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[Guide] Acer Triton 500 - Linux Install and Setup

RaizenRaizen Posts: 2Member New User
Hello after searching through these forums and others, I've noticed there is very little info about getting Linux up and running on the Triton 500 and the few threads that do exit talk about bad Linux support. I'm a new owner of the Triton 500 and new to the forums, I hope to share some of the knowledge I've acquired when Installed to Linux on my machine and hope it helps others looking to do the same. 


There are many models of the Triton 500 and some steps/drivers might differ from your model, please precede with caution when installing. For reference I have the Predator PT515-51, i7 9750H, RTX 2060, 16RAM and 512GB NVME.


We want to first backup your files and create a recovery USB for windows, you'll want to have a 16GB USB stick on hand for this. Even if you don't plan to dual boot with Linux, I highly recommend creating a recovery USB. If you want to dual boot, this step is a must since we will be wiping and reinstalling windows for the installation to work properly. If you don't have access to a second PC, you will need 2-3 USB drives; 1 16GB drive, the minimum 8GB and the 3rd at least 2GB (if you have access to a second computer, you only need 1 USB). If you don't have access to a second computer, you'll need to prepare 3 USBs before we begin;

Step 1
 1) use Acer Care Center to create a Recovery USB; If you are using the original windows installation that came with your PC, you will need a 16GB USB for this.
 2) **Optional** if you want to do a clean install of windows 10 without all the bloat that comes with the factory installation, Download the Media Creation Tool and use it to make a windows 10 installation USB.
 3) Finally you need to create a USB with your Linux distribution, I used Arch Linux but you can download the distribution you like.
**Note** if you have a second PC, you can get away with 1 USB stick and just use it to create the installer for windows or Linux when you need it.
**Note2** if you have a second PC and only one USB, you can backup your factory recover USB as image using Rufus and reuse the USB.

Step 2
Once you have your USBs and backups done, restart the laptop and go into the bios. We want to change three settings here.
 1) Change Sata Mode to "AHCI". By default the bios is installed in "RST Premium with Optane"
**Note 1** once you make this change, your windows installation won't boot, as it has to be in the same mode that it was using during installation.
**Note 2** I've heard some early models of the Triton 500 use 2x256GB NVME in RAID, you'll have to break your RAID if that's the case and use 1 for Windows and 1 for Linux but you do lose some of the speed you get with RAID.
 2) The next change you want to make in BIOS is go into security and "Erase all secure boot settings", if you don't do this, the pc won't allow you to boot from the Linux USB.
**Note** This option might be disabled/greyed out, if that's the case you will need to create an administrator password in the BIOS to enable this option.
 3) The last thing is Enable "F12 Boot Menu"; this was disabled by default on my machine so just make sure this is enabled.
**Note** if some of these options are not available on your PC, you might not be on the latest BIOS, so update your BIOS first


Now that we are ready to begin, We need to make some changes to the partition table on the NVME, this guide will use Arch Linux but you can look up the steps to do this if you use a different distribution.
1) Insert the Arch Linux USB you made and press F12, Your USB should appear as one of the boot options, select it.
2) Once the usb boots, type "lsblk" to see to storage drives connected to your pc; we want the drive that starts with nvme. In my case it is "nvme0n1",your drive id might be different.
3) Once you know the id, type "cfdisk /dev/yourid" in my case it would be "cfdisk /dev/nvme0n1". This will give you a list of partitions on your drive, mine by default had 4 partitions,
       1. 100MB EFI Partition
       2. 16MB Microsoft reserved Partition
       3. About 470GB NTFS Partition (This is your main C Drive)
       4. 1GB Recovery Partition (This is the Acer Recovery partition you can access by pressing Alt+F10 when the PC is off)
4) We need to make our EFI Partition bigger but we won't be able to do that without deleting partition 2 and 3. Don't touch Partition 4 the one labeled Recovery. While in cfdisk, highlight each of the first 3 partitions and select delete. You should now have Free space followed by the 1GB Recovery partition.
5) To create a new partition, highlight "free space" and select "New", for size, delete the numbers there, type "512M", hit enter, select primary and enter again. This will create a 512M partition from the free space. Next select the free space again and click new, this time we want a 16M partition and same as above. Finally create a partition using the remaining free space.
6) You should now have the same amount of partition as you had before,but the sizes will be a bit different, highlight "512M" partition and click Type, then pick "EFI System". For the 16M partition, do the same and pick "Microsoft reserved", you can leave the last partition as it is. Finally in cfdisk select "Write" to apply these changes and type yes when it asks for confirmation. 
7) Type "lsblk" again to check your partitions and make sure they were created properly; your readout should look like;
         1. 512M EFI System Partition
         2. 16M Microsoft reserved Partition
         3. 470G something Linux Partition
         4. 1GB Recovery Partition
If you can confirm the above 4 partitions, look for the partition id of the EFI partition, in my case it was "nvme0n1p1" and type "mkdosfs -F 32 /dev/nvme0n1p1" and type yes if it asks for confirmation. Finally type "shutdown now" to turn off the PC.
**Note** Just to explain what we did here, we need a larger EFI system partition for installing the linux bootloader and the 100MB partition that comes by default is not enough. While you can create and delete partitions using the windows 10 install USB, I noticed a problem when I tried to do it. The issue with doing it using the windows 10 USB is when you delete all the partitions and try to create a new one, Windows 10 will automatically create another Recovery partition for about 500MB at the start of the drive sector, followed by the EFI partition second, reserved partition 3rd and windows install partition 4th. This will leave us with 2 recovery partitions, the Acer one at the end of the nvme drive sector and the new one windows creates. Another problem is it makes EFI as the second partition whereas it's recommended practice to make the EFI partition as the first partition on the drive. I assume this is one of the ways Microsoft makes it harder to install other OS. This is why we created the partition table using cfdisk. Windows 10 installation won't create a recovery partition or EFI if it sees a EFI partition already there.

