Dual Booting the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15 with Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 13.10

The HP Sleekbook 15 was launched late in 2012 and if you get the Intel variant it comes with a 3rd generation Core ix processors (Ivy Bridge), offering good battery life for a 15.6″ laptop which is around five hours with average use or the AMD A series or processors. Graphics options are quite broad with either stock Intel HD Graphics 4000, AMD Radeon or nVidia GPUs. On some models there is even an option for a SSD drive although apparently you can’t install Ubuntu to thsi drive.

Much to my surprise you get s choice of pre-installed operating systems from HP:

  • Windows 8.x
  • Ubuntu 12.04LTS 64-bit – Certified by Cannonical, although this is only the Pentium Gen. 2 variant.

There are also touchscreen (Sleekbook Touchsmart) variants as well as 14″ screen versions making the model range quite extensive. Because all Sleekbooks are around 2cm thin, there is no room or a DVD drive and no external drive is supplied as standard. However, if you need one these are cheap to buy.

My own model is a Sleekbook 15-b052sa which was pre-installed with Windows 8 and uses a Intel Core i5 CPU (3rd gen) running at 1.7Ghz 8Gb RAM and now fitted with a 500Gb Seagate Momentus XT hybrid had disk drive replacing the stock 750Gb SATA drive.

As with all new computers they are supplied with the dreaded UEFI BIOS which adds aditional security to the computer whilst eliminating the traditional BIOS. For users of non-Microsoft operating systems and Microsoft ones before Windows 8 this has the potental of being an additional hurdle to jump. However, in reality this is not a deal breaker people make it out to be and is just different to the traditional way of installing an operating system with some additonal steps.

On my Sleekbook I set-up Kubuntu 13.10 64-bit to dual boot, with the only issue being the installer which did not give me an option to install Kubuntu alongside the existing operating system. This is a know bug in the 13.10 Ubuntu installer and the workaround is to manually create the partitions, not too difficult but a step which may be daunting to a new Linux user. There are a number of guides on the internet if you know where to find them although the Mint 16 Install Guide (Mint 16 is based on Ubuntu 13.10) makes a decent job of describing the process.

Note: If you do not want a separate data partition your Home folder will be located on the same partition as the operating system. In itself not a problem, but some people prefer t keep the two separate, and if you are using Mint this is recommended because unlike Ubuntu there is no official way of upgrading to a new version without a reinstall, so keeping data on a separate partition makes re-installation a lot easier.

The basic steps for setting up dual-boot using GRUB are as follows:

  1. Make your Windows 8 recovery USB Key/ DVD
  2. Backup Windows
  3. Resize your Windows Partition
  4. Create a boot-able Ubuntu USB drive using a downloaded ISO
  5. Deactivate in Windows 8.x Fast Startup and Secureboot in BIOS (press F10 on boot on HP laptops to access BIOS settings)
  6. Install your flavour of Ubuntu off the USB drive creates earlier (step 4) which will install GRUB
  7. Reboot off USB  drive and Run Boot-Repair. Why this is not pre-installed in Ubuntu is beyond me because when GRUB 2 breaks it’s a complete pain to fix. This utility is a Linux tool-kit must have!
  8. [HP Only] Once you have done the above you may still find that you do not get GRUB appearing. Apparently this is a feature of HP laptops, pressing F9 on boot will display a boot options menu and you can select Ubuntu from there and display the GRUB menu, otherwise the default boot option is Windows and this default can not be changed.

Despite step 8 above, I’m loving Ubuntu on the HP Sleekbook 15 as being Canonical certified, everything just works out of the box, has good battery life is vary fast especially with the hybrid drive I installed and because it’s a slim design the keyboard is easier to type on.


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