PLEASE, EXPERTISE NEEDED! Install of Ubuntu Mate 22.04 on separate SSD trying to boot on Windows 11 laptop

Why?? Yes, I am a newbie at this, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. This is the first time I'm trying this with a SSD and a roaming profile. I've spent a plethora of hours and days searching, studying, watching YouTube videos, analyzing, doing research and testing, and trying to track the right combination down, but to no avail. Finding the correct answer to this dilemma has escaped my grasp. I try my best not to post questions; I usually work on it until I find it, but it's apparent that on this one, I've got my head below water and can't pull it up and out of this scenario. I would really appreciate and be grateful for the advice on this.

Basically, what I am trying to do is mirror my main installation from my main computer system to the SSD from my complete profile on my main system, and make it usable and portable. So I can have my timeline profile with all my information, notes, info, from my primary, and principal computer system and make it portable, for use anywhere I need it.

I have done multiple installations of Ubuntu Mate to the first partition of this SSD that default to ext4 on installation, to which Windows 11 does see when in Microsoft's OS BUT, in the BIOS, it is not visible and refuses to recognize as a boot option. Also, the BIOS doesn't see it in bios as a possible selection to set "boot from USB," which is what the Crucial SSD is attached too. I've also tried with Windows 11 with Rufus and/or start-up disk creator to make the start-up disk for Ubuntu Mate. When booting with either start-up disk, I have to go into the BIOS every time; it does recognize the start-up USB from both, and I can set it to "boot from USB," and the BIOS does see it and allows me to boot from it.

Again, SSD separate drive, (I do not want dual boot off of the Windows 11 drive!)

I can see both Crucial SSD partitions in the "devices and drives" window in Windows 11.
During my research, I found the advice to shut off bitblocker and fast startup when trying to have separate drives boot from Windows 11 so that has been done. To repeat: (Both have been disabled and shut off.)

Windows 11 System specs:
Dell Inspiron 15 3520 Windows 11 laptop

Processor: Intel i5-1135G7 (Tiger Lake): 11th Generation Intel Core Processor (Tiger Lake): i5-1135G7 @ 2.40GHz

Memory: 8192MB RAM - (7.73 GB usable)

Operating system Windows 11 64-bit home addition
BIOS: 1.15.0 (type: UEFI)

Hard Drive: NVMe BC901- NVMe SK hynix 256GB
115GB free of 218GB
****(bitblocker and fast startup have been disabled/shut off.)

****If you need additional information, I will gladly provide it.

The Crucial SSD 2tb has been partitioned into 2 1tb drives.

Still, no joy! Is it the UEFI BIOS that's stopping the process, or is it something else that's stopping me from booting from the SSD?

Other suggestions were to "unplug the Windows disks out of your computer." I really don't see this as feasible given that it's a laptop, and Dell laptop systems are prone to being extremely fragile and inclined to electrostatic shock damage even when you properly handle them, particularly the newest ones.

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Welcome @rev_dwbsr to the community!

Thank you sir for your welcome. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi re_dwbsr,
If you boot Ubuntu from SATA usb adapter it's suposed you install bootloader in primary device Nvme /dev/sda, though grub always will start when you boot W11. Not sure if in your laptop model is able to boot an UM "live", in that case bootloader will rest in ssd Crucial. You must try "something else" and do a manual partition installation, with disc on usb plugged.
I think your laptop is able to insert a SATA disc inside, alongside Nvme if you disassemble it (very easy), and better option. Bios would see your second drive and give option to boot one or another, or both. Dual boot on primary Nvme alongside W11 it's also available.
Be sure to install Ubuntu in GPT not MBR on table disc. I recommend to use ubuntu "startup disc creator" in UM to make an UM usb installer. To boot UM installed, Uefi it's necessary and better disable secure boot. I hope all this could be enough.

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Hi Tim,
Thank you for the suggestions, but, this laptop is under warranty for the next year, Dell will void the warranty unless they pre-install the Ubuntu and/or derivative system.

Yes, it can, only by a live USB.

No, unfortunately, with this particular model (contrary to what Dell technical support told me.) I have opened it up and there's no room inside for a second drive install.
I appreciate your time for your suggestions.
Thank you! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Sorry Rev,
Is it your inspiron model 3520? What about Sata ssd? Very strange:


Thank you for your response, I had to actually look it up on the service manual to figure out what model I have. Apparently there are 3 different revisions of the Inspiron model 3520.
Description Option one Option two Option three
Display type 15.6-inch, HD | 15.6-inch, FHD | 15.6-inch, FHD, touch
Page 21,

I have the first option, "15.6-inch, HD" It seems that the one on the video is either the
"15.6-inch, FHD," or the "15.6-inch, FHD, touch"

The only clue I had was that I saw the "FHD" in the description of the video that you provided. The other two must have the area, the bracket, ribbon cable, the space, etc. to upgrade to another hard drive.

