My laptop Thinkpad T400 now runs 12.04 on a small hard drive. I plan to replace the hard drive with a bigger one, and install 14.04 on the new drive. The new drive is just bought as brand new, and raw

I want to avoid the limitations of MBR, and want to use GPT for the disk.

I also want to use EFI partition, because I heard that it is the default on modern computers :

you must have a BIOS-Boot or an EFI partition depending on the boot mode of your BIOS. you will need either an EFI partition (if your BIOS is set up in EFI mode, which is default on more and more modern, > year 2011 computers) or a BIOS-Boot partition (if your BIOS is set up in Legacy mode).

So I wonder how I install 14.04 on the raw hard drive?

  1. My laptop is T400, bought in 2009, and can I make my drive and partitions GPT and EFI?
  2. Does the following steps work?

    • download 64-bit 14.04 to my flash drive
    • replace the hard drive of my laptop with the new and raw one
    • insert my flash drive into my laptop's usb port
    • power on my laptop
    • press F2 to enter the BIOS of my laptop? and set up booting from my flash drive?
    • (presumably, the 64 bit 14.04 installation program will run?)

    where in the steps can I set up GPT and EFI for my new raw drive?

My questions and confusions come from not understanding oldfred's comment on my previous post:

I have always partitioned in advance with gparted. Set to gpt before anything else in device, advanced options. How you boot installer is how it installs, UEFI or BIOS. And only with Something Else, do you get the options for more than the default / & swap.



If your system comes pre-installed with UEFI firmware (which is a BIOS replacement) and you want the novelty and the experience, then keep it!

If your system doesn't come with UEFI: don't bother as UEFI was supposed to give us more freedom, but most vendors use it to lock you in and take your freedom away!

GPT is an entirely different question: Go for it! Finally more then 4 primary partitions per disk! The only disadvantage is that you'll have to give up on old trusty fdisk and use parted instead.

parted /dev/XdY

(where X and Y are very probably "s" and "a"). Then:

mklabel gpt

and hit Y

From the GUI, start gparted, menu device, partition table , GPT. :-)

  • Thanks. How can I set up GPT on a new drive in T400? – Tim Mar 8 '15 at 22:58
  • Thanks for the edit! Will I run parted /dev/XdY and mklabel gpt in my curent 12.04 on the new drive externally connected to my T400 by an sata-usb adapter,or after I replace my drive with the new one and running the 14.04 installation program from the bootable stick? – Tim Mar 8 '15 at 23:15
  • Is mklabel a command run in terminal, or inside parted? I saw mklabel as a command given to parted before. – Tim Mar 8 '15 at 23:19
  • If I were you, I would run gparted on your new drive in an external USB enclosure before removing your old internal drive... – Fabby Mar 8 '15 at 23:19
  • mklabel is an internal parted command... – Fabby Mar 8 '15 at 23:20

There are two separate (but related) technological dichotomies that you seem to be conflating, at least a bit:

  • BIOS vs. EFI/UEFI -- This is the type of firmware in the computer; it's software that's built in to chip(s) on the motherboard. Since the 1980s, PCs have used Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) firmware, but the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) was developed in the 1990s, lurked for over a decade as an obscure option on Itanium systems, was adopted by Apple for its Intel-based Macs, and has most recently been used as a BIOS replacement on the vast majority of PCs sold since mid-2011 or thereabouts. (EFI 2.x is known as the Unified EFI, or UEFI.) Although some PCs used EFI prior to 2011, chances are your 2009 laptop is not one of them, so you really can't use EFI on it. (You might be able to get a "software EFI" such as DUET or Clover to work on your system, but this is more trouble than it's worth for most people.)
  • MBR vs. GPT -- PCs have historically used the Master Boot Record (MBR) partitioning system. This is just a set of standards for how to arrange data on the disk so that the OS can find the partitions. EFI includes a new partitioning system known as the GUID Partition Table (GPT), which eliminates many MBR kludges and limitations. Although GPT is defined as part of the EFI specification, it may be used even on older BIOS-based computers. GPTs biggest advantages are with disks over 2TiB in size, which MBR can't handle. On smaller disks, GPT has several minor advantages, but nothing compelling enough to make switching to it a necessity for most users. Note that some OSes, including Windows, cannot boot from GPT disks except in EFI mode -- and of course most older OSes, such as DOS and most versions of Windows prior to Vista SP1, can't boot in EFI mode or use GPT even for data disks.

