Can't get a Linux Live USB to boot and more...

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by honey46222, Jul 9, 2021.

  1. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    Hi!

    I'm tearing my hair out. Long story short I am now on week three of Windows 10 Hell. But here is why I'm in this topic. I don't want Windows 10!!! I am happy to stay with my own tweaked Windows 7 until it just won't work anymore. I have it on two older laptops. But I got bored....

    So I purchased this cute little Gateway 11" Notebook. It has been refurbished so it didn't cost an arm and a leg. It came preinstalled with Windows 10; and with the bare minimum of specs to run it. I wasn't expected a lot but I thought I might as well give Windows 10 a look-see.

    Gateway-GWTN116-1PR-11-6-FHD-Ultra-Slim-Notebook-7th-Gen-AMD-A4-9120E-APU-Radeon-R3-Graphics-2-4GHz-64-GB-eMMC-Storage-4-RAM-Windows-10-H ... (in S Mode) ...

    That was a nightmare in itself when an update killed my network driver, but that's a whole other story. I did get a working driver eventually in spite of the "S" Mode restrictions, which by the way, I couldn't opt out of until I got back online!

    So here's the deal:

    I'm trying to install Freespire or just about any Linux that I can actually get to install. If I can get anything to install then maybe I can replace it with Freespire. I have a history with Freespire from back in the day when it started out as Lindows, and I even paid for it. Microsoft objected. Now it's Linspire with the free version, Freespire. But back then I was also totally new to Linux apt-get this and apt-get that gave me a nervous breakdown so I went back to Windows. I have Linux-dabbled off and on through the years with Zorin, Kubuntu, Feren OS and probably a couple of others that I can't remember right now. I've used both Live and installed versions on a dual boot with Windows. So I'm not totally ignorant of how it works. But this new problem has me totally stopped in my tracks.

    Somehow, somewhere my boot has gotten messed up. Maybe I took out the Freespire Live USB too fast, thinking it has just frozen up. I don't know. Anyway, yesterday the Live USB would only boot to grub> _ what do I do now? Exit got me out and back into Windows.

    I spent most of yesterday trying to find something that might fix it. I've tried several grub> commands that seemed like they might help (from Google searches). No luck. I tried changing a bunch of stuff in the BIOS and in various combinations of changes, but I still end up in grub.

    I tried a Gparted boot USB and it worked! I think I had to use grub> exit a couple of times. But it came up. It got me to the partition tool, but nothing else would work like command or any other tools and options. So I tried just rebuilding the entire HDD. I tried both formatting and leaving it at unallocated. Nothing worked. On a lark I inserted my Windows 10 Recovery USB this morning and it booted up and actually reinstalled Windows 10. Great! I'll just start over and install Freespire from the live USB and let it overwrite everything.

    Not so fast. It still boots to grub instead of the Live USB.

    The Freespire Live USB is good. I've tested in my other laptop. The same with a couple of other Live USBs. None will boot on the Windows 10 notebook, but they are OK on my other laptops.

    What am I missing? Is there anything I can do? I am 76 so please don't get too technical and try to use small words. ;)

    I really don't want to be stuck with Window 10. It will take days to get enough of the bloat uninstalled so I can open more than two folders at a time. And the network is almost as slow as the old dial-up connections.

    (I'm sorry. This really didn't end up as a long story short; but it couldn't be helped.)

    I forgot my manners. Thank you.
     
  2. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    I need to update: If there is no USB attached then Windows boots to the EFI shell. Exit gets me into Windows 10. I've tried the BIOS changes (from Google) but this little notepad is so self contained I don't know if I could open it successfully to remove the battery. I'd forgotten about this since most of yesterday was spent on trying to install Freespire on the unallocated HDD.
     
  3. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    I VERY much might be wrong here. But I think a lot of little Distros won't Boot to their "Live CD" if the PC EVER had W10 on it. Like I said I might be wrong. Since you didn't mention which Distros you've tried. I suggest Mint, MX Linux, & Manjaro.
     
