Booting Kubuntu on a Surface Pro: Success

 History:

I bought a Surface Pro in 2013 for ~$1400 mainly because of the touchscreen. Was told when I bought it it had a ~8hour battery life. I wish! I wanted to return it but didn’t. As a laptop it’s basically unusable: the battery life is terrible and the placement and operation of the power button makes it too easy to turn it on whilst in a bag. Instead I’ve plugged it into a external screen and a powered USB hub with separate keyboard and mouse. I turn off the surface’s screen and just use the second monitor. In this configuration it works quite well. Aside from the battery life – which is enough to take the surface to the nearby printer and back – my main complaint is the 128Gb storage.

I played around with dual booting two or so years ago and I got Ubuntu up and running. It was booting fine but after a Windows update Ubuntu stopped booting.

Eventually I decided to ditch Windows and go full GNU/Linux on the Surface Pro.

Aim:

To single boot *ubuntu on a Surface Pro.

Method:

Make live USB and install Ubuntu (or Ubuntu Studio) as primary OS overwriting windows. Later use VMware to run Windows (10?) for programs I need Windows for.

Results:

Installation went fine. On reboot the Surface Pro only booted into tpm settings black screen. Could boot from a live USB if one was inserted. Couldn’t work out how to boot Ubuntu from the hard drive. At this point I thought I might have broken my machine, the only thing I could boot was a liveUSB.

Since I didn’t have a Surface Pro recovery disk there wasn’t much I could do. I went online and on the microsoft website I found a recovery image. The problem was that the download link was behind a login and the download kept getting an error part way through. It was about 7Gb and there was no way I could see to resume the download. I must have tried 7 or 8 times to download that file. Late one night I decided to have another go and managed to successfully download the Surface Pro recovery drive file. From there I copied the recovery files to a USB and used that to reinstall windows. Bye bye gnu/linux!

I got busy setting up Windows again so I could make some music using Maschine and Ableton Live. I still wanted to try gnu/linux again though. Partitioned c:\ to make room for Ubuntu. Installed Ubuntu using new partition creating a swap partition at the same time. Installed efi to /dev/sda2.

Ubuntu wouldn’t boot though! :sadface:

Tried reinstalling: no dice.

Tried rebooting into the troubleshooting mode and booting from ubuntu but no luck.

Not really wanting to mess around with boot partitions I left it there and searched for a workaround.

Eventually I came across easyUEFI and late one night I tried altering the boot order. I also tried mounting the EFI partition and making sure the grubx64.efi file was there (it was there in a ubuntu directory).

After a  lot of searching online I decided the next step was to try boot-repair. I booted into the live USB disk and ran kubuntu off the USB. I installed boot-repair and ran it but on finishing it said the efi parition (/dev/sda2) was locked. As per online suggestions I made sure it was unmounted which didn’t seem to help. Same error message. Eventually I followed boot-repair’s suggestion and created a new efi partition (200mb FAT32) with a boot flag. I put it as early as I could which was at the end of my ~80Gb windows partition I didn’t want to mess with the first two partitions (the first one was labelled a recovery drive ~1Gb and the next was /dev/sda2 the EFI partition). Ubuntu had definitely installed stuff on //dev/sda2/ as there was a ubuntu folder.

I ran boot-repair telling it to look for the efi bootloader on the newly created /dev/sda9, but I got the same error message.

Eventually I gave in and tried rEFInd which I saw mentioned somewhere. I booted into the kubuntu live usb and installed rEFInd after mounting /dev/sda2 as /boot/efi. It installed. I rebooted and was left with a bunch of boot options! Looks good! I chose one of the first ubuntu partitons and it booted!

The instructions that worked for me:

First boot into a live OS.

$ sudo mkdir -p /boot/efi
$ sudo mount /dev/sdXN /boot/efi

where sdXN is your efi partition, eg sda2 in my case. If you don’t know the values of X and N for your system then fire up gparted and look for the partition with a boot flag.

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:rodsmith/refind
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install refind
$ reboot

Future Plans:

I’m going to investigate whether I can run (at a reasonable speed) Maschine and Ableton Live in a Windows 10 virtual machine using VMware Workstation Player 12. If I can then I can get rid of my Windows install and just use VMware under Kubuntu.

tl:dr

Tried installing Ubuntu on a Surface Pro. Install worked but Ubuntu wouldn’t boot. Using liveUSB I installed rEFInd as per these instructions: . On reboot I could boot to Kubuntu.

Booting Kubuntu on a Surface Pro: Success

Updating Life

I’ve been feeling much more positive about life recently, though there’s still not so good days. I don’t know what to put it down to, but here’s a few things that help.

You Feel Like Shit

You Feel Like Shit is interactive flowchart that helps with self-care. Starting with food, water, medication and sleep needs it spurs self-care and problem solving around the difficulties in life.

The Pomodoro Technique

Is a productivity technique where you work for a specified period of time (personally from 15 – 25 minutes) then rest for a short period (I use 5 minute breaks) then repeat. After (say) 4 cycles you take a longer break (15 minutes in my case).

I like this way of breaking up time, and the reliance on the clock means I keep working until the break – which can mean pushing through lulls in attention. There are many apps that automate this process, the one I use is Productivity Challenge Timer on Android (Free with paid Pro upgrade).

Studying in Maths and Science

This helpful book has good advice for studying even beyond STEM subjects.

  • The brain can be thought of as having two thinking modes: focused and diffuse. The focused mode involves linear thought and is necessary for learning facts and ideas.  The diffuse mode is non-linear and creative and integrative. The diffuse mode can use the knowledge from the focused mode to creatively solve problems. Both modes are necessary, and taking breaks from focused thinking can reward with creative solutions from the diffuse mode.
  • Write a to-do list for tomorrow and include a knock-off time.  To-do lists are so simple and can simply be a text file on the desktop of your computer. The satisfaction in crossing off an item on a todo list is real. Including a knock-off time builds in rewards and stops fatigue.
  • Recall don’t reread. Rereading a textbook chapter might seem like a good way of studying, but it’s better to also try and recall what you just read after reading it. That is to try and reconstruct the chapter by yourself.

