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My laptop came with Win 8 preinstalled. When I installed Ubuntu originally, I had the guided install wipe out Windows for a Ubuntu-only system. However, this ignored my SSD and installed only to the HDD.

I am now reinstalling Ubuntu on the SSD (with ~/Music, ~/Photos, ~/Downloads, and ~/Videos remaining on the HDD and symlinked from Home). When I formatted the SSD, I created a 200MB EFI partition, a 4GB swap, and a ~28GB root partition. However, the new installation is ignoring the new EFI partition and using the 500mb EFI partition on the HDD, presumably left over from Windows 8.

Can I simply remove the EFI partition from the HDD, or do I need to take additional steps to maintain a usable system?

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If the SDD is before the hard disk in boot order, its EFI partition should be used. However, the bootloader may be the /EFI/Boot/bootx64.efi instead of anything in /EFI/ubuntu -- not sure how the SDD is treated by UEFI, as removable media or not. – ubfan1 Nov 30 '13 at 0:57
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I recommend you read up on how the EFI boot process works. For instance, my Web page on the topic may help, and in particular the "EFI Boot Principles" and "EFI Boot Loader Installation" pages.

Briefly, EFI does not make partitions or disks bootable. Instead, the EFI stores a list of boot loader files in its NVRAM. Any given EFI System Partition (ESP; the type of partition that holds boot loaders) can contain multiple boot loaders, and a computer can have multiple ESPs. If the partition on which a file resides is deleted, or if the file to which the NVRAM entry refers is deleted, then that entry will become useless. It may remain in NVRAM and be skipped or the firmware may try to clean up its NVRAM and remove the entry. Either way, it becomes useless. If the boot loader was useless (say, if it was for a Windows installation that you've deleted), then there's no harm in this. If you delete a boot loader (or its parent partition) that was in use, though, you'll damage the computer's ability to boot.

Incidentally, there's little advantage to putting an ESP on an SSD. The ESP is read once at boot time, and the files it contains are normally quite small. It will also be accessed on rare occasion when your boot loader is updated. Thus, the performance benefits from putting your ESP on an SSD will be tiny -- you'll probably shave a fraction of a second off of your boot time.

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Thanks for the reference. I wound up removing the new EFI partition, and all is well. – dericke Dec 2 '13 at 22:24

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