  4. drhu22

    drhu22 Registered Member

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    Not sure why, but this forum doesnt seem very good on helping to solve these kind of problems... all I usually get is crickets (maybe they want to stick to security moreso than problem solving as in your post). I read from one of the members here that Malwaretips can sometimes be more helpful so that might be worth trying.

    Anyways, I feel your pain and good luck!
     
  5. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    I did mention some I've tired. It was easy to miss. My story is long and convoluted. Also, the disks I've tried presently, including Freespire, do work on my other laptop.


     
  6. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I also belong to a Windows 10 forum but they might throw darts at me if I told them I only want to ditch Windows. lol!
     
  7. wat0114

    wat0114 Registered Member

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    @honey46222

    how did you create the bootable USB for Linux? Also what type of BIOS does you device use: legacy or UEFI? Not sure if it's the issue you have, but maybe try the following link if your BIOS is UEFI:

    https://www.ubuntudocs.com/create-bootable-ubuntu-usb-with-rufus-uefi/

    Download the free Rufus program to burn your USB, and scroll down to the instructions for: Create Bootable Windows 10 USB with UEFI.
     
  8. wat0114

    wat0114 Registered Member

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    There is a possibility if your notebook is UEFI BIOS, you will need to disable Secure boot in BIOS to launch the Linux USB. Freespire may not support Secure boot.
     
  9. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    Yes, I use Rufus. The BIOS is UEFI. Secure Boot is disabled.

    Create Bootable Windows 10 USB with UEFI

    Partition scheme: GPT.
    Target System type: UEFI.
    File System: FAT32.
    Cluster Size: select the 4096 bytes(Default).

    *Maybe* we are on to something. Rufus always defaulted to MBR so I just left it there. This is the first example I've seen to
    use GPT for Windows 10. Thank you. I'll post results later. It might be a couple of days. Busy weekend ahead.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2021
  10. Gringo95

    Gringo95 Registered Member

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    Did you enable persistence when this live USB was created?
     
  11. Gringo95

    Gringo95 Registered Member

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  12. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    No, I didn't use persistence. I did use persistence when I tried Kubuntu Live USB before one of the Windows 10 updates broke my network. None of my Live USBs had an internet connection after that either. It was some time before I found out that an update was the culprit. During all of this time it is possible I did something to mess up my boot while trying to fix the network connection.

    Actually that's how all of this began... searching for a network driver that I could install because "S" mode kept me from doing all sorts of things after I used my original recovery USB thinking it would fix my internet.

    It didn't and it actually put me back into S mode ... which meant I couldn't get online to activate and opt-out of S mode. And Device Manager kept insisting that I already had the correct driver installed.

    Basically I was in a loop between being crippled by "S" mode in what I could do (ie, no serious cmd for me and certainly no .exe files that didn't come from the Microsoft Store (if I could get there)... and trying to find a working driver that didn't annoy S mode when I tried to install it. I finally found the right drivers for my notepad that Device Manager would let me install by browsing to the folder it was in. That lasted 4+ days.

    So it has been a long 3 week journey. I left a lot of that and more out of my original story that I started with here because I thought I had it pretty much narrowed down to the grub thing. But maybe not. So, since I'm here...

    I might as well report that the Rufus Live USB with GPT doesn't work either.

    Because of some other things I've read in my searches, I am now beginning to wonder if I have somehow messed up my original Windows 10 partitions (and it carried over into the Recovery USB too). In short, the drives listed in my Disk Management do not look like the normal partitions created by Windows 10. But until this recent stuff with the Live USBs and getting the grub> at boot up, I always booted to Windows 10 fine so I didn't worry about it.

    I don't want to get too far off topic with this thread until I determine if a fresh CLEAN install of Windows 10 might fix the partitions; stopping the boot to grub> altogether. So I'm not going to post screenshots of the difference between what Windows 10 partitions should look like in Device Manager and what I see in mine right now. I'm going to try this first:

    I have spoofed my useragent in Firefox so I can get the truly clean (custom) install which will allow me (I hope) to delete all of the partitions as it goes through the steps of installation.

