Problem installing dual boot Windows Vista and Linux on a HP Pavilion dv6285eu laptop

As mentioned I have recently purchased a HP Pavilion d6285eu laptop. I was originally planning to buy a Dell, but that is a different story: Cancelling a Dell Laptop due to failed delivery and poor customer support.

I have tried, so far unsuccessfully, to install Linux onto the laptop to dual boot alongside Windows Vista Home Premium. You may have similar problems with other HP Pavilion dv6000 series laptops and in particular the dv6200 Entertainment laptops, but that depends upon what other features the other models have. This particular model has an AMD Turion 64 x2 processor, with Nvidia 7200 Graphics, and a 160GB SATA disk drive.

The main problem I had was trying to resize the Windows partition on the main disk. The hard disk is setup with two partitions one about 5GB is the recovery partition placed at the end of the disk, the rest of the disk is taken up with a single partition for Windows Vista. Both of these are NTFS partitions.

At first when I tried resizing the main partition from the Ubuntu (alternate) install CD it refused to resize the partition. I later found at that this was due to errors on the disk. The way that I found this out was using the Gparted LiveCD which provides a bootable partition manager disc. So I then ran Windows chkdsk to identify and fix the problems:

Start -> All Programs -> Accessories
Right Click Command Prompt and choose Run as Administrator
chkdsk /f

I then had to reboot by choosing Shut Down, and then power the computer back on. Choosing reboot did not work, when I first tried it.

I then tried resizing the disk again using the Ubuntu installation CD. This time it did resize the CD, which took about 15 minutes (during which it did not give a status bar). However after finishing the install neither Linux nor Windows would run. The bootloader worked fine and passed onto the appropriate operating system loader, but then after a while they just hung. The same happened when I tried to boot the rescue CD that I’d created from Windows. HP does not provide a recovery CD, so I was not able to verify anything using an official CD, which I think is a big problem.. Without a Windows Vista CD there was no way of attempting any fixes, but I did rule out the bootloader by using an old Windows XP install CD to reinstall the windows boot image (using the fixmbr command).

As the recovery DVD wouldn’t even work I put this down to faulty hardware. I’ve swapped the laptop, but I am not planning to install Linux at the moment, unless anyone else can give some suggestions about how to do it safely. This is a disappointment for me as I normally persevere past problems, but due to the poor recovery options from HP / Microsoft I don’t want to end up with a laptop that doesn’t work. I’m hoping someone else can give some pointers so that I can try again in future.

On the plus side, now that I’ve moved the Windows applications that I need to be able to run to my laptop, my desktop PC will now become Linux only. Acting as a desktop machine, as well as firewall to protect my laptop when using the home network and as a file and web server for personal use.

Unless HP can provide some information for installing Linux I’d suggest you do not buy a HP laptop if you intend to run Linux. If it does go wrong there appears to be no working recovery options.