Netbook won't boot from USB (Linux or Windows)

  Larches 16:41 31 Mar 2018

The latest challenge set for me by a family member is to resurrect his Medion Akoya S2218 netbook (Intel Atom Z3735F), which is currently without operating system. It came with Windows 10 pre-installed, but suffered a strange glitch whereby it was impossible to open the start menu (by mouse or keyboard shortcut) - the menu was completely unresponsive, and for some reason the factory reset didn't work.

He therefore decided to wipe the disk with the intention of installing Linux, but that has proved impossible so far. I have tried about a dozen different Linux distributions (which are supposedly appropriate for netbooks), and despite having set USB as the first boot device, it just skips on past and ends up at the (now infuriating) EFI Shell prompt (after showing a device mapping table - blk0-blk2). It just appears not to recognise the bootable USB (which works OK on another machine). The only exceptions to this were a couple of distros which it did recognise, but in both cases it looked as if it would boot but then filled the screen with flashing grey stripes and froze in that state (this happened consistently with several attempts).

I have tried writing the Linux ISOs to USB with both Rufus and YUMI, and it even fails to recognise a Windows 7 recovery USB installation. We therefore seem to be at a dead end and unable to turn round - the netbook is (as far as I can tell) completely useless in its current state.

Can anyone offer any wisdom on this please?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 18:31 31 Mar 2018

If you do not enable legacy mode the UEFi will prevent booting from anything except the hard / ss drive usualy.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 19:29 31 Mar 2018

The problem with temporary boot order is if you're doing an install and windows needs to reboot a coule of times it will try and rebbot from the hard drive and not your USB drive with the install media and end up getting itself into a boot loop.

  LastChip 23:12 31 Mar 2018

You need to make changes in the BIOS. Please watch this video for instructions. The video is for a Samsung, but yours should be similar.

  Govan1x 23:50 31 Mar 2018

64gb ssd on it. If I remember right Aitchbe bought one of those from Aldi and took it back either the same day or a little bit later. Using W10 it is going to struggle.

  Larches 11:59 03 Apr 2018

[Hoping I can actually reply now, as several previous attempts at clicking on "Post" just resulted in the spinning icon on the button and it didn't post my response.]

Thanks everyone. Sorry I forgot to say, I did try forcing the boot option via F12, and there is the USB drive at the top of the list, but even when I select it there, it just comes back to the menu as if that drive is not bootable.

It may well be something to do with UEFI / fast boot vs legacy mode, but the trouble is, I can't find that option in the BIOS... I kid you not - there are four 'tabs' in there - Main (date and system info), Security (option to set passwords), Boot (simply lists the boot order and nothing else) and Exit (save/exit). It's the most basic BIOS I've come across (says Phoenix SecureCore Technology Setup at the top, version number is 1.00.04.MN IA32). No mention in the usual place of UEFI or legacy boot options.

  Larches 21:50 14 Apr 2018

Thanks for the latest suggestions, and based on those I decided to start again from scratch... I deleted the partition on the USB drive altogether, and then wrote a freshly-downloaded Bodhi linux boot image to it. I tested it on another computer and it booted as expected. I then tried it on the netbook, and yet again it ignored it and tried to boot from the internal HDD (dumped me out at the EFI prompt). Same for Ubuntu.

I thought I'd have a go with another more lightweight distro, so downloaded WattOS LXDE and wrote that to the USB drive in the same way, and lo and behold, the netbook recognised it straight away and gave me the GRUB bootloader menu. I chose the WattOS live image and it appeared to begin booting to that, but just as per my original post, the success didn't last long... the screen just fills with flickering grey and white horizontal stripes (see photo), and stays like that indefinitely. So I've moved from a "won't recognise boot disk" problem to a "freezes during boot" problem!

  Larches 21:51 14 Apr 2018

Linked image not showing for some reason - URL is below.

click here

  Larches 14:16 15 Apr 2018

The netbook is a couple of years old, and has 2GB RAM. I'm wondering if there's some sort of fundamental compatibility problem between the graphics chip and these Linux boot disks. Difficult to rule in or out though, as it wouldn't recognise a Windows boot disk at all.

I don't have a spare hard drive at present but that's maybe an idea for something to try if all else fails.

  Larches 21:44 21 Apr 2018

@octal, thanks for your reply and yes, to my surprise (given its age) it's a 32-bit machine so they were 32-bit images I was downloading. I even tried a Gparted boot image with safe mode and basic VGA mode options, and all produced the same effect as WattOS, i.e. the flickering stripes (good name for a band? :).

All of this makes me think of that old idiom "buy cheap, buy twice", but in the interest of family harmony I won't be bandying that one around (nor will I be buying any IT kit from the likes of Aldi though).

  Larches 11:10 22 Apr 2018

@rdave13, thanks very much for those points and the link to that thread - actually really useful and looks like we might be onto something just when I thought I'd hit a brick wall - I've saved that page and a few others along the same lines so now just need the time to try out what they recommend (I'll post an update once I've had chance to try).

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