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I'm about to recieve a 2012 Dell XPS 15 with 128GB mSATA and 1TB 5400rpm HDD, it should come with Windows 7 Pro 64-bit.

I understand that Smart Response Technology (SRT) in the Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) feature uses up to 64GB of storage on the mSATA drive to provide a fake BIOS level RAID in Windows to cache the HDD to increase performance. This is a nifty trick.

I've also read that SRT makes the mSATA device unavailable to install other operating systems, but that there may be ways to work around this.

My question is; can I use the unused 64GB of the mSATA drive to install Ubuntu, and still use SRT on my Windows installation?

This should be possible because the unused space should appear as a simple single disk RAID0 volume. I see this having 5 steps:

  1. Make mSATA visible to Ubuntu installer (may disable RST)
  2. Install Ubuntu 12.10 x86_64 in mSATA free space.
  3. Install bootloader (GRUB2)
  4. Restore SRT on Windows (if disabled)
  5. Fix bootloader, because undoubtedly Windows will have broken it.

Caveats:

  • I can not risk, remove, or reinstall the Windows installation, this is a $work machine and Windows is required. I can resize the partitions though.
  • Being able to install Ubuntu on a partition on the 1TB and use SRT with it would be an alternative, and be awesome, but I don't think that Linux supports SRT (yet).
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I am aware of this response about installing Ubuntu on a Dell XPS 14 but it seems to result with SRT not being enabled for Windows. –  Aethylred Dec 6 '12 at 23:33
    
I have also read this post from Tobestool's blog and in particular this comment from Antonio. I'm just not quite following it well enough to be sure it delivers what I'm after. –  Aethylred Dec 6 '12 at 23:37
    
Another post that looks useful, but clearly seems to leave SRT disabled in Windows. –  Aethylred Dec 7 '12 at 0:23
    
As far as your 5-step process, you shouldn't need to fix any bootloaders. Once GRUB is installed, it would replace the longhorn loader and tends to auto-detect other operating systems. –  nerdwaller Dec 7 '12 at 1:41
    
I'd just format the computer and partition the 128GB SSD into two partitions and use the HDD as storage. My XPS 15 Laptop came set up to only use the SSD for the pagefile and the rest for storage, which was just a waste of space and performance. –  ekaj Dec 13 '12 at 1:39

1 Answer 1

The laptop has arrived, and it is very excellent, but the default operating system is Windows 8. I'll not be able to use it to answer this question, though I've asked a similar one where I get to start from scratch I suspect it will also work, but I'm not prepared to call this an answer without testing it.

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