Todo.txt

Thanks LifeHacker.

Meditation

I aim for 5 minutes a day, but am happy if I follow Susan Blackmore’s rule of sitting for any period of time: 3 breaths to 30 minutes. I meditate because I seek Awakening, but also to calm and focus the mind, to be aware of my body and surroundings, to process stress and trauma and to listen more deeply.

NoFap

It’s a polarising topic but I’ve struggled with pornography use for decades. It may be an uncomfortable topic to discuss but if you’re interested look into Your Brain on Porn or NoFap.

The Internet

I have had a shift of perspective to the internet. A big part of using the internet to me was pornography, and having suffered from psychosis I found the darker parts of the internet confronting. However, as a tool for research it is simply unparalleled. YouTube is a big place, one that will teach you how to use a fire-steel, loosen a drill with an automatic chuck, and pollinate vanilla beans by hand. Being on social-media can be tiring and I find myself interacting with people to a smaller amount than I would like, but realising that one is a brand and one can take charge of the perception of that brand may help you.

Self-branding

It’s early days yet, but I’ve begun a process of self-branding. This ranges from simple things like standardising my avatar across social media, to considering my Unique Selling Point, the (big) idea that sets my brand apart. Like it or not we are either letting others brand us, or we’re branding ourselves.

Formal Study

2016 was the year I returned to study, undertaking a rather expensive Graduate Certificate in Creative Industries. There is something very satisfying about formal study, beyond having access to a University Library and its attendant online materials. Seemingly everything can be examined and analysed. It may not be going to university or trade school but learning (as I did) music production on Coursera. Another highlight of the year was playing rosalind.info and learning a bit of python to solve bioinformatics problems.

Sleep Hygiene

Early days again with this one, and complicated by the medication I take but I’m trying to have better sleep hygiene. Limiting electronics use in bed, going to bed and waking up earlier, having a bed time, exercising more and restricting afternoon caffeine use.

Self-determination Theory (SDT)

A happy coincidence saw a pamphlet on self-determination cross my path. SDT refers to different things in different contexts but I refer to it in relation to mental illness. To me SDT appears to be about viewing oneself as a whole person rather than an illness or negative aspect, setting and striving for goals, and building a support network to achieve those goals. Find out more here.

How to Steal Like an Artist

A good read and very short.

Analogue/digital

Separating the creative process into analogue and digital components. Create using analogue, arrange and edit using digital. Be more hands on.

Bushcraft and Survival

I’ve spent this year slowly building a 72hour survival bag in case of Shit Hitting The Fan. The final test of the bag is to take it camping, which I plan to do at the end of next holidays. As part of training I’ve been hiking up a nearby hill and back most days. Doing this made me realise that the best form of exercise is something you enjoy doing.

This is me finally using this blog as something other than a storage place for recipes though it will probably serve that function too.

Peace

Updating Life

Nan’s Spaghetti

Brown one finely sliced onion. Add 500g minced beef (or mushrooms or quorn mince) and brown. Mix in one tin tomato sauce, two beef flavour stock cubes, a dash of mixed herbs. Gently simmer for about 30 – 45 mins, adding more water if needed. Mix in a pack of cooked thin spaghetti, top with grated cheese and bake.

RIP Olive

Nan’s Spaghetti

Channa Masala

I found this recipe many years ago somewhere on the Internet but I’ve never been able to find the source again. If you find it somewhere else online please let me know so I can credit it.

  • Chickpeas (1cup)
  • Onion (1medium finely chopped)
  • Tomato (1/2 finely chopped)
  • Tomato puree (1/2 tbsp optional it will only give a nice color)
  • Ginger garlic paste(1tbsp)
  • Chana masala (1 and ½ tbsp)
  • Coriander powder (1/2 tbsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/4 tbsp)
  • Red chili powder (1/2 tbsp optional)
  • Oil/ghee/butter (2tbsp)
  • Salt (as per taste)

Soak the chick peas over night in water. Boil it in pressure cooker. If you want the little brown color you can use some boiled tea water for soaking the peas. You can also use the frozen chickpeas available in the market. Take a pan add oil, when oil starts boiling add the onion and coriander, cumin powder, fry it till it turns to golden brown. Add ginger garlic paste and fry for two minutes. Add chopped tomato, tomato puree and half of chana masla and again fry it in a low flame till oil comes out from the masala. Now add the boiled chickpeas to the fried masala and mix it well. Add rest of the masala and fry it for two minutes. Add ½ cup of warm water and balance the salt according to your taste. And let it boil for three to five minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander if you want can add more butter for flavor, serve it with rice or chapati.

Channa Masala

Priyan’s Ceylon Daal

The first time I made this mum and I were blown away by how good it tasted. When I tried to recreate it again it was nowhere near as good, I think I fried the spices too long and caused them to go bitter. IT’s hard to know how much of the spices to put it, I’m still playing with the amounts myself. I’m enjoying playing with this recipe until I perfect it.

For two

  • yellow split peas
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 smallish onion
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • 2 tsps fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsps mustard seeds
  • coconut milk
  • curry leaves

Wash lentils and cook in water and tumeric powder. When almost cooked begin frying onions in oil then add garlic. Add fennel seeds, cumin, and mustard seeds and fry for two minutes. Add curry leaves and continue cooking for one minute. Add to lentils with coconut milk to taste and serve.

Priyan’s Ceylon Daal