I've recently destroyed my old laptop... but I've saved the ssd. Inside there was a SSD with Ubuntu 19.04 on it and the disk is encrypted.

I've bought a new laptop, and added my old SSD on top of the one already inside the new laptop.

On the new SSD I have Ubuntu 19.10, and from there I can access the data of my old SSD but I was wondering if there was a way to make the old SSD bootable ? Maybe creating a MBR or something like that ?

In the BIOS/UEFI I can see the old SSD in the SATA disks, but it's not in the bootable options, and I've activated the PXE Legacy.

Thanks in advance

  • 1
    I've used the option offered at the installation of ubuntu to encrypt the whole disk. It's using luks – pyche Dec 6 '19 at 10:36
  • You should be able to set the old drive as first HDD. You can then boot into it and do an update-grub. That should add the new OS to the old disks grub menu. I have just set up a dual boot Ubuntu/Wiindows computer as such. – C.S.Cameron Dec 6 '19 at 12:16
  • Is old drive UEFI/gpt or BIOS/MBR? And new drive if UEFI should be gpt partitioned. Grub can only boot other installs in same boot mode. But directly from UEFI you can boot another install in different boot mode. If old drive is UEFI, grub should boot it. But if both installs are Ubuntu, you only get one "ubuntu" entry in UEFI for UEFI boot, you have to rename one or other. – oldfred Dec 6 '19 at 13:44

[First, you need to remove the old ESP on the old SSD, if there is any.]

You can boot an Ubuntu Live environment be it CD or USB.

[You could remove the old ESP with gparted or if you are brave with wipefs -a /dev/sdx? from the cli. Back it up if need be, of course.]

Once that is done, you just have to run update-grub but from within you old Ubuntu 19.04. To do that, you just chroot into it from within the Live env'.

  1. Mount your partition(s) after decrypting them, for example at /mnt/tmp
  2. Mount the new ESP at /mnt/tmp/boot/efi
  3. Prepare the chroot
    • mount -o /proc /mnt/tmp/proc
    • mount -o /sys /mnt/tmp/sys
    • mount -o /dev /mnt/tmp/dev
  4. chroot /mnt/tmp
  5. sudo update-grub
  6. exit
  7. for d in boot/efi proc dev sys; do umount /mnt/tmp/${d}; done
  8. umount /mnt/tmp
  9. close the encrypted container(s)
  10. reboot and there should be an entry in grub menu when booting now

[Removing the old ESP could be optional after all. Do as you want]


It's not worth it to run Ubuntu 19.04 from the old SSD because Ubuntu 19.04 will be end of life in January. It makes more sense to install Ubuntu 20.04 LTS on the old SSD when it is released in April, 2020. Ubuntu 20.04 will be supported for five years until 2025.

Before installing 20.04 you can backup a list of your manually installed packages, a list of your installed snap packages, bookmarks from web browsers, your Thunderbird address book which is a file in your Thunderbird profile named abook.mab, your Calibre Library, your subscriptions from Liferea, your notes from Gnote, etc. from Ubuntu 19.10. If you have any other applications installed that have extensions, back up a list of your installed extensions, one list for each application that has extensions. All of them except for the ebooks in the Calibre Library are text files that can be backed up to a USB flash drive. That will get you off to a good start with Ubuntu 20.04.

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  • but I've been using the old laptop for a year so I've plenty of settings and tweaks that I would like to keep. Maybe I could even clone the old disk on the new ssd if it can still be bootable ? (and thx for the quick answers) – pyche Dec 6 '19 at 10:39
  • Are these settings "user"based or "system"based? – FedonKadifeli Dec 6 '19 at 10:53
  • Thank you again for your time, your answer made me think : is it possible to create an image of the system and just recover from it ? And I think it's a naive question but just copy pasting the home folder wouldn't make it for the user based settings ? (will lose the system ones but that would still be better than nothing, cause yes I've both :s) – pyche Dec 6 '19 at 11:04
  • There's no point in backing up the user based settings from your home folder. The settings will be recreated when you install packages in the new OS. I included a list of things that won't be created automatically in my answer. Make sure that you backup those lists. Everything can be backed up to a USB flash drive – karel Dec 6 '19 at 11:22

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