Cannot boot back into Zorin OS after booting into Windows 10 once

Windows?

Yes. Is the nVME/RAID requirement strictly for Linux ?

I couldn't vouch for Mac OS.

But setting to RAID in order to install Linux on an nvme drive is pretty standard. I am not the nvme, emmc, RAID / AHCI guru, though. All I know is the frequency of troubles with emmc and nvme.

Both are more akin to an SD card than they are to SSD. They operate differently.

I see. I'll have to look into that if I decide to install Zorin on my personal computer as well.
Looking into different options, I found this software to add boot options directly from Windows, could booting on the grubx64.efi file itself work ?
boot
For now, as I understand it, the GRUB is located within my Zorin partition itself.

It places files in /boot and in the EFI partition.

Remember that zorin is based on Ubuntu. Seeing Ubuntu in the efi partition shouldn't be a surprise. This is the files Zorin uses to boot.

You could always do a reinstall, choose the something else method. Choose the windows efi boot partition (100mb) and overwrite it. In the parroting window above that dropdown, choose the ext4 partition that will be zorin root. Select the gear next to the plus and minus Uber the left corner of the window. Change from do not use to ext4 fs, but do not format it, leave it unchecked, and mount it on root (/). Choose the swap partition (also am ext4 partition but same size as your ram, mount in /swap, ext4 fs, no format. Any other partitions that you want to mount, change them to their respective fs, no format and mount location. Once done hit install. It will install grub, ignore everything else and complete. Reboot and you should be able to get back into zorin without having to recustomize or reinstall any apps.

Thank you for the very detailed intructions.

I assume that could theoretically pose a risk to Windows booting normally ?

Again, I'm assuming that means the Windows partition ? I don't have a separated partition for data, but I have a few other that I don't really know about.
In total there's :

  • a 260 mb FAT32 partition called SYSTEM
  • a 128 mb of unknown (according to Windows) format and without any name
  • the main NTFS C: partition named "Windows"
  • a 694 mb NTFS partition without any name (I assume that's for Windows recovery ?)
  • a 50 gb partition that I cleared for Zorin

Yes, you will overwrite the boot partition but it shouldn't cause issues with booting windows. Most of the people that do have issues is with booting zorin, not windows. Any issues with booting windows has turned out to be corruption in the drive due to hardware failure. Make sure you choose that partition, not the drive (ex. sda1 vs sda).

The 700 MB partition is your recovery partition. I was referring to any partition you may use to share info between OS's. I do this, but it is an optional thing, You will still be able to see and mount the windows partition in Zorin. You won't be able to mount the Zorin partition in windows (Windows doesn't understand the ext* series of filesystems).

You should be good to go. Remember, anything that can be broken can be fixed. Be sure to backup personal data prior to install and dive in. Nothing gets accomplished by worry or procrastination. Relax and it will be ok.

Thanks again for the info !
Sorry for the delay, as this is a work computer there are sometimes long calculations that need to be performed, and in those cases I cannot shut it down for up to several days in a row.

I started following your instructions, and I have just a couple additional questions :

  • First, there's a partition refered to as Windows Boot Manager, and it is slightly larger than what you mentioned as "Windows Boot Partition", at 260 Mb instead of 100 Mb. I'm pretty sure it's the correct one, but I'd rather not overwrite something I'm not supposed to :grin: I ask especially because there's another partition that do more or less match the size you described, at 128 Mb, but there's no indication on what it might be.
  • Second, I do not have space cleared for a swap partition. I've heard it mentioned often during Linux installs, but since this computer shipped with Windows installed and has 32 Gb of RAM, I wonder if I have to have a partition that large in order for it to run properly.

EDIT : just to be clear, I can make space for a swap partition if needed, I just didn't plan for it during my first install.

I would create an efi partition for zorin instead of overwriting the windows boot manager (yes that is the correct one). You will have to hit f8, f10 or f12 to be able to change the boot order and not into zorin.

It does not need a swap partition unless you plan on using hibernate or a virtual machine software. Be sure to follow the steps in:

Prior to editing the partitions. Use disks in the live usb to adjust the partitions. One 500mb fat32 and the other whatever size for zorin (60+gb recommended with home folder in root partition). Then hit the installer and you'll know exactly where your placing things. Use the something else method. This way you can choose those places.

When you reach the partition window at the top and the bootloader location pulldown... use the scrollable windsurfing at the top to find the identifier of the partition you made for grub (efi) and choose that in the pulldown. In the top window find the ext4 partition and left click to select it. Hit the gear at the bottom left of that window. Choose ext4 in the do not use pull down, choose / for mount and check the format button. Hit install and follow the prompts. If it asks to commit changes to disk, hit yes or ok.

Well I'm slightly more confused now.

To be clear, I should create a 500 Mb partition as "EFI system partition", which I pick as a boot loader location, and which should be at the top of my boot order after the install.

Then I should pick the existing Zorin ext4 partition, and choose to mount is as "/".

But shouldn't I actually make sure it isn't checked if I want to recover that partition ?

And as I understand it, the default installer places both the bootloader and / on the same partition ?

Thanks !

If your recovering the partition then you don't want to check format. Forgive me i thought you were overwriting your pop partition.

The bootloader will be in the efi partition, by itself. Zorin will be mounted on root. You don't have to specify the mount point for the bootloader, the computer will do that automatically.

Well, it worked !

I did get a warning after the install was completed that some of my programs couldn't be saved, and indeed the install reverted back to default apps, but other settings and all my files were recovered.

I cycled between Windows and Zorin a couple times to make sure that I could safely boot with both OSes and it looked fine, hopefully Windows won't break anything in the future.

Thank you everyone for the very extensive help, especially @337harvey and @Aravisian. I'll try everything out on my work laptop for a couple weeks, and if everything goes well I'll switch to Zorin for my personal laptop as well !

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