Adding hard disk to Lenovo Yoga 300-11IBY

First, let me introduce the machine. This is a very cheap laptop, definitely from the lower end of Lenovo Yoga series. This doesn't mean that it is not a damn good and usable machine. Here are the specs in the original configuration that it came to me (as found on the manufacturer website):

As you can see it only had 32GB eMMC internal memory and given the 360 degree display and low powered, passive cooling cpu it could be taken as a tablet with physical keyboard rather than a laptop :)

Running Linux on Yoga 300

I had it for a year and it worked marvelously running Debian. Of course, not all of the hardware was working, from the top of my head:

Yet overall this was a very decent configuration for writing, browsing the web & as an occasional movie player. The performance compared with the Windows 10 that came preloaded strongly favoured the Free OS.

The default graphical environment on Debian -- Gnome 3 that supported (not in all cases) usage of onscreen keyboard was already faster then the bloated operating system from Microsoft. But loading this machine with lightweight XFCE was a godsend for increase in usability of this laptop and truly showed where the open source software shines. Without the bloat the machine turned into a comfortable and fast everyday laptop.

The problem with eMMC internal storage

This unfortunately ended when the eMMC seemed to be failing and I needed to find some better disk to use with this machine. Fortunately, as it turns out there is a possibility of adding a disk. Because failing eMMC that is soldiered on to the motherboard would require significantly more electronics knowledge than I posses.

Everything started with after one update when the system simply wouldn't boot. Fortunately, all of the files could be recovered with a live USB distro and a storage card.

Now to tackle the problem I needed to order the "New Lenovo Yoga 300 flex 3-1120 3 1120 HDD Hard Drive Caddy Bracket + HDD Cable" from eBay, which to translate from keyword to plain English is a SATA cable that fit into the motherboard as well as brackets for holding the disk down. The price wasn't very good as I had to pay ~36$ for those small parts. But that is still cheaper than buying a new laptop.

Then I looked for a disk. Since this machine was working fine on 32GB previously I didn't look for something big. In the end I settled on a 120GB Crucial SSD. It's worth noting that it needed to be a 7mm thick since there isn't a lot of room in the chassis of this laptop (this was another ~25$).

Assembly was very easy. I found a video that really helped me along the way - you can find it here:

This is not exactly my configuration since there is a proper disk there but it certainly helped me to figure out how to position the disk inside.

Installing new system

Unfortunately, installing Debian on the SSD wasn't feasible for me. I blame the UEFI weirdness. After several failed attempts with different setting for UEFI I gave up and loaded a Fedora XFCE spin on my USB to see if it would work.

The installation went smoothly. It notified me that installation of grub failed, which irritated me a bit. With resignation I allowed the installation process to continue, thinking - that I'll sort out the issue afterwards.

Fortunately after reboot the UEFI found the system on SSD and booted. Finally I can claim partial victory, but I need to pay close attention to the next updates to see if it can potentially mess with UEFI again.

I hope this helps anyone who might want to upgrade their machine or has UEFI related problems with Linux.

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