How to install Ubuntu on the Surface Pro

first_imgBooting from the Live USBYou will need to have a bootable copy of Ubuntu on your choice of USB or microSD in order to complete these instructions. For this tutorial, we will be using a USB drive. Follow our instructions here on how to create a bootable Linux USB drive if you are unsure of how to do this.Put your Ubuntu Live USB disk in the USB 3 port on the Surface Pro, and head back to the Settings menu on the Charm Bar. Navigate back to the General PC settings and boot into Advanced Startup. Tap the icon with the USB stick and the DVD labeled Use a Device one the Surface has booted into the Advanced settings.From here, you will be presented with a list of available boot options that are currently detected. Your USB disk will be clearly labeled in the list, and when you tap on the icon for your drive the Surface will reboot. From this point, you will no longer be in Windows, as you will be booting from the USB drive.When the Surface reboots, you’ll be greeted by impossibly small white text on a black background. The GRUB menu is prompting you to either install Ubuntu or boot from the Live USB and try it out for yourself before you install. As a rule, you should always try it out before you blow away your perfectly functional OS. Select try Ubuntu and wait while Ubuntu boots from the USB drive, which doesn’t take long at all. As long as everything installed on the USB drive correctly, you’ll find yourself looking at the home screen for Ubuntu.Out of the box, your stylus, touch input, and keyboard covers will work just fine. Your pen will not be able to right click, as Ubuntu does not recognize the button on the side of the stylus. WiFi does not work out of the box, so you will need to connect to the internet using a USB to ethernet converter to grab the Marvell WiFi driver. Once you are satisfied that Ubuntu is going to work they way you want it to, double click on the Install Ubuntu option on the desktop.Now what?You’ll notice out of the box that the 11.6-inch display on the Surface Pro makes things a little tiny and that the touch-friendly Unity interface isn’t particularly useful when everything is this small. Windows 8 got around this by scaling everything up 150% in the Desktop portions of the UI, and you’ll need to do something similar in order for Unity to be touch friendly. Because you’re scaling everything up so much, you may notice some UI issues when using some of the menus or the browser.You can adjust how high you want to scale things until you get where you personally prefer it. If you’re more interested in the real estate, and you don’t mind the small text and icons, you’ve got yourself a fine Ubuntu laptop with pen input.After that, it’s up to you, but know this: you have one of the slickest Ubuntu computers on the block! Geek.com will be following up this how-to with more Surface Pro coverage, including how to roll back your Ubuntu installation (not that you’d want to). Even if you’re not the biggest fan of Windows 8, it’s hard to deny that Microsoft’s Surface Pro is an impressive piece of hardware. Fortunately, as was confirmed recently by Microsoft’s Panos Panay shortly before it’s launch, you can install other operating systems on the Surface Pro. After unboxing my new Surface Pro this weekend and doing the initial tire-kicking, I decided it was time to see what else Microsoft’s first real PC could do. It was time for Ubuntu.When you examine the hardware in the Surface Pro, you realize that — compared to other ultrabooks on the market — it’s a pretty sweet deal. The system combines an Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge) CPU with 4GB of RAM and HD4000 graphics with the ability to use both touch and pen (pressure sensitive Wacom) inputs with an 11.6-inch 1080p display. There aren’t many other pieces of hardware on the market that can offer a similar specs sheet, and few come close to the $1,140 price point found on the Surface Pro (with a keyboard cover). The Pro incredibly portable with more than enough power to handle serious computing, even the occasional round of Diablo 3. Not bad right?For many people, however, there’s just no reason to use Windows anymore. If you’ve got the urge to check out Ubuntu on the Surface Pro, all you will need is a USB drive or microSD card to get started.Linux on the Surface ProFirst, if you’d like to return to Windows 8 at some point, you can back up the restore partition from your Surface Pro onto an 8GB or larger flash drive. Hit the search button and type in “Recovery Drive Backup”. There will only be two results in your search results, the first one being the one you need. This process takes about ten minutes, during which you’ll see s progress bar creep across the screen.Once you have created a recovery drive, you’ll be prompted to delete the restore partition. As long as you keep that flash drive safe, you’ll be able to boot from that drive and restore Windows 8 exactly as you had it when you first turned on your Surface Pro.Disabling Secure BootThere’s no need to jailbreak the Surface Pro, unlike its cousin, the Surface RT. UEFI has been plaguing Linux fans for a while now, but the Surface Pro comes ready to disable the Secure Boot feature.To do this, first swipe your Charm Bar in from the side and tap the Settings icon. You’ll need to tap the Change PC Settings at the bottom of the Settings sidebar. From the Settings panel under General you can choose to boot into Advanced Startup. Once your computer boots into the all blue menu with the large touch friendly icons, you’ll need to tap Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > UEFI Firmware Settings.This will reboot your Surface and take you to an all black screen with two options on it, Security Device Support and Secure Boot Control. Tap the space next to Secure Boot Control that is currently labeled [Enabled] and a menu will pop up prompting you to change it to [Disabled]. Once the menu reflects the correct setting you can tap Exit Setup and the Surface will reboot. You can also reach this menu if you hold down the Volume Up key on the Surface Pro while booting.Once Secure Boot is disabled, you will be able to install anything, regardless of whether or not it is signed. Disabling doesn’t have any other effect on your Surface Pro, and Windows 8 won’t behave any differently when you reboot the Surface. All this means is you won’t have any trouble completing the next step.Next page: Boot the Surface Pro from USB…last_img

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