Ubuntu 12.10 + Windows 8 on Lenovo IdeaPad P400

BestBuy had this laptop (model 59360580) on sale last week for about $750.00. I wasn’t able to find a lot of information about it except for common complaints about the touchpad mouse. I don’t remember finding anything about running Linux on it. I went ahead and bought it anyway, since I didn’t want to waste any more time fretting that my T61P battery was not very useful anymore and wasn’t 8GB of DDR2 memory for my T61P ridiculously expensive and darn there’s another crack in the case and so on.

It booted Windows 8 reasonably quickly and the touch screen was easy to use, which was very fortunate because the really obscure, geeky things I had to do web searches to find out how to do, like running Add/Remove programs or turning the laptop off, were described in terms of touch screen gestures.

On to Linux… That is essentially:

  • Burn a 64-bit Ubuntu 12.10 DVD
  • Boot from CD-ROM by hitting F12 (that’s Fn + the key that says F12 but normally increases screen brightness) at the Lenovo splash screen and choosing CD-ROM from an ugly IBM PC-ish menu. (“EFI DVD/CD-ROM”)
  • At the Ubuntu boot prompt, choose “Try Ubuntu without installing”.
  • Click the install icon on the Ubuntu desktop.
  • Choose to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 8.
  • Adjust the drive space allocated to each OS. (The space to the left of the divider will be allocated to Windows 8 and the space to the right of the divider will be allocated to Ubuntu.)
  • At the end of the installation, reboot.

At this point I could choose Ubuntu from the Grub menu and it worked fine as far as I can tell, but Windows 8 failed to boot. This was repaired by following these instructions to install and use boot-repair.. I had to run it twice with a reboot to Ubuntu in-between, then it booted Windows 8. Before the second run of boot-repair I would get to the Grub boot menu by default but the Windows 8 selection failed.

Booting Ubuntu at this point was another mystery… The F12 BIOS boot menu (press Fn+F12 at the Lenovo splash) offered “Windows 8”, “ubuntu”, “Ubuntu”, and a couple of net boot options. By choosing “ubuntu” I then get to a Grub menu with lots of options. From the Grub menu I choose the first item — “Ubuntu” and Ubuntu actually boots.

At the moment I’m happy that I can boot both OSs and am most interested in transferring applications and data off a couple of old machines. Perhaps later I’ll investigate getting a nice boot menu.

So far I am having real problems adjusting to the touchpad mouse, but Ubuntu appears to be working fine. I haven’t yet tried every last piece of hardware, such as the SD card reader.