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I am new to Linux, and would like to achieve the following:

I want to install Ubuntu Studio on a separate hard drive, and then use the Linux boot selector to decide if I want to log into Windows (7) or Ubuntu each time the PC boot.

The separate hard drive will be dedicated to Ubuntu Studio. I will have to format that drive using the correct Linux formats to clear it from a previous attempt to install Ubuntu Studio.

The Hard Drives are will be as follows

Drive 0 = Windows 7 with BIOS: American Megatrends Inc. version 3602

Drive 1 = Program Files for Windows

Drive 2 = Media storage

Drive 3 = Dedicated Ubuntu Drive

The question is this:

  1. What are the partition requirements to run Ubuntu Studio on the hard drive? Do I need separate partition for each of the following and what settings and size should I use?

    1.1. Primary Partition with the largest space for the main installation ext4 format. I assume Primary?

    1.2. EFI partition, size? Logical or Primary?

    1.3. Swap partition, size? Format?

  2. I assume the device for boot loader will be the same hard drive as A) above?

  3. I have read that it is best to disconnect the other hard drives when installing Ubuntu?

  • How will I see that partition? It does not show anything like that in Explorer? Thanks! – Linux Novice May 19 at 17:05
  • Hi, so in Computer Management I see that the drive with Windows OS does NOT have EFI partition. The only drive with EFI partition is Drive 3 on which I tried to install Ubuntu over the weekend. – Linux Novice May 19 at 17:10
  • Thank you, is the updated question clearer? – Linux Novice May 19 at 17:20
  • Only because you have multiple drives, can you have Ubuntu in UEFI/gpt mode & Windows in 35 year old BIOS/MBR mode. But you then cannot dual boot from grub only from UEFI boot menu. Be sure to only use Something Else and best to disconnect drives or in UEFI temporarily set to disabled. If you do not disconnect drive: Posted work around to manually unmount & mount correct ESP during install #23 & #26 bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ubiquity/+bug/1396379 – oldfred May 19 at 17:28
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    @user68186 I appreciate the corrections! I'm unable to test (for lack of extra hardware), but I've done many dual-boot, separate drive, installations over the years with Windows, and Ubuntu and I could have been sure that the "alongside" option worked on a separate drive. It has me curious so I will keep an eye out for it next time. – Nmath May 20 at 3:35
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This answer is only for BIOS (not UEFI) and Windows 7

Note to Others:

Those with Windows 8 and above trying UEFI install on two separate drives see Dual Booting win 10 and Ubuntu 18.04 on two separate physical ssds

End of Note to Others

I assume you will be installing the latest version of Ubuntu Studio 20.04. Since Windows is installed in BIOS (Legacy) mode, I recommend you install Ubuntu in the same mode. I will answer your questions first and then give some pointers about Legacy boot install.

Questions and Answers:

The question is this:

1) What are the partition requirements to run Ubuntu Studio on the hard drive? Do I need separate partition for each of the following and what settings and size should I use?

Modern Ubuntu (and therefore Ubuntu Studio) can use only one partition as the system partition / and does not need any other partitions.

1.1) Primary Partition with largest space for the main installation ext4 format. I assume Primary?

Since this will be a dedicated drive for Ubuntu Studio. A single primary partition formatted ext4 and with the mountpoint / is what you need. You can use all of the space in the drive to make this single partition at the time of installation.

1.2) EFI partition, size? Logical or Primary?

Since Windows 7 does not use UEFI, you should install Ubuntu in Legacy (BIOS) mode. This mode of Ubuntu installation does not need (and will not create) an EFI partition.

1.3) Swap partition, size? Format?

Ubuntu 20.04 uses a swap file by default. You don't need a swap partition unless you want to hibernate your computer to disk when Ubuntu is running. The swap partition is not formatted. You select Linux-Swap from the drop down menu.

Hibernating does not work on all computers and is disabled in Ubuntu by default. Only if you plan to enable and use hibernate, you will want a swap partition. The swap partition size should be 1.5 ties the size of RAM your computer has.

2) I assume the device for boot loader will be the same hard drive as A) above?

Since you will be using BIOS (Legacy) and not UEFI, and you are using Windows 7, the boot loader can go to either Drive 0 (Windows) or Drive 3.

If you put the bootoader in Drive 0, then you will not need to make any changes in BIOS.

However, putting the Ubuntu bootloader in Drive 0 (Windows) this is not recommended especially if you plan to upgrade Windows to a more recent version in the future. Thanks oldfred for extensive comments. Among other things, an upgrade (sometimes just an update) of Windows will overwrite the Ubuntu bootloader with the Windows bootloader and make Ubuntu unbootable.

If you put the bootloader in Drive 3, you will need to make Drive 3 the first boot drive in the BIOS settings.

In this case the first time you boot after connecting all the drives and changing the boot order to boot from Drive 3, the computer will boot straight to Ubuntu and won't show grub with a choice to boot Windows 7. This is normal.

After booting into Ubuntu from Drive 3 for the first time, open a terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T and enter the command:

sudo update-grub

Enter your Ubuntu password when prompted and press enter. The cursor won't move and you won't see any *****. This is normal.

