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Preparing a Disk on an EFI PC for Ubuntu

Ubuntu 12

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of preparing a disk on an EFI PC for Ubuntu. This process involves creating appropriate partitions on your disk and configuring your system to boot Ubuntu from these partitions. We’ll cover two methods: using the GNOME Partition Editor (GParted) and using the built-in Ubuntu installer.

Quick Answer

To prepare a disk on an EFI PC for Ubuntu, you can use either the GNOME Partition Editor (GParted) or the built-in Ubuntu installer. Both methods involve creating appropriate partitions, including a small FAT32 partition for EFI binaries and a larger partition for the Ubuntu system. Remember to back up any important data before proceeding, as these processes will erase all data on the disk.

Understanding EFI and GPT

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand what EFI and GPT are. EFI, or Extensible Firmware Interface, is a specification for the interface between the operating system and the firmware. It is a modern standard for booting systems and is generally recommended over the older BIOS system.

GPT, or GUID Partition Table, is a standard for the layout of the partition table on a physical hard disk. It is a part of the EFI standard and is also recommended for modern systems, especially those with disks larger than 2TB.

Preparing a Disk Using GParted

GParted is a powerful, free and open-source partition editor. You can use it to resize, move, and manage disk partitions on your PC.

Step 1: Boot from Ubuntu Installation Media

First, you’ll need to boot your PC from the Ubuntu installation media. This could be a USB stick or a DVD.

Step 2: Open GParted

Once you’ve booted into Ubuntu, open GParted. You can find it in the Ubuntu software center or you can install it via the terminal with the command sudo apt-get install gparted.

Step 3: Select the Disk

In GParted, select the disk you want to prepare for Ubuntu from the drop-down menu at the top right.

Step 4: Create a New Partition Table

To create a new partition table, go to the “Device” menu, then “Create Partition Table”. Choose the “gpt” option. This will delete all data on the disk, so make sure you have a backup of any important data.

Step 5: Create the Necessary Partitions

Next, you’ll need to create the necessary partitions. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A small FAT32 partition (around 256-512 MB) with the “boot” and “esp” flags. This partition will be used for EFI binaries.
  • A partition for the Ubuntu system. This should be at least 20GB and use the ext4 file system.

To create a partition, right-click on the unallocated space and select “New”. Choose the appropriate options for each partition.

Step 6: Apply the Changes

Once you’ve set up the partitions, click the green checkmark to apply the changes. Wait for GParted to complete the tasks.

Step 7: Install Ubuntu

With the partitions created, you can now install Ubuntu. Boot from the Ubuntu installation media again, select “Try Ubuntu without installing”, and open the installer. When prompted for the installation type, choose “Something else”. Then, select the ext4 partition you created as the mount point (“/”) and choose ext4 as the file system. Proceed with the installation.

Preparing a Disk Using the Ubuntu Installer

If you prefer not to use GParted, you can also prepare the disk using the built-in Ubuntu installer.

Step 1: Boot from Ubuntu Installation Media

As with the GParted method, you’ll need to boot from the Ubuntu installation media.

Step 2: Choose Installation Type

In the installer, you can choose one of the “Use whole disk” options for a simple setup. If you want to customize the partition layout, select “Something else”.

Step 3: Create the Necessary Partitions

Just like in the GParted method, you’ll need a small FAT partition for EFI binaries and a larger partition for the Ubuntu system. The installer will guide you through this process.

Step 4: Install Ubuntu

With the partitions set up, you can proceed with the installation.

Conclusion

Preparing a disk on an EFI PC for Ubuntu involves creating appropriate partitions and configuring your system to boot from these partitions. Whether you choose to use GParted or the Ubuntu installer, the process is straightforward if you follow the steps carefully. Remember to back up any important data before you begin, as these processes will erase all data on the disk.

What is the difference between EFI and BIOS?

EFI, or Extensible Firmware Interface, is a modern standard for booting systems and is recommended over the older BIOS system. EFI provides a more flexible and secure boot process compared to BIOS.

Why is GPT recommended for modern systems?

GPT, or GUID Partition Table, is recommended for modern systems, especially those with disks larger than 2TB. GPT allows for more partitions, supports larger disk sizes, and provides better data integrity and fault tolerance compared to the older MBR (Master Boot Record) partitioning scheme.

Can I use GParted on other Linux distributions?

Yes, GParted is a free and open-source partition editor that can be used on various Linux distributions, not just Ubuntu. You can install it via the package manager of your distribution or download it from the official GParted website.

Do I need to create a separate partition for EFI binaries?

Yes, it is necessary to create a small FAT32 partition (around 256-512 MB) with the "boot" and "esp" flags. This partition will be used for storing EFI binaries, which are essential for the EFI boot process.

Can I use a different file system for the Ubuntu system partition?

While the ext4 file system is commonly used for Ubuntu system partitions, you can choose a different file system if you prefer. However, it is important to ensure that the chosen file system is compatible with Ubuntu and supports all the necessary features.

Will preparing the disk erase all my data?

Yes, preparing the disk for Ubuntu will delete all data on the disk. It is crucial to back up any important data before proceeding with the partitioning process to avoid data loss.

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