[Installing Windows]

Now that we have the partition table setup, we can install windows, I personally prefer a clean windows 10 without the bloat, if you do too, use the USB you made using the Microsoft Media Creation Tool. If you'd rather have the factory windows install, use the Recovery USB you made using Acer Care Center.
**Note** Make sure that in BIOS your Sata Mode is set to "AHCI" as mentioned above in the Preparation section.
Insert the USB for the windows version you want to use and Press F12 for boot menu, pick the USB and continue to the installation/recovery menu. If you choose to do a clean installation like me, when you get to the installation menu, Select "Custom Installation" and once at the partition screen, delete the 3rd partition. This is the partition that is about 470GB and click "New" to recreate it in NTFS format. Do NOT delete or touch partitions 1, 2, 4. once you create the partition, highlight it and click next to install windows. Everything else should be automated until you login to the desktop so just let the installation finish. 

Once your in windows you can do your updates and install anything else you need on windows. Once done, open Disk Management, right click on the C drive and select Shrink. How much you shrink it will depend on how big you want to make your Linux partition. Once done turn off the PC, insert your Linux install USB for the Linux Distribution you want to use and boot into Boot Menu using F12 and pick the USB.

[Installing Linux]

This section is going to really depend on the distribution you use, I personally used Arch Linux since I didn't want bloat and just wanted to pick the OS elements I wanted. I'll link to the Arch Linux Installation Guide, If you would prefer a step by step guide to installing Arch Linux, let me know in the comments and I will make one. Regardless of what distribution you use there are some things you want to keep in mind. The first is, you want to install the bootloader (GRUB for most distributions) on the EFI partition, in my case that was nvme0n1p1. The second is it's up to you how you split the free space you made by shrinking your C drive for your Linux install. I personally had only 1 root partition for my install but you can use this space to make your /root and /home and so forth. Keep in mind that you don't need to create a /boot partition; as mentioned above the EFI system partition we made will also be used as your boot partition. Follow the installation guide for your distribution while making sure to mount the the partitions for Linux in the proper place.

Once you install Linux and restart your PC, you might be surprised to see that windows will boot normally and you want get the grub screen. To enter grub and boot Linux, Press F12 when you start the PC for boot menu and select Grub or the option that is not "Windows Boot Manager" as your Linux bootloader might be named different; this should boot Linux. If you want to make Linux your default boot, go into BIOS and go to Boot and change the order. Oddly for my install there was no name for the boot options, I only had one entry that said "2". the second boot option was invisible, I was able to select it by selecting the "2" and pressing F6 to change orders, even though it's invisible it seems to still work so just save and exit and it should boot fine. You can install os-prober once you are in Linux and config grub again to add Windows 10 to your grub menu if it wasn't installed as part of your distributions install or use F12 during boot to choose Windows or Linux.

**Note** The Ethernet port does not work, I assume the driver for it is not in the Linux kernel yet and might need to be installed manually, I use WiFi so I have not bothered but if there are requests to get it working, I will look into it. Also If people are interested in guides for Undervoltting the CPU in Linux, Installing Nvidia Drivers and setting up Optimus to change between the Intel and Nvidia GPU for battery life, please post in the comments and I will work on them next.

P.S. I apologize for grammar and spelling mistakes in this guide, I haven't had time to double check everything so if there are any, please post and let me know so I can update it.
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