Ubuntu – Unable to install Ubuntu on Lenovo Y500


I am totally unable to install any flavor of Linux on my lenovo Y500.


  • with EFI on -> cannot even access installer
  • with legacy – > installer runs fine, but installed OS never boots

Long Version:

It is going to be hard to recap what I did, because I tried so many things, but here is the gist of it:

EFI mode (secure boot disabled):

Trial #1

  • ubuntu 12.10 x64 & Mint 14 x64
  • boot from usb
  • see screen with choices
  • pick "try ubuntu"
  • get black screen

Trial #2

  • ubuntu 12.10 x64 & Mint 14 x64
  • boot from usb
  • see screen with choices
  • press "e" to enter edit mode
  • remove "quiet splash"
  • replace with "nomodeset"
  • end up on the command line with an error message from x server: "no screen found"
  • try fiddling around with xorg.conf to no avail

Trial #3

  • Arch Linux Live USB EFI mode
  • no boot

Trial #4

  • ubuntu 12.10 x64 & Mint 14 x64
  • set "e" to enter edit mode in menu
  • add acpi=off
  • end up with "(initramfs) unable to find a medium" message

Trial #5

  • same as above
  • set SATA mode to legacy (it was AHCI)
  • error loop that says something along the lines of "ata1.00: hard resetting link"

Legacy Mode

Trial #1

  • ubuntu 12.10 x64 & Mint 14 x64
  • USB boot
  • Everything seems to work
  • Proceed to normal install (picks SSD drive by default)
  • Everything seems to work
  • reboot
  • blank screen
  • reboot with "shift" pressed
  • see message "grub loading." and nothing
  • As per advised on Ubuntu's community EFI page, run boot-repair
  • same results
  • run boot-repair again
  • same results

Trial #2

  • ubuntu 12.10 x64 & Mint 14 x64
  • same as above, but pick 1T HDD as target install
  • same results

Trial #3

  • create a /boot partition on the SSD
  • install on SSD
  • same results ("grub loading.")
  • run boot repair twice
  • same results

Trial #4

  • create a GPT filesystem on HDD
  • create a /boot partition on the HDD
  • install on HDD
  • same results as above

Trial #5

  • install ubuntu on HDD
  • install boot on all drives (HDD & SSD)
  • same results

Trials #6

  • install Arch on SSD
  • no boot loader found


  • Every step has been tried with multiple USBs.
  • All isos' MD5Sums have been verified
  • LiveUSBs have been created both through ubuntu's embedded app and unetbootin (save for Arch's live USB which was created by DDing the iso as per advised in the Arch wiki)
  • I have wiped out windows in my first trials, and I don't care, I am never going to use it. I don't want to dual-boot. I just want Ubuntu or Mint or Arch
  • as far as I can remember (it gets hard after 50+ trials), I tried every option with sata mode IDE or normal. Not sure though.

I've also tried numerous other things that I can't recall right now.

All in all I've been giving this 3 to 5 hours a day for a week and a half to absolutely no avail.

I am extremely disappointed as this is my first Lenovo and word is Lenovo is Linux-friendly…I have never spent more than an hour installing linux on any machine.

What's even more frustrating is that it seems to be working for some people, and I can't find any hint telling me how they managed. I wrote to one guy who posted a serie of youtube videos about how to get everything working perfectly on the Y500, and he told me he just installed mint without any problems. Might be I am a particular case because I have the SLI version of the Y500.

If anyone has pointers, incomplete solutions, ideas, black magic, I'll be forever in debt.

Thank you

P.S: This question, afaik, is not a duplicate of an existing question. I've scoured all questions containing "lenovo" and "install", and none applies to me.

Best Answer

This is how I enabled Ubuntu 13.04 to install alongside Windows 8 with a new (May 2013) Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 (1TB drive, dual NVidia GT 750M).

1) Download a copy of Ubuntu 13.04 x64 desktop ISO and install to a USB flash drive. (http://www.ubuntu.com/download) Create the USB install image following this guide (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/FromUSBStick)

2) Resize your Windows 8 partition using the built in Windows drive management tool. Just resize the partition down, don't create a new partition in the empty space as the Ubuntu installer will do that. (You may need to do a complete reboot for the resizing to take place.)

3) While still in Windows 8, edit the boot/grub/grub.conf on the new USB flash drive using Wordpad.

Change where it says "set gfxmode=auto" to "set gfxmode=1920x1080"

Under "Install Ubuntu", change "quiet splash" to "nomodeset=1"

So it should look something like this:

if loadfont /boot/grub/font.pf2 ; then
    set gfxmode=1920x1080
    insmod efi_gop
    insmod efi_uga
    insmod gfxterm
    terminal_output gfxterm

set menu_color_normal=white/black
set menu_color_highlight=black/light-gray

menuentry "Try Ubuntu without installing" {
    set gfxpayload=keep
    linux   /casper/vmlinuz.efi  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper quiet splash --
    initrd  /casper/initrd.lz
menuentry "Install Ubuntu" {
    set gfxpayload=keep
    linux   /casper/vmlinuz.efi  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper only-ubiquity nomodeset=1 --
    initrd  /casper/initrd.lz
menuentry "OEM install (for manufacturers)" {
    set gfxpayload=keep
    linux   /casper/vmlinuz.efi  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper only-ubiquity quiet splash oem-config/enable=true --
    initrd  /casper/initrd.lz
menuentry "Check disc for defects" {
    set gfxpayload=keep
    linux   /casper/vmlinuz.efi  boot=casper integrity-check quiet splash --
    initrd  /casper/initrd.lz

4) Install Ubuntu and choose the option to install Ubuntu 13.04 alongside Windows 8. Choose to install the bootloader onto your new Ubuntu partition.

5) After the install is complete, boot again with your USB and select "Try Ubuntu" and let it boot to the text console.

You will not be able to use this new Ubuntu install until you edit this grub.cfg as well. To do this, first mount this new partition, and then edit the grub.cfg as above in the Ubuntu editor of your choice (vi, nano, etc).

sudo mkdir /mnt/newinstall
sudo mount /mnt/newinstall /dev/sdb8
sudo vi /mnt/newinstall/boot/grub/grub.conf

(Same edits as listed in step 3. Also on my install Ubuntu was on the 8th partition /dev/sdb8. Yours may vary so check it first!)

** Note the file is write protected, so make sure you use ":w!" to write from vi.

6) At this point you should be able to boot your new Ubuntu, but you will only be greeted with a hopefully legible text console. The default VESA and nouveau drivers do not support the 750M cards. In addition the Ubuntu provided nvidia binaries are also too old and will not work. (Well I spent several hours without success trying to get them to work.) The solution:

Install the new drivers from NVidia! (please visit the NVidia website and find the relevant driver URL. I have listed the one current as of 2013-May-6):

wget http://us.download.nvidia.com/XFree86/Linux-x86_64/319.17/NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-319.17.run
sudo chmod +x NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-319.17.run
sudo sh ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-319.17.run
(follow the installer instructions)

7) You should now have both a functional Windows 8 and Ubuntu 13.04! I would love for the Ubuntu supported nvidia drivers to work, as any kernel Ubuntu updates will force me to have to re-install the nvidia binary drivers.

8) Choose your boot method. You can select "F12" while booting to choose what to boot. To set a default, hold "F2" while booting and you can reorder the boot priority.

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