Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Linux on Lenovo z585

The Lenovo z585 is literally a piece of shit when it comes to installing Linux. Just google around for a bit, you'll see lots and lots of frustrated users almost ready to give up, some even ready to use Windoze instead. I'll never buy one of these again, not ever. But I am stuck with one for now, and I had to finally replace my old Lubuntu 13.04 install with 15.04 today.

Of course I had forgotten about all the pain that is involved in getting this thing to boot a Linux LiveUSB. But this time I swore I'd write this blog post so I won't forget again how to make it work. So here's how I got Lubuntu 15.04 to boot just fine from an old USB pen drive:

  1. Power the darn thing off and stick your USB drive into one of the USB 3 ports. Yes, for some reason it didn't work for me on the USB 2 port, go figure.
  2. Right after switching on power you should get a "Lenovo" logo on your screen. Hit F2 quickly to enter the BIOS. If you have an admin password set, I hope you remember it. Luckily I remembered mine.
  3. Under "Configuration" make sure that you have "USB Legacy" enabled. I also have "WLAN" enabled and "SATA Controller Mode" to "AHCI" but that shouldn't matter. Nevertheless, if things don't work for you, you might as well try setting those two as well.
  4. Under "Security" you'll first have to "Set Administrator Password" to enable some other options. Make sure you use a password that you'll remember easily! Once you've done that, you can switch "Secure Boot" to "Disabled" and that's what you want.
  5. Under "Boot" first you'll want "Boot Mode" set to "Legacy Support". Then you want "Boot Priority" set to "UEFI First"; yes, I am aware that this sounds insane, but without this setting I cannot boot a single Linux LiveUSB. Obviously you want "USB Boot" set to "Enabled". I also have "ESATA Boot" enabled, but that shouldn't matter. See above regarding shouldn't. You should have your USB stick plugged in already when you get here, just move it all the way to the top in "Boot Priority Order".
  6. Under "Exit" select "Exit Saving Changes" and voila, your crappy laptop should finally boot that LiveUSB and let you install a reasonable OS.

I doubt there's any rhyme or reason to this, the entire machine is crap, the BIOS is crap, etc. But the only thing that matters is that it works now. At least on my machine. If you get yours to boot Linux, whether with these BIOS settings or different ones, please leave a reply below. I am curious how others made it work, maybe I can learn something.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Them B/X Celebrities

I noticed a curious thing about some of the "celebrities" of the B/X Basic Rules, specifically Morgan Ironwolf, Black Dougal, Fredrik, and Sister Rebecca: Apparently they were actual PCs in someone's AD&D campaign before becoming world-famous in those B/X "Examples of Combat" and "Sample Dungeon Expedition" sections.

If you grab yourself a copy of the 1980 AD&D Dungeon Masters Adventure Log supplement, you can check for yourself. There's a filled-out example sheet at the back that has the following:

The only elf in that product is "Elron Hubbard" (male elf fighter/magic-user) played by Lawrence Schick, and presumably that was changed to "Silverleaf" because nobody wanted to get sued by Scientology? :-)

Now granted, there's no way of telling whether these were really really really player characters short of asking (and I might be able to ask Dave when I see him next) but I find that to be a pretty reasonable assumption.

Also funny: Black Dougal is listed as "slain by a fire giant" in the Adventure Log so that poor guy always seems to end up dead. Sadly Sister Rebecca is also listed as "falls in valiant combat with a black dragon" so I am kind of glad that she survives in B/X.