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Can You Erase EFI and Install Only Ubuntu?

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Absolutely! It is entirely possible to erase all partitions on your computer, including the EFI partition, and install only Ubuntu. This article will guide you through the process, ensuring you understand each step and its implications.

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to erase EFI and install only Ubuntu.

Understanding EFI and ESP

Before we dive in, it’s crucial to understand what EFI and ESP are. EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) is a type of firmware that bridges the gap between your system’s hardware and operating system. On the other hand, the EFI System Partition (ESP) is a partition on your hard drive that holds boot loaders and other system utility programs used by the EFI.

Preparing for Installation

Before starting the installation process, you need to ensure your computer is set to boot in EFI mode. This can usually be done by changing the boot mode settings in your computer’s BIOS. If you are currently in legacy mode, it means that the Compatibility Support Module (CSM) is active, allowing both EFI and BIOS boot loaders to run. For a clean installation, it is recommended to disable the CSM.

Booting from Ubuntu Installation Media

When you boot from the Ubuntu installation media, you can choose to manually partition your disk or use the automatic partitioning option. If you select automatic partitioning, the Ubuntu installer will create new partitions for you, including the ESP if you install in EFI mode.

Manual Partitioning

If you choose to manually partition, you will need to create appropriate partitions, such as an ESP for EFI mode or a BIOS Boot Partition for BIOS mode on a GPT disk.

Choosing the Right Partition Table

It is generally recommended to use the GUID Partition Table (GPT) when installing in EFI mode and the Master Boot Record (MBR) when installing in BIOS mode. However, Ubuntu does allow using GPT in BIOS mode, although it may cause issues on some systems.

Checking Your Boot Mode

To determine your boot mode, you can check for the presence of the /sys/firmware/efi directory in Ubuntu. If it exists, you have booted in EFI mode; if it is absent, you have booted in BIOS mode.

You can use the following command to check:

ls /sys/firmware/efi

If the directory exists, the command will list its contents. If it does not, the command will return an error message.


In conclusion, you can indeed erase all partitions, including the EFI partition, and install only Ubuntu. It is recommended to disable the CSM and boot in EFI mode for a clean installation. Ensure that you match your boot mode (EFI or BIOS) with the appropriate partition table type (GPT or MBR). This process may seem daunting, but with careful preparation and understanding, it is entirely achievable.

Remember, always back up your data before making significant changes to your system. Happy Ubuntu installation!

Can I install Ubuntu without erasing the EFI partition?

Yes, it is possible to install Ubuntu without erasing the EFI partition. During the installation process, you can choose to manually partition your disk and select the existing EFI partition as the boot partition for Ubuntu.

Will erasing the EFI partition cause any problems?

Erasing the EFI partition will remove all the boot loaders and system utility programs stored in it. If you only plan to use Ubuntu as your operating system, it should not cause any problems. However, if you have other operating systems installed that rely on the EFI partition, they may become inaccessible.

Can I switch from BIOS mode to EFI mode without reinstalling Ubuntu?

Switching from BIOS mode to EFI mode usually requires reinstalling Ubuntu. EFI mode uses a different boot process and requires the creation of an EFI System Partition (ESP). It is recommended to perform a clean installation when switching boot modes.

How can I back up my data before making changes to my system?

To back up your data, you can copy important files and folders to an external storage device, such as a USB drive or an external hard drive. Alternatively, you can use a cloud storage service to upload your files for safekeeping.

Can I use a different partition table type than what is recommended?

While it is generally recommended to use GPT for EFI mode and MBR for BIOS mode, Ubuntu does allow using GPT in BIOS mode. However, using GPT in BIOS mode may cause compatibility issues on some systems. It is best to follow the recommended partition table type for your boot mode unless you have specific reasons not to.

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