When I first purchased my revision, I called Dell to find out if my model was expandable to include additional memory and an additional hard drive in hopes that I could do an upgrade if I desired to do so. Long story short, an 1-1/2 hours later, I got the correct answers from a supervisor at Dell technical support. That I can not add another hard drive because there is no room, , but he stated that I could expand the memory to a maximum of 16 GB if I matched the same memory that they use when building the product. Hopefully, anyway. :thinking: That's why I opened it up to see for myself what I could and couldn't do, and what the system had for possibilities. :thinking: :angry:

They also explained me about the warranty void if I installed *Nix on my laptop instead of having them do it prior to purchase as well.

I genuinely never thought I would be going through all of this just to have a duplication of my main computer system to the SSD with my complete profile and make it usable and portable.

I really want to thank you for your due diligence and time and effort in assisting me with this dilemma. :slightly_smiling_face: :+1:

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No way, I thank you, Rev_!
In fact, you are also helping me, because I had located this specific model in case I had any problems with my current laptop, which is already starting to get old. And in your specifications I just saw the following: "Systems with 11 th Generation Intel Core (or Tiger Lake) do not offer hard drive configuration".

What a pitty, your processor is Intel 11th generation, because Dell sells 12h i3 that seems to allow SATA storage, more or less for the same price.

It is a fact that the transition to Nvme drives will come sooner or later, which I personally don't like (if we are looking for second-hand hardware, it doesn't always have to be that way). Another phenomenal change appearing in the latest generation laptops is the disappearance of the RJ45 Ethernet input, which makes it depend exclusively on the WiFi card and its drivers. I consider it a criminal act (many people are having problems in the Linux environment because of this)...little by little tightening the fence more and more and limiting the simplicity we have enjoyed, at the cost of "advances" that only benefit manufacturers and their stock market prices. AI is another stupid bubble that is going to leave us all in the damn street, but this is another topic.

I would recommend migrating to Nvme given your situation, but it's my personal view. Connecting an SSD via USB greatly reduces performance. On the other hand and from what I read in forums, at the moment dualboot W11-Ubuntu is possible, but you can never trust $Microsoft$ "security" updates, which continues to love Linux so much.

Good luck with the process and best regards!

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I want to thank you for your input and insight. You've given additional food for though, once this warranty has expired. Unfortunately, change is going to come, whether we like it or not. We have to adapt to the change sooner or later. My trust in or shall I say lack there of with (Dell technical support :rofl: :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: and (as I call them, $MS$ :money_mouth_face: :heavy_dollar_sign: :heavy_dollar_sign:) has grown leaps and bounds again, more so than ever. I just found out that they just undated this laptop with BIOS and other software unbeknown to me. They actually turned on the system, did their deeds, and shut it down thinking I won't know. I guess they never heard of log files, boot logs, and update logs.

But, with our knowledge, as well as the knowledge possessed in the 'NIX community, we shall improvise, adapt, and overcome! We want and insist on: CHOICE! Freedom of choice, choice of applications to run reliably on all kinds of hardware, avoiding proprietary vendor lock-in. Choice in open infrastructure, the freedom of choice in performance and manageability of their system operations as they see fit, as well as, customer choice in customer satisfaction, and customer commitment to this freedom is choice.

Take good care Tim! :+1:


Sadly seems like the newer Dell's not a good as their old ones. I have 4 Dell Laptops 2 M6600s and 2 m4600s. All have 32GB Ram and all have an Minisata internal ssd up to 512GB. The m6600s also have 2 internal removable 2.5" drive bays. These laptops are all Aluminum where the case actsas a huge Heatsink and never gets hot. The laptops also have 7 USB connections (4 are USB 3.0). the one in the rear is an eSATA (external sata). This one is the only one that is hot to the motherboard during boot and is seen by the bios for booting USB(cannot boot windows from this however, except to install. My laptops are all 11 years old with Intel i7 CPU at 2.7Ghz. I would not worry about Warrentees on Dell equiptment, unless they are now complete Garbage? I run Linux Mint Cinnamon but also have windows for 1 graphics program. What I have found is that except for installing Windows from a usb drive, only the install works and once installed windows (even 11) would not boot from a USB drive. They are still worried people will steal it. I would suggest (fairly sure this will work) put your 2TB SSD instide the laptop (don't worry there not that fragile) Install windows in partition 1 first. Then install mate in partition 2 specifying 'something else' and not to install along side windows. Then specifiy the 2nd partition. At the bottom of the screen where it says to install boot loader specify the windows partition. That will install theLinux boot menu with both OS's available to boot at startup time from the Linux Boot Menu.

I'm going to reiterate something that's probably already been said. Maybe not.

