Woes with installing KDE neon

I tried to install KDE neon for about a week before finally succeeding, and I am inclined to share my turmoil with hope that the installation software or user instructions will be improved. I apologize if this is not posted in the right section.

I am a Linux newb, having not used any distro in about fifteen years. I use a new ASUS laptop with Windows 11, and installed KDE neon user edition (downloaded April 12, 2024) on an SD card, which also held the bootable installer on a separate partition. The most significant problem that cost me so many hours was that the installer, i.e. Calamares, could not create partitions on my SD card, and was very unclear in communicating why. I still do not have a solid answer for what was going wrong. I finally succeeded by learning to manually partition and doing so with KDE’s partitioner, then using Calamares in “manual partition” mode and setting the mount points by only editing the partitions. The partitions could not be flagged, except the /efi/boot one with boot, because no other flags were available (root & swap), but the OS seems to be working without them.
These points are the most I can identify about the problem:

  • I don’t know if this was caused by the SD card being the live drive, but the partitions targeted for installation were not mounted.
  • I could not identify if this was caused by the SD card’s hidden attributes. This possibility was just implied to me once in my search for help.
  • I identified two errors which were stopping the installer, in different scenarios: the first was when I attempted with “replace partition”, the installer stopped on mkfs.
  • The second was when I attempted with “manual partition” and created the first as FAT32 for the EFI, the installer stopped on fatlabel. When I attempted this command in the console, it required root permission. Running it with sudo succeeded, but I could not figure out how to transfer this solution to Calamares.

In the course of succeeding with installation, I relied on internet searches & various websites because the official help pages are lacking, [KDE neon FAQ] and [Installing KDE neon - KDE UserBase Wiki]. To make this accessible to more users, more information is needed about creating bootable drives and installation options for various circumstances. I know that the community wants contributors, but I’m still unqualified rewrite anything because I’ve learned from only my case, and I still don’t fully understand why my problem occurred or why my solution worked. The least that would be helpful are links to other helpful articles.

Use a USB stick for the installer,. Trying to run the installer from the same device you are trying to install to may be part of the problem. The other problem is doing so from an SD card, which is extremely poor at constant simultaneous reads and writes.

Using sdcards for running a full desktop OS is imnsho a bad idea. Having said that, I used to do so all the time :smiley:
Use a decent USB thumb drive instead, if possible. It will be a much better experience. Plus an extra one of some sort to use for installer ISOs

Also, it can help to try different tools to create the install disk, they are not all identical. Etcher is my go to, but Ventoy makes things drag and drop simple.
Re-downloading a fresh ISO can be helpful, especially as the current one for neon is from yesterday. It is updated weekly-ish.

Indeed my circumstances are unusual, but I didn’t make such choices because they were great: I had a spare SD card of 64 GB and without purpose, and I didn’t have a USB drive of at least 3 GB to hold the installer, and definitely didn’t want to buy one solely for this purpose and without guarantee that installation would finally work. By all accounts, I don’t expect this card to last long, but I won’t miss it when it’s gone.

So far the OS is running well, and the worst problem is that booting Windows 11 afterwards (from the main drive) is very slow - minutes longer than my ten-year-old computers. I don’t intend to do anything computationally intensive with the card, and I always keep my files backed up.