Recently I have been trying to boot into Slackware on a new laptop that came pre-installed with Windows 8. I have successfully installed Slackware and Lilo, but I have had great difficulty trying to boot into it as the laptop contains no optical drive.

I have been attempting to boot into various systems I have on other USB drives. The only fully successful boot came from tinycore, and that is a pain to install grub (or any bootloader) from.

My current situation is trying to get it to boot using EasyBCD, and I can get to the (Windows) boot menu and select the created Slackware option, but after that it shows a windows MBR error.

Where would you recommend I go from here? Any help is appreciated.

  • I'm not really sure what exactly are you trying to achieve - booting through UEFI/eLILO or legacy BIOS+LILO? Do you want to keep the W8 accessible or can you remove it? – peterph Jun 10 '13 at 14:02
  • I am just attempting to boot into slackware. I would prefer being able to boot from grub, but at this point all I really need is to be able to dual boot w8 and slackware. – a sandwhich Jun 10 '13 at 18:06

First of all you need to make sure whether Windows 8 can boot with Secure boot disabled. If so, then Supposing the system uses the UEFI partition for booting, all you should need is installing elilo (EFI-enabled LILO), which is shipped with Slackware. All it does is copying kernel to the EFI boot partition.

If for some reason you need to use Secure boot, you either have to use the signed shim that loads GRUB (which in turn loads the kernel) or sign your kernel yourself and load the key into the UEFI (this usually is possible, but not widely used for obvious reasons).

In any case it might be a good idea to make at least partial backup of the HDD contents (ideally on device level).

As for booting without CD: if you happen to have another computer at hand, booting over network is usually not too difficult to set up - you just need a basic DHCP and TFTP server, e.g. dnsmasq (which is packaged in the Slackware tree; and there is some documentation on how to do it as well).

Another option is of course taking the HDD out, putting it into a machine with DVD, installing whatever you need and putting it back. It would also make it much easier to backup the drive.

Back to the problem: if you already installed Slackware, are just unable to boot into it yet you can boot some linux (from USB or network, even the Slackware install image) on the machine, just do so, mount the Slackware partition somewhere, bind mount the important stuff from the running linux there, chroot into it and do all the required things. Basically you need something along these lines:

mkdir /slackware
mount /dev/path/to/installed/slack /slackware
for m in dev dev/pts proc sys; do
    mount --bind /$m /slackware/$m
chroot /slackware
# optionally mount partition with your kernel,
# so that elilo can find it
# edit /etc/elilo.conf to your liking
for m in sys proc dev/pts dev; do
    umount /slackware/$m
umount /slackware
  • Is it possible to install elilo during the slackware install? – a sandwhich Jun 10 '13 at 22:51
  • Yes, it is in the "a" package group. I'm not sure though whether the installer is able to use it out-of-the-box. – peterph Jun 11 '13 at 9:05
  • Alright, turned out everytime I was installing lilo I would throw it on the wrong disk. Now that I have that fixed and have my bios in complete legacy mode, I can boot slackware. All I have to do now is add in a windows option to lilo, which I know how to do. Thanks for the help. – a sandwhich Jun 11 '13 at 14:14
  • If you happen to have some time, I would suggest trying UEFI (even without Secure boot) - it speeds up the boot (which on a laptop is usually interesting). The downside is that it doesn't allow one to change kernel command line, yet that is seldomly needed on a stable system. – peterph Jun 11 '13 at 14:22
  • How do you add slackware to uefi? I managed to mess up lilo again so after only booting slackware, I'm now only booting windows. – a sandwhich Jun 12 '13 at 2:10

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