Ubuntu – Dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 8 – no operating system found


I am struggling to finalize my attempt to run Ubuntu 13.10 alongside Windows 8 on my new Sony Vaio Pro. After long hours of research I feel I am stuck.

I was booting from a USB, let me outline what I did (apologies if it's too detailed)

Before the installation:

  • deactivated Secure Boot
  • stayed in UEFI boot mode
  • deactivated Fast Startup

Initially, when I booted from the USB (in the EFI mode), I got a kernel error right away. Then I:

  • pressed e to enter grub after booting
  • added in grub libata.force=noncq at the end of the line starting with linux.

This solved the problem and the installer could run. (Apparently it has something to do with the SSD.)

During the installation I created three partitions, all of them as logical partitions, the first two as EXT4.

⠀/root (10GB)
⠀/home (40GB)
⠀swap (2GB)

I know I should avoid having two /boot/efi partitions, so I just left the Windows 8 one as it was.

The installation finished successfully. Afterwards, the computer would boot into Windows 8 straightaway. I used the Live USB to install Boot Repair and followed the instructions given by community/Boot-Repair

Once running Boot repair, the pop-up window said there were WinEFI files detected, and asked me whether I would like to proceed via changing them or not. During the first trial, I said "yes". The link produced was: http://paste.ubuntu.com//6726194.
After that even Windows 8 stopped booting, and the error is that no operating system was found.

As suggested by the Boot repair program itself, I went through the procedure again, and this time I pressed "no" when prompted about the WinEFI files. The link produced was: http://paste.ubuntu.com//6726299. Unfortunately, again it didn't help and I can't boot either of the operating systems. The computer either suggests recovery for Windows or entering BIOS.

I tried changing the booting options to Legacy from UEFI, but this didn't help.

I would be really grateful for any hints.

Best Answer

Your configuration is very strange, and your Boot Repair outputs indicate that you've omitted many critical details from your summary. Most importantly:

  • You've converted the system from having a GUID Partition Table (GPT) to having a Master Boot Record (MBR) partition table. (I'm assuming it had GPT initially because you said it's a new computer; almost all computers that ship with Windows 8 or 8.1 use EFI and GPT.) The use of MBR has significant implications for all your OSes. Most importantly, Windows will boot from an MBR disk only in BIOS/CSM/legacy mode.
  • Sometime between your two Boot Repair runs, you repartitioned and installed the Clover boot loader, and perhaps a Hackintosh setup.
  • You don't have a proper EFI System Partition (ESP), although your /dev/sda1 is close. To be an ESP, it needs to have an MBR type code of 0xEF, not 0x0B. Even with this change, though, some EFIs might not recognize the ESP as such. (OTOH, some might use it just fine as it is now -- this is an area that's not well-documented or well-tested.)

Basically, a setup like yours is so far from the norm that you can't count on a tool like Boot Repair to handle it properly. You'd need to be an expert to get it to work. In fact, speaking as such an expert (I maintain the rEFInd boot manager), I wouldn't touch that configuration. Instead, what I recommend is:

  1. Wipe the partition table clean and create an empty GPT setup.
  2. Create a 550MiB ESP and whatever other partitions you care to create at this time. (You can instead leave some or all of the remaining partitions to be created by their respective OS installers, though.)
  3. Install Windows in EFI mode.
  4. Install Ubuntu in EFI mode. See my Web page on such installations and the Ubuntu wiki on EFI installations for guidance.
  5. If you want to triple-boot with a Hackintosh, you can set it up at this time, but I can't offer much advice about EFI-mode Hackintosh boot loaders. Ask about this on a Hackintosh site. If you need to use a BIOS-mode Hackintosh boot loader, though, you might find rEFInd useful for launching the Hackintosh boot loader. rEFInd can boot a BIOS-mode boot loader if you uncomment the scanfor option in refind.conf and include hdbios among its options. I'd hope that there'd be a native EFI-mode Hackintosh boot loader by now, but I've not kept up with Hackintosh developments.

Alternatively, you could use a strictly BIOS/CSM/legacy-mode boot with an MBR. This is likely to be more familiar, but the world is moving quickly towards EFI and GPT, and OS X might work a little better with GPT.

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