My Window 8 box

I recently purchased a new computer, and it came with Windows 8.  It also came with UEFI, gpt partitioning and secure boot.  I have not yet put it into productive use, so  this post will be about first looks.

Windows 8

All of those things you have heard about Window 8 – they are probably true.  You might say that I am underwhelmed by this operating system.  But, then, I have never been a Windows fan.

In the past, my main use of Windows has been:

  • updating anti-virus definitions;
  • playing windows games (something to do while waiting for the AV to update);
  • reading MS-Office documents;
  • preparing Income Tax returns;
  • installing Windows updates.

I teach a class in operating systems, so I do need to know a little about Windows.

These days, I mostly use LibreOffice on linux for reading MS-Office documents.

Win8 seems to come without games.  There is a “games” entry you can click, but it seems to take you to a microsoft store where you can purchase games.  I’ll skip that.

That leaves preparation of annual tax returns as the important remaining use for Win8.


These days, computers seem to come without a re-install disk.  So, for safety, I took a backup.  My plan was to boot from my Acronis 2013 disk for taking that backup.  I’ll note that I have several Acronis licenses, more than enough for all of the boxes in the house.  However, I usually prefer to boot from the CD and do a full stand-alone backup to an external drive.  I did install Acronis on one system, to be able to use that to generate the CD.

I inserted the Acronis CD, and then rebooted the computer.  During reboot, I pounded the F12 key – that’s supposed to bring up the menu that allows selecting to boot from a CD with this Dell box.  No menu appeared.  The box booted back into Windows.

I had actually expected that to happen.  So I rebooted again.  And this time, I pounded the F2 key which should get into the BIOS settings.  Once in the BIOS settings, I disabled secure boot.  I then rebooted again, and tried the F12 key, which now worked as expected.  Taking the backup was otherwise routine.

Authentic Windows

I could not find the authentic windows sticker.  It turns out that there isn’t one for OEM versions of Windows 8.  See the discussion here.

It occurs to me, that maybe that is what secure boot is really about.  Maybe it intended to fight the use of pirated versions of Microsoft operating systems, rather than to fight open source software.


I won’t have much use for Window 8, but I will leave it there for the present.  My plan is to add a second hard drive, and see if I can install opensuse there.  In part, this will be a learning experience with UEFI system and gpt partitioning.  If opensuse makes secure boot available, I’ll be learning about that, too.

I did boot the opensuse 12.3 RC1 DVD image (on a USB), and went into rescue mode.  I used “parted” to display the partition information.

I’ll post again, when I have some more experience with this system.


About Neil Rickert

Retired mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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  1. UEFI and linux | Thoughts on computing - 2013/02/24

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