Next time you boot the computer you should see the option to choose between Windows and Ubuntu. Note: always select the whole drive in the bootloader drive selection menu. For example it may be /dev/sda (for Drive 0) or /dev/sdd (for Drive 3), never /dev/sda1 or /dev/sdd.

3) I have read that it is best to disconnect the other hard drives when installing Ubuntu?

Disconnecting all the hard drives (other than 3) will allow you to use the default installation of Ubuntu. This also eliminates the possibility of you making a mistake and installing Ubuntu in the wrong drive and thus, deleting everything that was there in that drive for ever.

You don't have to choose:

  • "Something Else..."
  • Partition and format the hard drive yourself. (You just select the option to use the whole drive and erase everything.)
  • Decide where to put the Ubuntu bootloader. (The installer will automatically put it on Drive 3, the only connected drive)

You have two options:

  • You can choose "Erase Disk and Install Ubuntu". This will use the whole Drive 3 and put the Ubuntu bootloader in Drive 3.

enter image description here

Once you click Install Now button you will be shown how the Drive 3 will be used, as below:

enter image description here

Note: Since only the drive for Ubuntu installation is connected it is designated as /dev/sda in the above picture.

The above picture is interpreted as, installer will create an extended partition /dev/sda1, and a single logical partition /dev/sda5 formatted ext4 inside it.

  • You can choose "Something Else..." and select and setup mountpoint, partition types, and remember to format the partition(s) etc.

Here the simplest option would be to create a single primary partition /dev/sda1 spanning the whole Drive 3, assign it the mountpoint / and format it ext4.

Keeping the drives connected while installing Ubuntu is also possible. You may want to do this if you have never opened a computer case and don't want to unplug and plug cables inside the computer.

  • You can choose "Install alongside Windows 7" if drive 3 (Ubuntu) has MBR (GPT should work too) but has only unallocated space. That is, all existing partitions are removed before installation. Thanks NMath for the comments.

enter image description here

Once you click Install Now button you will be shown how the Drive 3 will be used, as below:

enter image description here

Note: Since both the drive with Window (Windows 10 in my case) and new drive for Ubuntu installation are connected the Ubuntu Drive is designated as /dev/sdb in the above picture. Yours may be different.

Warning: If you see the option to resize the the Windows partition in Drive 0, then abort installation as Drive 3 was not detected properly.

Note: If you use this easy option you won't get a chance to select where to put the Ubuntu bootloader.

  • You can choose "Something Else..." and select the correct drive and setup mountpoint, partition types, and remember to format the partition etc.

This will also allow you to put the bootloader in the drive 0 or Drive 3. See question 2.

Install Ubuntu in Legacy Mode

Whether Ubuntu will install in UEFI mode or in Legacy mode depends on how you boot from the Live installation USB.

You typically press a key to get to the boot menu when the computer boots with the USB plugged in. The menu may give you two options:

  • USB something UEFI or UEFI something USB
  • USB something BIOS/Legacy/CSM or BIOS/Legacy/CSM something USB

Choose the one that does not say UEFI.

If you boot from the USB in the BIOS/Legacy mode you will see:

(Note: these images are from an older version of standard Ubuntu installation. Yours may look different.)

enter image description here

Immediately followed by:

enter image description here

If you see something like this, you have booted in UEFI mode. Reboot and try again:

enter image description here

Hope this helps

| improve this answer | |
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    @Nmath I have now added instructions on fixing this issue of directly booting to Ubuntu if OP puts the bootloader in Drive 3 (Ubuntu). I am not recommending that OP disconnects other drives. OP asked about this option in the question and comments. I give the choice to do it either way. – user68186 May 19 at 20:22
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    Only with BIOS install, can you keep all drives connected as you can choose in partitioning screen where to install grub with Something Else. You absolutely want grub on Ubuntu drive with multiple drive systems and keep Windows boot loader on its drive. Less critical with Windows 7, but vital with newer Windows. Grub only boots working Windows and if grub in Windows drive, you have to have Windows repair disk (which you should have anyway, or Boot-Repair (which you should have anyway) to temporarily install Windows boot loader to be able to fix Windows. If each has own, then ues BIOS to boot. – oldfred May 19 at 20:37
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    Yes, particularly with Windows 8 or 10. Grub only boots working Windows. And Windows 8 or 10 with updates may turn fast start up back on and then grub will not boot Windows. Or all versions may need chkdsk. So then you need Windows boot loader & f8 for internal repairs or Windows repair/recovery disk. With UEFI, it is like having two MBRs as they are in separate folders in ESP. I also suggest using gpt for any system with Ubuntu only on a drive whether UEFI or BIOS. I converted to BIOS/gpt back in 2010 with my BIOS only system. But you have to have a bios_grub partition if gpt. – oldfred May 19 at 21:43
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    @oldfred I have included your recommendation not to put the grub bllotloader in Windows drive in the answer. – user68186 May 20 at 14:01
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    @LinuxNovice there is no need to thank me. If you find the answer particularly useful you can up-vote the answer. Don't forget to mark it as correct if you think so. This will help others. – user68186 May 20 at 20:59

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