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How I put Linux on a Microsoft Surface Go - in just an hour

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This is really for the techies and Linux folks.

OK I have two Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablets which are speed demons compared to the original Go Tablets. We had one of the original Go tablets, and the best they had. Pentium Y sloooow. The Go 2s we have are M3 CPUs with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD.

I have not tried this but this idea sounds like a winner. I just saw a Surface Go for sale for $150 with Surface Pen today! It had the Flash storage instead of the SSD and only 64GB at that so not what I would do this project with.


"Can you take an old Surface and run modern Linux on it?

The original Surface Go is a nice little tablet that squeezes a lot out of a low-power Pentium-class processor and a 10" display. It's light and portable, the ideal form factor for a device that you put in a bag, ready to pull out and use whenever and wherever. And with three generations of hardware, the original version is nice and cheap on the second-hand market, one of the better value Surfaces around.

But it does have its limits. For one thing, while it has a TPM, its processor isn't supported for Windows 11. So how do you squeeze more life out of a device that will drop out of support in a couple of years, as Microsoft winds down Windows 10? The answer is a simple one: run Linux on it.

Of course, some things are easier said than done. Microsoft uses a lot of custom hardware in its Surface devices. Yes, you can run a standard Linux kernel, but you're going to want more than that. Luckily for us there's the GitHub-hosted Linux Surface project, which has built a Surface-optimised kernel that's a drop-in replacement for most existing distros.

SEE: Feren OS is a Linux distribution that is as lovely as it is easy to use


So then, Linux it is. But which distro? After a bit of research, I found that Ubuntu or similar would be my best option. The Surface Go might not have all the security features required by Windows 11, but like most Windows devices since the launch of Windows 8, it uses secure boot to protect your data. That means using Linux that comes with the appropriate code-signing certificate, unless you want to spend time getting into the Surface UEFI settings and turning off most of the hardware security features – and then going through a relatively complex process to get Linux installed and booting.

SEE: How I revived three ancient computers with ChromeOS Flex

With Ubuntu I was able to download the latest 22.04 LTS release, before using the familiar Rufus bootable USB creation tool to turn the downloaded ISO into a live USB stick with support for GPT UEFI systems. It helped to have a USB C stick to hand, as the Surface Go only has one USB C port, and there can be issues installing Linux through a USB hub.

Getting installed was easy enough. I started from the Recovery section on the Update screen in Windows 10's Settings app, where I chose to use Advanced startup. This gives you the option of booting your device from a USB device, in this case my Ubuntu live image. With my USB drive inserted I was given the option of booting using Linpus Lite. It's not actually the Linpus distro, it's a bug in the Surface UEFI bootloaders that identify any bootable grub-based Linux media as Linpus. Click it to start the Ubuntu install, first launching a Linux environment, so you can see how it will look on your Surface."

Lots more in the article here:



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