HP Pavilion g6-2103ax
(This is a work-in-progress. I recently bought one of these laptops, and this article will attempt to explain what I did to dual-boot Arch with the HP Factory installed Windows 7.)
The g6-2103ax is a 2012 model 15.6” laptop, with the AMD A6 processor and a dedicated graphics card.
- AMD A6-4400M APU with Radeon graphics
- 2.7 GHz, 1 MiB second-level cache
- Internal: AMD Radeon HD 7520G, 800Mhz, 512MB
- Dedicated: AMD Radeon HD 7670M, 800Mhz, 512MB
- 4 GiB DDR3, 1600 MHz
- 15.6” LED
- HP CDDVDW SN-208BB CD/DVD writer
- Sound: ???
- Wireless: Atheros AR9485 wireless adaptor
- Ethernet: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express fast ethernet controller
- Seagate ST500LM012 HN0M5, 500GB (465GiB)
- Factory partitions are SYSTEM, WINDOWS C, HP_RECOVERY, and HP_TOOLS
- External ports
- 3× USB-3
- SD card reader
- 1× HDMI
- 1× VGA-compatible
Notes about factory settings
The factory install comes with Windows 7 Professional, set up to occupy the majority of the hard drive, with three other utility partitions. As the disk is formatted with the MBR partitioning style, it is impossible to create space to dual boot another operating system without removing one of these utility partitions first. The hardware is UEFI-enabled, but HP uses some BIOS/UEFI trickery to make the system boot in BIOS mode. At present, this cannot be changed, and I couldn’t get any UEFI bootloaders to boot at all.
SYSTEMcontains files essential for Windows to boot. Altering this partition will render Windows unbootable.
HP_RECOVERYpartition contains a factory reset program that will restore the computer to its initial state. HP no longer provide disks for this purpose, but they can be ordered or made using the HP Recovery utilities preinstalled.
HP_TOOLSpartition contains some system diagnostic tools by HP. These are EFI applications only accessible at pre-boot time by hitting Template:Keypress before the bootloader starts.
Dual booting with Arch
These are the steps I followed to dual-boot Arch and Windows 7.
If you wish to create the Windows recovery disks, use the HP Recovery Tools to build these.
The HP Recovery Tools program includes an option to delete the recovery partition. Though they don’t recommend this, it’s safe to perform and is the only way to make room for Arch that will allow a painless dual-boot.
Use the Windows disk management tools to shrink
C: drive to the desired size. If the tool refuses to shrink beyond so-called immovable files, it can be coerced by temporarily disabling the Page File and removing Windows Restore Points.
Once you’ve created the desired amount of free space, boot the Arch ISO installer. Select the 64-bit install, and Template:Keypress to modify the kernel boot parameters. Always append
radeon.modeset=0 to disable KMS, or you’ll be left with a blank screen, as neither the open-source drivers or the ATI Catalyst drivers support KMS on this laptop (at present).
When partitioning, make sure to align partitions properly for optimum performance. Do not modify the
SYSTEM, Windows, or
HP_TOOLS partitions; instead, create an extended partition filling up all of the free space left by shrinking
C:\ drive. That way you can have a separate
/boot partition. I used LVM to contain the rest of my partitions, and did not bother with encryption using LUKS.
Install Arch as per the official guide.
Notes on configuration
I couldn’t get the system to boot using the open-source drivers, and I’ve had no issues with the latest ATI Catalyst driver. You will need to append
vga=0 to your kernel options in your bootloader configs, otherwise the console will be dark, and resuming from suspend may not work properly. I haven’t been able to get suspend-to-disk (hibernate) to work, as it just reports an error from fglrx, so your mileage in that regard may vary.
If you want to remove Windows 7 and opt for a pure Arch install, I’d recommend retaining the
HP_TOOLS partition as it provides options for installing BIOS updates, as well as thorough hardware tests.