Installing ubuntu on a lenovo U410

The other day, I was helping my brother install Ubuntu on his brand new laptop (Lenovo ideapad). Since I’ve installed linux for the first time things have improved quite a bit (that was on a pentium 75 after printing 100 of pages of documentation as at that time, I had only one computer and no Internet). So I wasn’t expecting any surprises.

However after starting the ubuntu 12.04 installer from the live usb and diving into the installation: no partition were detected at all. Nothing, just a blank menu and no other choice. And if you try to go on with the installation: “No root file system is defined”. I couldn’t find much about that after some fair amount of googling around. The Wubi installer would run into the same problem.

Gparted was working fine and had no problem seeing and changing the partition, but the installer would stubbornly refuse to see anything.

Unrelated rant: I really don’t understand how Lenovo had the brilliant idea to ship laptops with 4 primary partitions (boot, windows and 2 ‘lenovo’). To install anything else, no other choice than bursting one of the lenovo partition to create a logical partition…

It appeared that the laptop is configured with a small SSD mounted in RAID with the hard disk (my guess is this is to improve the performances of the hd). And Ubuntu is setup to ignore any disk that is part of a raid array (to avoid breaking an array, I guess).

One way to confirm if your issue is similar to mine

sudo mdadm --examine /dev/sdb

should show something like intel raid ism cfg sig.

So after identifying the issue, the solution was pretty simple (it took more time to double check that this would not break things around).

After starting Ubuntu from the live usb:

sudo apt-get install mdadm
sudo mdadm --zero-superblock /dev/sdb

Then, go ahead with the installation.

After that, during the next startup the bios detect the incomplete array and ask you what you want to do. At that point, I just removed the SSD from the raid (it was getting late), but it’s probably worth trying to add the hd back to the array now that the install is done.

4 thoughts on “Installing ubuntu on a lenovo U410

  1. Hi I find this very interesting I have the same laptop… If you ever get the chance to mess with the laptop any help would be appreciated getting the cache raid setup under linux.

    Thanks a lot for the tips.

  2. Hi there

    Please could specify how you got to the command prompt when installing ubuntu…im trying to install it with windows because i need these two OS for my course… used a USB boot for ubuntu..but how do i put in those commands before the setup page appears?

  3. Instead of install, you can usually choose to boot a live ubuntu (running from the usb key instead of being installed on the computer), this should allow you to start a terminal and enter the commands.

  4. Hi! I follow your instructions and finally I got my lenovo with Ubuntu. Now I would like to recover my SSD partition and my files, do you think it’s possible?

    Thanks for your tips.

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