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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.