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Thread: Can't boot Surface Pro 7 off USB for Ubuntu install

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2024

    Can't boot Surface Pro 7 off USB for Ubuntu install

    Hi all.

    I've got a Surface Pro 7 that's getting a bit long in the tooth. I've read that various Linux distros run well on it. Ubuntu in particular has quite a
    few detailed set-up guides. So I decided to give it a shot.

    The problem is, the Surface won't boot from a USB key. The UEFI/BIOS is set to boot from USB first, before anything else. I've tried:

    -- 5 different USB keys (various sizes (apparently 64GB don't work) from 32GB down to 8)
    -- writing the Ubuntu ISO to the key using balenaEtcher, Rufus, and the dd command from a command prompt in a Linux virtual machine.
    -- setting the security setting in the Surface's UEFI/BIOS to off and third party (not Microsoft Only)
    -- turned off all other boot devices, so that it ONLY tries booting from the USB
    -- openSUSE Tumbleweed instead of Ubuntu
    -- Windows 11 (for poops and giggles, just to see) instead of Linux
    -- turned on the Surface normally, and while holding the down volume button.

    I've searched, to no avail, various Ubuntu, Linux, and MS Surface threads for tips. Including a detailed post on git
    called "Linux Surface." Lots of useful stuff. None of them, however, addressed a Surface NOT booting off USB. They
    all assume that that part's a given.

    Nothing works. It just sits there with the white Surface/Windows logo on a black screen, like it's mockingly judging me, until I eventually
    turn it off. I've left it like that for as long as an hour, just to see if the thing would figure out what I wanted it do do.

    How on earth to I get the thing to actually boot off USB and into the Ubuntu installer?

    (a copy of this post was also posted on Microsoft's Surface support forum, but I'm not sure if I'm expecting anything)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Ubuntu 24.04 Noble Numbat

    Re: Can't boot Surface Pro 7 off USB for Ubuntu install

    Ministry of Guesswork responding:-

    Access UEFI settings
    Disable Secure Boot
    Disable TPM
    Disable other security settings (if they exist)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Third rock from the sun.

    Re: Can't boot Surface Pro 7 off USB for Ubuntu install

    try restarting windows while holding the shift key. hold shift key and then click restart.
    this will restart windows in recovery mode.

    choose boot from other devises .. highlight the USB drive and press enter.

    this should bypass the normal/standard boot restrictions ..
    Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws. (Douglas Adams)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2024

    Re: Can't boot Surface Pro 7 off USB for Ubuntu install

    Hey. Thanks for the reply... Unfortunately, if you reread my original post, I've already tried all those things. Or as many of them as exist. The UEFI security settings, and UEFI settings in general on the Surface Pro 7 are rather limited. So it's not hard to go through them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2024

    Re: Can't boot Surface Pro 7 off USB for Ubuntu install

    Yup. Tried that already, too. Forgot to mention it in my original post, maybe? Whhen I go that route, it just sits there with a Windows/Surface logo on the screen, doing nothing, until I eventually power it off. The record is 20 minutes.

    The weird thing is that I installed Ubuntu on this thing about a year ago, but went back to Windows because the instructions I found at the time for getting Ubuntu working properly on the thing were a hot mess.

    So this SHOULD be possible. It's driving me nuts.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Re: Can't boot Surface Pro 7 off USB for Ubuntu install

    Did you try the various methods to boot from USB referred to at the microsoft site at the link below? If so, what happens?

    The weird thing is that I installed Ubuntu on this thing about a year ago
    Your notes from that install are no help?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Re: Can't boot Surface Pro 7 off USB for Ubuntu install

    Some notes I was putting together to get to get the boot order and settings.

    Machine Specific Problems Getting into UEFI Settings and the UEFI boot Menu

    This section has nothing to do with Ubuntu, but there may be problems simply
    getting into your machine's UEFI Settings or selecting a USB to boot. Since
    every machine is different, consider the following an outline of things to
    try to gain control of your machine.

    Getting to the UEFI Settings (formerly known as BIOS) or to the UEFI boot menu
    (select a device or OS to boot) should be some machine specific key at
    power-up (described below). When this does not work, try these suggestions.

    Ensure the Windows Fast Start (some Windows power option) is off. This
    settings may be pretty well hidden in the Windows Settings. Older Windows may
    have the Settings/Power Options page with an "enable all settings" and
    "advanced settings" to bring up the necessary checkoff button to turn off Fast
    Start. For Windows 11 23h2, it is easier to start the Control Panel (type in
    "control panel" in the run/search bar), then select the System/Security
    section and then select the Power Options -- again enable all the controls,
    then the Fast Start will show if it is checked off. When not "enabled", the
    checkoff does not show, so you might think Fast Start is off when it is on.
    Windows may reset this when it updates, so you might need to periodically turn
    off Fast Boot again.

    Check the UEFI Settings (f2,...) for a "Fast Boot" (select "normal", not
    "fast") or a time to alter to give yourself enough time to acutally type the
    UEFI Settings or Menu key. If this is already set to "fast" it may be tricky
    to get into the UEFI Settings to change it. Hold the (F2 ?) key down on power
    up, or type it repeatedly. If that fails, try shutting Windows down by holding
    Shift, then use the "restart" selection from the power button. A screen should
    offer you the option to run UEFI Settings.

    Setting the boot order should be possible from the UEFI settings, but some
    vendors may require you to set a password to access that function. Some
    vendors may require to you set "Trust" on the Ubuntu bootloaders (grubx64.efi
    or shimx64.efi).

    Some machines may have a UEFI Setting which controls how a function key is
    interpreted (do you have to hold down another FN key to enable the F2 key).

    The Boot order may change when USBs are removed or changed. Windows may be
    moved up to the first postion when this happens. Windows itself may change the
    Boot order. Sometimes the USB needs to be present at shutdown to be made
    available as a boot option at power up. After a change, it may be necessary to
    make a full shutdown before reboot to make the changes permanent. Some
    machines have a two level boot order: First level might be :"USB
    CD/DVD.USBhdd,hdd, network" and the second level might be for "UEFI hard
    disks" (which might just include the USB hdd and put it last).

    Ubuntu offers efibootmgr, which should be able to change UEFI boot order, but
    some machines require such changes to be made only in UEFI Settings.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2024

    Re: Can't boot Surface Pro 7 off USB for Ubuntu install

    Use Ubuntu's startup disk creator application. All other methods, including dd, failed for me.

    Also remember to turn off secure boot or enable "third party" CAs in BIOS.


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