The term "EFI partition" is somewhat ambiguous because that is not, AFAIK, an official moniker. In the paragraph you quoted, it seems to be referring to an EFI System Partition (ESP), which is a partition on which EFI boot loaders and similar EFI tools are stored. An ESP is 100% useless on a BIOS-based computer, so if your laptop is BIOS-based, as I suspect, there's no point in creating an ESP even if you use GPT. BIOS-based computers that have GPT disks and boot with GRUB instead use a BIOS Boot Partition, which is a small (typically 1MiB) partition that holds part of GRUB. The BIOS Boot Partition is identified in different ways depending on the partitioning tool you use. In parted, GParted, and other libparted-based tools, it has a bios_grub flag set. In gdisk and its siblings, it's identified by a type code of EF02.

If you pre-partition your disk and want to use GPT, create a BIOS Boot Partition and whatever other partitions you'd normally use. If you anticipate eventually moving the disk to a newer EFI-based computer, you might create an ESP, too, but that's almost certainly just a (small) waste of disk space at this time. (ESPs are typically 100-600MiB in size.)

  • 1
    If your system is BIOS only, you can use gpt, but then cannot install Windows without reformatting back to MBR. Windows only boots from gpt partitioned drives with UEFI. Ubuntu can boot with either BIOS or UEFI from gpt if correct supporting partitions are on drive. – oldfred Mar 8 '15 at 21:36
  • Thanks. (1) I will install Windows under Virtual Box under Ubuntu. (2) my new drive is 1TB. (3) can I replace my hard drive with the new one, and insert a bootable usb stick to format and partition the new drive and install 14.04? If not, how can I deal with the new raw drive? – Tim Mar 8 '15 at 21:38
  • (4) overall shall I set up GPT or MBR? If GPT, how to do that then? – Tim Mar 8 '15 at 21:48

I have a different solution:

  1. Boot the latest Ubuntu Live CD (at this stage don't install it fully - just try it.

  2. Start GParted

  3. Using Gparted, erase / delete / wipe the whole disk by following the instructions given over here. Don't be put off by the "usb-stick" moniker: the instructions work for the hard disk too. I used this answer. Remember to click the green arrow to execute the process (i.e. to execute the processes you have selected).

  4. When you have erased the disk, create a single partition with file format ext4. Don't do anything more than that - just create the partition and the file system - the boot sequence and flag will be loaded / selected automatically in the next step.

  5. Now, select the option to fully install Ubuntu - it will write to the partition and put the grub and boot-loader in the right places. You will be prompted to restart. Do so...

  6. Then you will be asked to remove the CD (or USB stick if that is what you used) and press "Enter" - do so.

  7. Ubuntu will now reboot and reload

Now you'll have Ubuntu running beautifully without any Microsoft around - Heaven!

  • Here is the difference (which I do make clear in the post): the person who posed the problem (Tim) finally answered his own question (see above) - he reinstalled Windows - i.e. an EFI partition (installed automatically by Windows). I made it very clear in my post that I did not want anything Microsoft on my computer - so, his solution was not suitable for me - I then found the answer to the problem WITHOUT the use a Windows re-installation - I now have ONLY Linux / Ubuntu on my system. Perhaps you might apologise for your aggressive post - but I suspect won't. – Duncan Jan 31 '17 at 13:16
  • Please review my edits and improve even further. Also read How do I write a good answer. My apologies for you interpreting my comment as aggressive. I hope I got my point across now. – Fabby Feb 1 '17 at 10:24
  • Happy with your edits - more elegant. Thank you. I'm glad you now see the difference and now seem to understand that I was / am trying to be helpful. ;-) – Duncan Feb 2 '17 at 11:49

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