You SHOULD have the ability after POST to select the boot device. If not, you should have an option in the BIOS under some section where you Save and Exit. If you have that section in BIOS, Save and Exit, then there should be a grouping there with boot devices that the BIOS has recognized. Navigate to the boot device you want, then press enter. It should boot to that device.

I don't have a laptop so I can't deal with "should"s. Therefore I'm not going to get drawn into this other than this comment.

Next, installing Linux first is something I had problems with. Next, installing two OSs on the same disk is something I've had problems with. I don't CARE about "should" here, I am only giving my experience in dealing with dual boot systems.

So here is the part where whether you like it or not, it works well. Install Win11 on its own disk. This should be the only disk in your system when you do the install.

IF you have the ability to select boot device after POST, THEN REMOVE disk after all the install/updates are done. In another available space for disk install Ubuntu on that disk. This will prevent Linux from creating a Grub file on the Windows 11 disk.

This of course requires that you can install an OS from a USB to do the install of Ubuntu.

An OTHER option is to dual boot off of a single disk, which still requires you can load an OS from USB. Install Win11 first, not second, on the first disk partition. Don't do anything with a 2nd partition. Leave whatever amount of disk space you want for Ubuntu without a partition. Once install.updates are done you can probably run the Ubuntu install from Win11, but I'm not positive. If not you once again need to be able to boot from USB to load Ubuntu. During the install of Ubuntu, go ahead and boot into Ubuntu on the USB and do the install from the Ubuntu environment.

When installing Ubuntu it should ask if you are installing alongside Win11 and you would say yes. It should then show you the disk free space and you would select that free space, and here is the part that gets messy. Linux and Ubuntu need certain partitions and when I did an install with 22.04 it didn't do the automatic creation of partitions correctly.

If when you installed Win11 it created a small partition at the head of the disk which is an EFI partition then you are mostly good. There are different thoughts about installing to a single partition or multiple, I prefer multiple. I want a separate root (EXT4), home (EXT4) and SWAP space. Since you have such a small amount of memory, I'd make that SWAP space big, like 32GB big. This assumes you multi-task with Ubuntu. If you only do one thing at a time then the SWAP space can be smaller. So if you were loading Ubuntu to its own disk, you would first wipe out all partitions, you would also make sure the disk was initialized GPT not MBR. The first partition is the EFI, next is root, next is home, next is the swap. You can go to Youtube and get an idea about the sizes for each of these. EFI is FAT32. You COULD put the swap space on the disk following root so when you create home you can simply use the rest of the disk.

IF you do a dual boot single disk then a GRUB loader should have been installed in that EFI partition. It should have been created with the options to boot with either Win11 or Ubuntu. After POST, the GRUB loader will appear so you don't have to go into BIOS to select a boot device.

You CAN install Ubuntu with the Win11 disk installed. There should be a small EFI partition at the beginning of the Win11 disk. If there isn't, then your Win11 disk isn't set up correctly. It could be it's not initialized using a GPT partition. You need that EFI partition for the GRUB loader to be installed on. If you choose to install Ubuntu without the Win11 disk installed, the GRUB loader will be installed on the Ubuntu disk. This is my preference, but I can use a hot key to bring up boot devices at the end of POST.

After installing Ubuntu, go into DISKS tool, select the Win11 disk/partition and enable the setting that allows you to make settings you want, and then disable mount at startup, disable it from being visible.

So there's a long list of issues in what I said. One main point is disks need to be initialized with a GPT partition. Other main point is an EFI partition needs to exist, and it's FAT32. Other main point is if you don't have an option to select a boot device after POST is finished (strange, but OK) then your options are to go into BIOS whenever you boot to a secondary boot device, OR your install order/method should ensure that a GRUB file gets written correctly and the best way I know of making that happen is installing Win first, Ubuntu 2nd.

Your UEFI is not a problem. UEFI has been around for more than a decade.

You're trying to use a laptop like a versatile desktop. That doesn't always work. The BIOS/UEFI can be limited in the settings for one. In the case of dual boot I prefer a boot menu after POST that you can bring up with a hot key. Your device may or may not have that selection. The next option after that is making sure the GRUB file gets configured correctly and the easiest way for that to happen is install Win11 first.

Good luck with this. I don't mean to be rude but I have limited experience with laptops so if I didn't already say it I can't help with anything else.

One last point. Laptops are not fragile, but they do require that you have the right tools and when removing the bottom cover since there can be wires so you lift carefully. Electrostatic shock tends to happen in cooler/dryer conditions. If that's a problem THEN you need to ground yourself. I've NEVER damaged a component from electrostatic shock and I've never worn a wrist strap. When it's cold I like to have something next to me that's metal and plugged into a wall outlet, that I can touch before doing work. Pretty basic stuff. I've put together 30 - 40 systems. Common sense goes a long way. Avoid touching the copper contacts on boards, disks, etc....

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