I'm the only software developer in my family, so obviously I get the best laptop! Well actually that's a lie, I tend to use whichever fancy laptop my employer provides me with for work, and for my personal projects I inherit whichever of the kids' laptops has been most recently replaced.
My latest acquisition is an Acer Aspire E5-532, with 8Gb RAM and a 500Gb hard drive. It originally had a 1Tb hard drive but that died, presumably after being carried around school for several years by my son, so that needed to be replaced. Anyway, it's an improvement over the Toshiba I'm writing this on, so I decided to install Ubuntu on the new (well, ex-PS4 - don't ask!) disk.
This, is my story...
After creating a new bootable USB drive using Rufus, I inserted the USB stick into one of the Acer's ports, switched it on and repeatedly tapped F2 until the BIOS menu appeared. I went to the boot menu and changed the boot device order so that USB HD was in position 1, and then hit F10 to save the changes and restart. After installing Ubuntu, restarting, removing the USB key and letting the laptop power up again, I got a "No bootable device" error.
I tried a few things: I moved the HDD option to the top of the boot priority order menu. I switched the secure boot on and added passwords. Then I removed them. Then I tried the Legacy, rather than EUFI, boot option, then I reinstalled Ubuntu, all the while digging through the web to try to find the answer.
As is usually the case, the answer was there, it was just spread across multiple articles, and needed a bit of adjustment to make it really work. Now that I have managed to get things working, I thought it would be a good idea to publish it in case I needed it again.
To start with, you need to get the laptop ready for Ubuntu to be installed. This description is NOT suitable for if you want a dual boot machine - it's a guide for installing Ubuntu on an Acer Aspire E5 as the only operating system on a blank (or overwritable) hard drive. If you follow this guide to create a dual boot machine there's a good chance you'll lose some or all of your data. If this happens, don't even think of blaming me. You've been warned!
Anyway, start by creating a bootable Ubuntu USB stick using whichever OS you have available. Once the USB stick has been created, insert into the Acer laptop's USB port yet. Boot the Acer laptop, then repeatedly tap F2 until the boot menu appears. Make sure the following settings are configured, in the following order:
Network Boot: Disabled
F12 Boot Menu: Enabled
Wake on LAN: Disabled
Lid Open Resume: Enabled
D2D Recovery: Enabled
Boot Mode: UEFI
Secure Boot: Enabled
Set Supervisor Password - Set this to something memorable, you're going to be using it a lot
Password On Boot: Disabled
Restore Secure Boot To Factory Default - Hit Enter and answer Yes to this
Erase all Secure Boot Settings - Hit Enter and answer Yes to this
Boot Menu (again)
Move to the Boot priority order menu, and move the USB HDD: option to position 1
The most important thing out of ALL of those above is:
Erase all Secure Boot Settings
If you don't do this, you might find that the BIOS database (we'll cover that later) is full of outdated and useless entries. This caused me a lot of problems during my first attempts at installation, so don't miss this step.
Once you've set these and restored/erased settings as above, select F10 and confirm to save the changes to your BIOS and exit. The laptop will boot using the USB drive, and will give you the option of trying or installing Ubuntu. If you need to delete everything from your hard drive, select Try Ubuntu, then use the disk manager to remove all of the partitions on the hard drive. This will delete ALL of the data on the drive, there's NO WAY OF GETTING THE DATA BACK, so DON'T do this unless you really mean to. Once you've done this, you can select the Install Ubuntu option on the desktop.
If you started with a clean hard drive, and you're still at the Try Ubuntu or Install Ubuntu option, select Install.
In both cases, you can now follow through the installation procedure. As a guide, I don't usually use any of the advanced disk options - I'm running on a laptop, and I DO install the third party drivers. This is a part of the system that requires secure boot on the machine, but you set that up in the BIOS earlier. The installer will ask you to enter a password twice - use the same password that you entered for the Supervisor Password.
The rest of the install should be normal - add your network or WiFi as you wish, and then let the system restart when it eventually finishes installing. You'll be asked to remove the boot media before the restart, so pull out the USB stick and tell the system it's safe to reboot.
Normally at this stage your laptop would reboot into the new Ubuntu installation - if it does then congratulations! You don't need to read the rest of this article. If, as I think you probably will, you see the No Bootable Device error, then you have a little more work to do.
Restart the laptop, repeatedly tapping F2 to get back into the BIOS. When you get there, go to the Security menu and select:
Select an EUFI file as trusted for executing:
Hit Enter, and you'll be directed through the hard drive EFI file structure, one directory at a time. The options I used were:
grubx64.efi and hit Enter. You'll see a dialog box asking you:
Add an new file
Do you wish to add this file to allowable database?
Boot Description [ ]
Ignore the dubious text, and enter the word
grub into the Boot Description, before you select
Yes to confirm. The dialog will disappear and not tell you anything, but what has happened is that the
grubx64.efi file has been added to the database of files trusted by the BIOS.
Now move to the Boot menu. In the Boot priority order section you should see the grub file you just created in the list. It will probably be near the bottom, and will probably be slightly different - mine appeared as:
EFI File Boot 0: grub
In any case, move THIS entry to the top of the list, then select F10 to save the changes and exit (again!). The laptop will reboot, again, and will slowly work its way through to the normal Ubuntu boot screen.
That's it! Your Acer Aspire E5 will now run Ubuntu on boot-up. The whole problem is caused by the EUFI BIOS needing to be told which EFI file to trust so that it can boot. If it doesn't have one, then the disk will just appear as not bootable, hence the "No bootable device" error. If you've experienced the same problem, then hopefully this has fixed it for you too!