So, it turns out the software on my new PC was a house of cards… All it took to destroy basically all of it was a small nudge. Let’s discuss what I did wrong, and how you can avoid it.
First of all, you’ll need to understand my dual-boot setup, and I describe that over here. If you don’t read that section (under the heading Operating System), this post won’t make sense to you.
So what did I do wrong? Well, quite a bit, actually. When I first installed a Linux distro, I chose LMDE, like I always do. But LMDE didn’t appreciate my Nvidia GPU and booting to a disk formatted with BTRFS. So I decided to switch back to standard Mint instead.
But what I didn’t do was format the ESP partition to clear it out. So, as far as my UEFI thought, I still had LMDE installed – you’ll see why this sucked in a moment.
So, I installed Linux Mint standard and everything went well. Then, I moved on to installing Windows 10. This is where things really went down south.
So, for one reason or another, my motherboard has the stupidest feature – or perhaps “feature” is a better description. You don’t need to enable legacy boot in the settings, like with most UEFI’s. Instead, there’s a “system” of some sort, that allows you to boot to legacy disks directly via the boot override menu, so long as either 1) It’s on an external disk like a USB or 2) There’s no other UEFI mode disks on the system.
As you may have guessed, I installed Win10 from a USB, see where I’m heading? I accidentally booted to the USB in legacy mode, and thus Win10 installed in legacy mode, too. This wasn’t a problem initially, as GRUB booted the legacy disk without any complaints, but my motherboard wouldn’t, which would become a problem.
At some point, I was trying to tweak GRUB to get something working the way I wanted, I think I was editing files to prevent GRUB from overriding my settings. Doing so, however, broke my GRUB install. So at this point, I couldn’t boot Linux and my GRUB wasn’t working to boot into Windows that way, so I tried to boot Win10 directly from my UEFI by using the boot menu. But it wasn’t working, it kept skipping the Windows disk entirely and going back to the Linux disk. No errors were shown which was very cofusing.
So, at this point, I have a new machine, and neither of my OS’s are booting. Uh oh 😮 I started by reinstalling Linux, as I hadn’t installed all my programs and transferred all my files yet, anyway. So I reinstalled Mint and GRUB worked again – but now Windows 10 didn’t show up in the menu. No matter what I tried Win10 would not come up, but all my files were accessible via Linux so I know the disk didn’t go bad.
I’m still not sure exactly why Win10 wouldn’t boot at this point, but nonetheless it wouldn’t. So I eventually realised that all my games (large downloads) were installed on the extra 1tb SSD, which I could just leave untouched during the installation. Which meant I didn’t need to re-download them and made reinstalling Win10 not a big deal so I decided to cut my losses and reinstall it. I realised it used to be installed in legacy mode at this point, because I had to reformat the disk to the new GPT style, which is required for UEFI but incompatible with legacy BIOS systems.
After a few hours of Windows updates (btw, Microsoft, please for the love of all things gamer, sort out updates & especially the Microsoft store), everything was restored. The only trace of there ever being a problem now is that my extra 1tb SSD doesn’t support apps from the store now because the old apps are still on it & it won’t let me delete the folders.
So, be careful when installing OS’s, I guess 😆 And watch out for motherboards with stupid features.