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I'm posting this question after reading most of similar ones. My situation is different here in the fact that I'm installing on SSD and not partitioning my HDD, and that I can actually boot! I'm just looking to improve the convenience of having easier way to choose.

1- I have a Dell Inspiron 15R SE. It has HDD (1TB) and SSD (32GB). I managed to do whatever things I did in distant past to set the SSD free (I don't really care how fast my system boots). Now I wanted to install Linux on the SSD and leave the HDD untouched. It's way too precious for me to mess with it. So, I repartitioned the SSD to: 30GB for /root, 1GB for /swap, and 100MB for /boot. I installed Linux on the root and the GRUB on boot (of the SSD). Now GRUB immediately boots into linux and doesn't allow me to boot to Windows. BUT! If I enable UEFI Boot manager and choose "Windows Boot Manager" after hitting F12, I can boot into Windows 8 normally. I'd say that's pretty ok, except, I'd prefer to have the option to boot into which one or at the very least, default to boot to Windows.

2- I'm concerned that if I now delete the SSD partition, that the boot will break and I won't be able to boot anything! Does this seem like a valid concern? I made that choice of having linux on SSD because I'm going to be training on it, so I expect multiple resets from time to time.

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2 Answers 2

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If you installed Ubuntu in BIOS boot mode, you will never be able to boot Windows in UEFI mode from grub menu. BIOS/CSM is not compatible with UEFI, so once you start booting in one mode, you cannot switch to another mode, or once at grub menu cannot boot any other systems not in same boot mode.

Better to just partition SSD with gpt, create a 200 or 300MB efi partition and / partition. Either have no swap or perhaps put swap on hard drive.

If you installed Ubuntu in BIOS mode and SSD is gpt partitioned and you have an efi partition Boot-Repair will let you convert install from BIOS/CSM to UEFI. It may just use efi partition on hard drive if you do not have efi partition on SSD, and that is ok, but not preferred.

Still need to make sure Windows has fast boot off, and usually better to have secure boot off.

Installing Ubuntu on a Pre-Installed Windows 8 (64-bit) System (UEFI Supported)

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UEFI

How you boot installer UEFI or BIOS is how it will install Ubuntu.

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Linux and its complicated solutions and smart people, lol! I'll keep this in mind if I wanted to reformat the SSD. I don't think I'll do that though. I'd prefer to live with the inconvenience of only being able to boot to Windows with Secure Boot ON, and to Linux with Secure Boot OFF than to risk wiping my HDD or really, changing anything in it. Thank you though! This sure was very informative. I'm also going to try following some steps in the guide you linked. –  Mars Jun 5 at 0:46

You should be able to use the UEFI boot menu to choose Windows even if the SSD is empty. Just to be safe, you could only wipe the root / partition and not the /boot partition.

To address the original problem of booting straight to Ubuntu, you could try a couple things. Hopefully one of them will detect Windows and add the option during boot.

  • Run sudo update-grub in a terminal in Ubuntu

  • Run Boot Repair

As oldfred mentions, neither of these will back up your system. Boot Repair may back up some boot-related info, but that's it. It's always a good idea to back up your system. In this case, making changes with tools like Boot Repair should not cause you to lose any data, but it's better to be safe.

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I'll try these now and report back. Except, does boot repair wipe anything? I actually stumbled upon it before I ask and ran it to its UI, then when I wanted to run the fix option, it asked me to backup everything so I cancelled fearing that it might be willing to reset the entire hard drive (HDD). –  Mars Jun 5 at 0:45
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You should have backups of your entire system. What boot-Repair backs up are MBR, efi, and configurations or the report you see from BootInfo report. It does not backup entire system. –  oldfred Jun 5 at 4:18

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