Measuring people requires good tools, including a computer. I don’t like having to update my research computer, but recently went through this and settled on a Yoga 910. For data analysis and experimental control I have always preferred a Unix operating system. Compared to the alternatives they are more programmable, more adaptable and, historically, more stable when left unattended.
Without getting into specialist computers, if you want a Unix operating system on your desktop you have two options. Buy an Apple computer, or install a Linux Operating System (OS) I’ve switched between the two, historically using using a Linux OS meant spending a lot of time configuring it. It felt like every application needed a different kernel version. Apple on the other hand, worked straight out of the box and was just a flexible.
Things have changed a lot. Apple computers are now only for doing Apple things. Not very useful for a data analyst, developer and researcher.
Why a Linux OS?
On the other hand, Linux OS (some of them) have never been easier to use as a daily desktop. Unfortunately, it also seems that it’s never been harder to install a Linux OS on a new laptop. In this case, Google wasn’t much help. Possibly because there are not too many people with a Linux OS on a Yoga 910. Hopefully this post saves someone time and frustration.
Here I talk about my experience installing Bodhi Linux on a new Yoga 910 laptop. Bodhi is based on the popular Ubuntu, but is stripped down be be minimalist. This is ideal for my purposes, I only want the packages that I need, and I want as many resources as possible for doing research, development and analysis. Because Bodhi is based on Ubuntu, I expect that this post will apply to it and it’s other decedents, but cannot be sure.
Step 1: Get Bodhi Linux
I downloaded Bodhi Linux from it’s download page. Always do the checksum test if available. This is good security practice. The Bodhi Wiki provides installation instructions that will explain how to get the Bodhi Linux image onto a USB flash drive so that you can boot it up.
Step 2: Boot into Bodhi Linux
The easiest way to do this from Windows 10 is to hold left shift while clicking ‘Restart’ in Windows. This takes you to the boot menu where you can select to boot from another device, and select your USB drive.
If your USB drive is not visible, select “UEFI USB device” and when it doesn’t find one it will give you the option of booting from your drive.
Problem 1: Screen tearing
Upon booting into Bodhi Linux from the USB drive, the screen was unstable and tearing. Some quick Google research identified a known bug with Yoga 910 and Linux kernel versions greater than 4.4. Help from the Bodhi subreddit identified that a workaround was to switch off the power saving feature. Not ideal.
However, I found out through trying to fix an unrelated problem that updating my Yoga 910 BIOS to version 2JCN39WW fixed the screen tearing for new kernel version. Updating the BIOS can be daunting, but is pretty straightforward these days. Just run the installer from Windows and follow the instructions. As always, back up first in case you break something. Generally you want to keep your BIOS up-to-date for security reasons.
Step 4: Install Bodhi Linux
So, I spent a bit of time testing out Bodhi to make sure all the functionality worked on my Yoga. I had touch screen, I had mouse and wifi. No problems. So I ran the installer.
Problem 2: No SSD
The installer could not see the SSD in my computer, the only space it could see to install Bodhi was the USB drive that I had booted from. Time to check the BIOS. Again the easiest way to get to the BIOS on this Yoga was to boot into Windows 10 and hold left shift while clicking ‘Restart’. From the menu I then selected:
- Troubleshoot, then
- Advanced options, and then
- UEFI Firmware Settings
This got me into my Yoga’s BIOS. I checked the SATA configuration, and it wasn’t set to AHCI, which is what I need to install Linux.
Problem 3: Keeping Windows
It was my intention to keep Windows 10 and run a dual-boot system with Bodhi and Windows. However, changing the SATA configuration to AHCI after Windows is installed will make Windows unbootable. Now, there are some complicated instructions for fixing this that involve editing the windows registry, but there is a simpler way that has worked for me so far. Always backup first in case things break.
- Change the SATA configuration to AHCI in your BIOS.
- Save and reboot.
- Windows 10 will fail to boot and try to fix itself.
- It won’t be able to fix it self and will show you the boot up menu you used to get to the BIOS.
- Click on ‘Troubleshoot’.
- Click on ‘Advanced options’.
- Click on ‘Startup setting’.
- Click ‘Restart’ to change the start up settings (bottom right).
- Select option 4 ‘Enable Safe Mode’.
- Wait for Windows to start in Safe Mode.
- Restart normally.
After going through this sequence, Windows should now boot normally with your SATA configuration set to AHCI.
Step 5: Finish installing Bodhi Linux
After this I had no more issues and completed the usual Bodhi Linux install process. I now have Bodhi Linux dual booting with Windows 10 and set as my default operating system. Now I can configure it for science and engineering (more in another blog post).
I’m sure this will change before I buy my next computer, but it took an afternoon of troubleshooting and so I hope this post saves someone else’s time in setting up their computer for Measuring People.
Dr Lee Walsh the founder and director of Platypus Technical Consultants. Lee is an electrical and biomedical engineer, physiologist, technical consultant and science communicator. He has over a decade of experience in measurement, instrumentation and analysis, particularly in clinical settings, physiology and medical device testing.