    If that doesn't fix it, then I don't know what will. I only know that the Live UBS's and my booting into Windows worked fine until the update broke my internet. From then on it was all downhill.

    I will take a look at etcher. Thank you.

    Edit: I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but I'm on my Windows 7 laptop doing my research and forum talk. In case anybody was wondering.
     
  13. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    I hate that I don't have up to date knowledge. So forgive me just trying to help. If you're Booting to Grub without a Linux OS I say your Boot partition got screwed up. Unless you decided to install Grub, which I think is a mistake. I've said it before but when M$ puts out a new OS (W10 I know it's 5yrs old) & or major updates M$ does so with the unstated purpose to make Linux harder/impossible/screw up installs. And the minor Linux Distros don't adjust & don't play well with W10 & hardware designed for W10.
     
  14. wat0114

    wat0114 Registered Member

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    I might have overlooked something here??

    @honey46222

    is your device booting to Grub> without the Live USB, or only with it?
     
  15. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    Only with the Live USB's. I will post new information in my reply to zapjb after this. I'm trying to keep things in context as much as possible. Maybe another "clue" has surfaced.

    Thank you for your help.
     
  16. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    Nothing to forgive, zapjb. I appreciate any help I can get.

    Something I discovered yesterday while poking around in Windows 10 Advanced Troubleshooting. I thought I'd see if "Use a device" would/could do anything to get the Freespire USB to boot up. Device is showing "UEFI: Built-in EFI Shell" and "ubunutu", which is what kubuntu is based on. ubuntu also shows up without an inserted usb.

    TBH, I can't remember if I actually had installed kubuntu or was still running it live. I can't tell from my earlier notes. But if I had installed it, I would have chosen to overwrite Windows 10 on the entire drive and let kubuntu do its own partitioning and setup. I haven't messed with dual booting in years.

    When my network broke after updating I assumed that my Windows 10 Recovery would put everything back to "normal". Silly me. lol!
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2021
  17. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    Everybody, I'm now in Freespire!!!! Using Etcher to make the boot USB did it!!! (Special thanks to @Gringo95)

    Thank you all so much for your help. I can't tell you how much I have appreciated it.

    honey
     
  18. wat0114

    wat0114 Registered Member

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    Great to see you got it sorted. I've always had success with Rufus, so I wonder what Etcher did differently to burn a bootable pendrive.
     
  19. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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    If this helps, here's my boot order with the Etcher USB.

    1. UEFI Verbatim 1M PMAP *(that might be IM not 1M ... sloppy penmanship.)
    2. UEFI Verbatim 1M PMAP
    3. Windows Boot
    4. Built-in EFI disabled

    I don't know why there were two options that looked the same. So I just put them in the boot order in which they showed up in the BIOS.

    Fast Boot and Secure Boot disabled.
     
  20. wat0114

    wat0114 Registered Member

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    Okay interesting, thanks. I confess to not knowing what the first two options mean, but all that matters is it worked for you.
     
  21. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    I too wonder what Etcher did.
     
  22. Stupendous Man

    Stupendous Man Registered Member

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    I cannot tell you. But Etcher seems to be quite reliable. That was also emphasized in the 2017 Dedoimedo Etcher review [1].
    I use Etcher for making Clonezilla and Kubuntu thumb drives and it works great.
    However, some think Etcher is bloated, and prefer something light, like USBImager. USBImager seems OK, but I haven't tried it.
     
  23. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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  24. honey46222

    honey46222 Registered Member

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  25. Gringo95

    Gringo95 Registered Member

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    No problem. Pleased it worked out for you. I test a lot of this stuff and as a third party tool I've found Etcher to be the most reliable. The ROSA Image Writer is also a reliable tool. ROSA is pretty much dead now but the writer is also included with ALT Linux. The in-house tool provided by Kantonix is also first rate so anyone using these distros won't need anything else. I'm sure there must be others, the MX tool for instance, but I've not used that or anything else to comment.
     
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