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How To Install Ubuntu without UEFI: A Guide to Avoiding Compatibility Issues

Ubuntu 7

In the world of Linux distributions, Ubuntu is a popular choice for its ease of use and robust community support. However, when it comes to installing Ubuntu, you may encounter compatibility issues related to the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). This guide will walk you through how to install Ubuntu without UEFI, thereby avoiding potential compatibility issues.

Understanding UEFI

Before we delve into the installation process, it’s important to understand what UEFI is. UEFI is a specification that defines a software interface between an operating system and platform firmware. It is intended to replace the traditional BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) firmware interface. While UEFI offers certain advantages such as support for larger storage media with GPT partitioning, it can sometimes cause compatibility issues, especially with older hardware.

Method 1: Install via MinimalCD

One way to avoid UEFI during the installation of Ubuntu is to use the MinimalCD installation method. This method lacks the necessary files for booting in UEFI mode, forcing the computer to boot in BIOS compatibility mode and install Ubuntu in BIOS mode.

To do this, download the MinimalCD image from the Ubuntu website. During the installation, you can choose your desired display (XFCE4, Unity, Gnome, etc.).

Please note that the installer-iso was removed in April 2022, so finding it on a mirror might be challenging.

Method 2: Install an Older Ubuntu Version and Upgrade

Another method is to install an older version of Ubuntu (e.g., 12 or 14.04) without UEFI. Ensure you can boot this version successfully. Then, install the desired recent version (e.g., 21) without selecting a boot option during installation.

After installation, boot into the old version and run update-grub. This command updates the GRUB bootloader with the information about the operating systems installed on your computer. Then, run install grub to enable booting the new Ubuntu version without UEFI.

Method 3: Enable Legacy OS Boot in BIOS

In your BIOS settings, enable Legacy OS boot or a similar option. The name and functionality of this option may vary depending on your BIOS. Enabling this option allows you to install Ubuntu in BIOS mode instead of UEFI mode.

To access your BIOS settings, restart your computer and press the designated key (usually F2, F10, or Del) during the startup process. Navigate through your BIOS settings to find the appropriate option.

Method 4: Delete the EFI Partition on the USB Stick

After using the dd command to write the Ubuntu ISO file to a USB stick, there will be two partitions on the stick, including an EFI/UEFI partition. Insert the stick into a Linux machine and use fdisk to delete the EFI partition.

The dd command is a Unix utility for converting and copying files. The fdisk command is a disk partition manipulation program. By deleting the EFI partition, you remove the UEFI-related complications during installation and allow for a smooth and simple installation without UEFI.

Method 5: Install in a Qemu Virtual Machine with UEFI Disabled

If you have a Qemu virtual machine, you can disable UEFI booting and install Ubuntu in the virtual machine. This method involves connecting the target hard disk to another computer, removing existing partitions, setting up required partitions, copying the Ubuntu ISO onto the disk, and launching the installer in Qemu with UEFI disabled.

Qemu is a generic and open-source machine emulator and virtualizer. By disabling UEFI booting in Qemu, you can install Ubuntu without UEFI.

Conclusion

While UEFI can offer certain advantages, it can also cause compatibility issues during the installation of Ubuntu. By following the methods outlined in this guide, you can successfully install Ubuntu without UEFI. Remember, the choice between UEFI and BIOS largely depends on your specific needs and hardware capabilities. Always ensure you have backed up your data before making any significant changes to your system.

What is UEFI?

UEFI stands for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. It is a specification that defines a software interface between an operating system and platform firmware. It replaces the traditional BIOS firmware interface.

What are the advantages of UEFI?

UEFI offers advantages such as support for larger storage media with GPT partitioning, faster boot times, improved security features, and more advanced graphics capabilities.

Why would I want to install Ubuntu without UEFI?

Some older hardware may have compatibility issues with UEFI. Installing Ubuntu without UEFI can help avoid these compatibility issues and ensure a smoother installation process.

How can I install Ubuntu without UEFI?

There are several methods you can try. You can use the MinimalCD installation method, install an older Ubuntu version and upgrade, enable Legacy OS boot in BIOS, delete the EFI partition on the USB stick, or install in a Qemu virtual machine with UEFI disabled.

Where can I download the MinimalCD image?

You can download the MinimalCD image from the Ubuntu website. However, please note that as of April 2022, the installer-iso was removed, so finding it on a mirror might be challenging.

How do I access my BIOS settings?

To access your BIOS settings, restart your computer and press the designated key during the startup process. The key to access BIOS settings is usually F2, F10, or Del, but it may vary depending on your computer’s manufacturer.

What is Qemu?

Qemu is a generic and open-source machine emulator and virtualizer. It allows you to run operating systems and programs designed for one machine on another machine.

Is it necessary to backup my data before installing Ubuntu without UEFI?

It is always recommended to backup your data before making any significant changes to your system, including installing Ubuntu without UEFI. This ensures that your data is protected in case of any unexpected issues during the installation process.

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