or fix the Windows Boot Manager and/or the MBR at a later date. There is no stopping Ubuntu from ‘Seeing’ Windows 10, which is OK, and works out great as a way to dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows 10; however, this method will give you the choice to go into BIOS and set Windows 10 as the first boot. That is, two choices in BIOS – 1) set Windows 10 as the lone first boot, or 2) set Ubuntu’s GNU GRUB boot loader as the first boot. The #2 choice looks like this:

That’s not my pic – I don’t know how to take a pic during boot, only know how when on the actual desktop, but that pic is an example of the dual-boot offered by #2 choice above. #1 choice above just has Windows 10 booting right into its desktop – it never ‘Sees’ Ubuntu.

OK…the first step is to resize the SSD (HDD’s in laptops are too noisy for me). Go to Computer Management, and open Disk Management:

Click on the (C:) in Disk 0, and select Shrink Volume, and a popup of Shrink C: come up:

I’m going to shrink it 47803 MB’s (that will be where I install Ubuntu later, on about 48 GB’s). After shrinking, we create a New Volume with NTFS formatting. Ends up at a 46.68 GB partition which will be plenty big enough for Ubuntu – if your drive is small, give Ubuntu less space – if drive is big you can give it more space:

I keep backups of my OS drive, so the second step is to create a new backup of the newly shrunk SSD drive. Window 10 offers a Backup and Restore (Windows 7) in the Control Panel:

Select it, and the next window offers a “Create a system image” on the left side:

Select that, and do the backup to your backup drive (separate from OS drive) – I use a USB Docking Station – follow the instructions, and if you don’t have a system repair disc it will ask if you want one after the backup is finished, and the system repair disc can find your backup later if needed and it’s connected to laptop…some Windows 10 users never know they have a full backup and restore program available. It will restore everything back as it was – the OS and all settings. I keep my data on a couple drives that are also used for my backups. I may do a post on the entire Backup and Restore process at a later date, but it is fairly quick and easy.

Step 3 … installation. I’ll skip creating the ‘Live’ Ubuntu 18.04.3 USB media, and will also skip a lot of the normal installation process – I have many posts and pics of those steps and processes throughout my blog here. Getting the correct partitions and settings are the main focus of this method. The first pic is – Installation type:

It lets us know that it ‘Sees’ a Windows Boot Manager, and asks what we want to do. Since the point of this method is to ‘Hide’ Ubuntu from Windows 10, we have no interest in the first option – “Install Ubuntu alongside Windows Boot Manager” – since that often leads to an actual Windows Boot Manager showing up with Ubuntu as a choice in a dual-boot. We want just a Ubuntu GNU GRUB boot loader showing up with the dual-boot options – that’s in case we don’t like Ubuntu and decide to erase it from the SSD entirely…sorta like leaving no fingerprints of Ubuntu. Thusly, we select the “Something else” and hit Continue:

Now we can see the SSD and its partitions as Linux handles such … /dev/sda is the entire SSD … the /dev/sda4 is the Windows 10 partition after the shrinking … the /dev/sda5 is the partition we created for Ubuntu. We click and/or highlight the /dev/sda5 partition:

Then click on “Change” button near bottom left, and then we get a popup:

In the popup, we leave size as is, then select Use as: dropdown, and select Ext4 journaling file system, next click/check Format the partition, and finally in the Mount Point: we select “/” from the dropdown…do a double-check, and click the OK button:

Another double-check … /dev/sda5 is now Type ext4, with a “/” Mount Point and formatted. We move down to bottom left where Device for boot loader installation: has a dropdown, and select /dev/sda5 – time to hit Install Now button. After installation, reboot and see if Windows 10 or the Ubuntu Grub boot loader boots up first…I like to check and make sure that Windows 10 can boot up by itself, and then switch to the Ubuntu Grub boot loader’s dual-boot option. You may have to make a few trips into BIOS in order to get it to boot the way you want it to. Here is a pic from the Ubuntu Gparted app that shows final successful results of installation:

Here is a pic from Windows 10 Disk Manager’s view of successful installation:

Note the changes from the original created (E:) NTFS formatted New Volume’s pic previously inserted above, to the final (E:) “RAW” no-named partition that Ubuntu is now on. Windows knows there is a partition there, but doesn’t recognize the type file system.

Did this test with a test SSD the same size as the main WIN10/Ubuntu SSD on ‘Ace’ the Laptop. Just did temp installs of both OSes for this post and the pics. Switched the SSD’s after testing. Had purchased another Windows Pro OEM license Key Code for the same $11.74 that I mentioned in a previous post, but for some reason the new Acer laptop didn’t allow me to select Windows 10 Pro – it wasn’t even offered, i.e. it would only do the Windows 10 Home install (that came with Acer), which is what I used for the testing, so I never activated it (looks like my early planning for a smaller computer build is moving along without me – i.e. I’m still in the searching stage for lowest priced mini small to small form cases). Maybe it’s an Acer thing or laptop thing or even a new Desktop/Laptop thing that Microsoft has recently done – but the Windows 10 installation media (DVD and USB) wouldn’t offer other selections on Acer, but it did on 2 quick tests on other computers I have. I also attempted to do the same tests with WIN7 on an updated and modified 2006 Dell computer, but the WIN7 disc was just too old and I couldn’t update it because I had already upgraded that license to Windows 10 a few months ago – also had updated all my backup HDD’s and had wiped out the old WIN7 backups I had. Licensing is a biggie with Microsoft’s OSes and Office products, so I don’t try to screw them, which would cause me problems also. I have a page on doing ‘Linux *Alongside* Windows OSes’ so I know that old Dell has had WIN7 and Ubuntu together…as in “Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 7” option, and I ended up having to fix MBR. If you have an old laptop with WIN7 on it, then you could back it up and try the same method used here for the Windows 10/Ubuntu test. Anyway, I recommend just upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 10 whilst Microsoft allows it to still be free.

Rule of Thumb – if you can’t install Ubuntu on it, then you can’t install any Linux Distro on it.