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Ubuntu on Acer Aspire Switch 10

Ubuntu on Acer Aspire Switch

The problem

What's the problem with this tablet? Why can't I just insert the USB and mash F12 until it boots? The tablet is made to run Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 only. Because of the stupidity that is UEFI (specifically it's "Safe boot" feature) we can't just boot from any USB stick we want.

Also, because someone thought putting a 32-bit UEFI on a 64-bit system was a good idea.

NOTE: This guide focuses on installing Ubuntu alongside Windows. If you're trying to replace Windows, then I assume you know enough about Linux to know which parts to change.

What works:

  • Keyboard
  • Trackpad
  • Touchscreen

What doesn't work:

  • Screen brightness (always max)
  • Sound
  • HDMI output
  • Micro SD reader (read only)

NOTE: The Acerium project by AndyLavr has a few more features working, but I haven't had much luck with it myself.

Requirements

Before you start, there's a few things you need:

  • USB flash drive (at least 4GB)
  • USB OTG adapter
  • USB Keyboard (not needed since 16.04)
  • USB Hub
  • A lot of coffe, because it's gonna be a long night
  • USB WiFi or Ethernet card (that supports Linux) (can be done without)
  • Rufus
  • Ubuntu ISO 64-bit (tested with 15.04, but anything with kernel 3.19 or higher should work)

Preparing the USB stick

Installing the ISO

  1. Open Rufus
  2. Select the correct USB Stick
  3. Select "GTP for UEFI computers" as the partition table (if available)
  4. "Select the Ubuntu 64-bit iso
  5. Click "Create"

Building the 32-bit UEFI GRUB bootloader

If you trust me, you can just download the file here, but remember, downloading binaries from random strangers on the internet is not a good idea. I do promise there are no viruses in it.

To build GRUB, run the following commands in a Linux shell (VirtualBox?):

# Install build dependencies and tools
sudo apt-get install git bison libopts25 libselinux1-dev autogen m4 autoconf help2man libopts25-dev flex libfont-freetype-perl automake autotools-dev libfreetype6-dev texinfo autopoint
# Clone the GRUB repo
git clone git://git.savannah.gnu.org/grub.git
cd grub
# clone gnulib, run autogen etc.
./bootstrap
# Configure GRUB
export EFI_ARCH=i386
./configure --with-platform=efi --target=${EFI_ARCH} --program-prefix=""
make
cd grub-core
# Build the GRUB image
../grub-mkimage -d . -o bootia32.efi -O i386-efi -p /boot/grub ntfs hfs appleldr boot cat efi_gop efi_uga elf fat hfsplus iso9660 linux keylayouts memdisk minicmd part_apple ext2 extcmd xfs xnu part_bsd part_gpt search search_fs_file chain btrfs loadbios loadenv lvm minix minix2 reiserfs memrw mmap msdospart scsi loopback normal configfile gzio all_video efi_gop efi_uga gfxterm gettext echo boot chain eval

This will create a file called "bootia32.efi". Copy that file to "/EFI/Boot/" on your flash drive.

Booting from the USB

  1. Open the "BIOS" (F2 when you see the Acer logo)
  2. Under "Security" set a supervisor password
  3. Under "Boot" set "Secure boot" to disabled
  4. Set the USB stick to boot first
  5. Press F10 to save changes and reboot

Installing Ubuntu

  1. The laptop should automatically boot into GRUB
  2. In the GRUB menu choose "Try Ubuntu without installing"
  3. Open the terminal and run ubiquity --no-bootloader to start the installer
  4. When prompted, select "Something else" to manually partition the drive
  5. Add a root (ext4, "/") and swap (swap, "swap") partition
  6. Finish the installation and hope for the best

##Booting Ubuntu In order to boot the Ubuntu we just installed, we need to use the USB GRUB again. Just let the laptop automatically boot from the USB. When in GRUB, press C to open a command line. Run the following commands:

set root=(hd1,gpt5)
linux /vmlinux root=/dev/mmcblk0p5
initrd /initrd.img
boot

If it doesn't work, try with /dev/mmcblk1p5 and/or remove the SD card.

Permanently installing GRUB

Obviously we can't use the USB GRUB to boot forever. Let's install GRUB: Open the terminal and run the following commands:

# Get the 32-bit UEFI GRUB package
sudo apt-get install grub-efi-ia32 grub-efi-ia32-bin 
# Mount your EFI partition 
mkdir /boot/efi # if the dir already exists, skip the mount command
sudo mount /dev/mmcblk0p1 /boot/efi
# Install GRUB
grub-install --target=i386-efi --efi-directory=/boot/efi/

If the grub package doesn't exist, you can compile it yourself like this:

# Get build dependencies
sudo apt-get install autoconf
# Get the GRUB source
git clone git://git.savannah.gnu.org/grub.git
# Compile 32-bit UEFI GRUB
cd grub/
./autogen.sh
./configure --with-platform=efi --target=i386
# Install GRUB
sudo grub-install --target=i386-efi --efi-directory=/boot/efi/

Adding GRUB to the bootloader

Reboot the laptop and press F12 to go into the boot menu. If you see an option called "ubuntu" and it works, you can skip this part.

  1. Go into BIOS
  2. Under "Boot" set "Secure boot" to enabled
  3. Press F10 to save changes and reboot
  4. Go into BIOS again
  5. Under "Security", click "Add trusted executable"
  6. Navigate to *\HD0\EFI\ubuntu* and select grubia32.efi
  7. Enter the name for the bootloader entry and press OK
  8. Press F10 to save changes and reboot
  9. Go into BIOS for the last time
  10. Under "Boot" set "Secure boot" to disabled
  11. Press F10 to save changes and reboot

You should not see the entry in the boot menu (F12)

Making things actually work

Wireless

BRCM80211

I don't have it so if someone got it working, please comment below so I can add it

RTL8723BS

The drivers for this card have been merged into the kernel. Use these instructions only if your Wi-Fi doesn't work!

If you don't have a USB Wi-Fi card, you can clone/download the repo on your PC and transfer it with a flash drive. Then open a terminal in the folder and run the last 2 commands.

# Clone the driver repo
git clone https://github.com/hadess/rtl8723bs
# Build and install the driver
cd rtl8723bs
make
sudo make install
sudo modprobe r8723bs

If it doesn't work immediately, reboot.

Keyboard (not needed on new versions)

To make the keyboard work you need to modify the kernel source and recompile it. Before compiling the kernel, open the file include/linux/hid.h and change the value of MAX_HID_USAGES (default is 12288) to 65536 (On aproximately line 346). Then compile and install the kernel.

To see how to do this, read my other guide.

Sources

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