Ubuntu: what is the correct and reliable way to freshly install Ubuntu Gnome in an NVMe SSD with UEFI enabled?



Question:

I have been struggling for more than 3 days to successfully install Ubuntu Gnome with UEFI enabled. I have an NVMe SSD where I'd like to install my OS and additional SSD where I'd like to have the /home for efficiency.

I followed some guides for doing so but I end up with a blank screen where there is no way to enter my login details; thus the (installed) OS is unbootable. The only way to enter & access the system is to reboot and select the option try Ubuntu without installing and then make changes to the disk using GParted.

Even with this, I'm unable to boot it. The issue could be because I deleted the Microsoft Reserved Partition that came as default (without any installed OS though); And then, I created my own partition in NVMe SSD where the very first partition is EFI System Partition (ESP) and the second partition is the swap space and the rest is where I installed the / root filesystem.

I think I'm doing the ESP partition in a correct way; First I create a partition of 550 MiB which is the recommended space for a Linux installation, with the file system format being FAT32 which is again a recommended format for UEFI partition, and then set the flags to boot,esp by checking them; And I also gave the label as EFI.

For rest of the partitions, I always use the ext4 filesystems.

For creating Live USB with Ubuntu Gnome ISO, first I formatted a 16GB generic flash drive using GParted with filesystem being FAT32. Then, I used UNetbootin to write the ISO image file to USB but I'm not completely sure whether using UNetbootin is the correct way to create a UEFI enabled Live USB for Ubuntu Gnome.

update: I disabled fast boot, secure boot, and Intel RST (i.e. I don't use a RAID volume); Instead I enabled AHCI mode. I have nVidia GTX 1070 video card and Core i7 processor.

What could be the issues?


Solution:1

I finally managed to figure out the issue: the usage of UNetbootin for creating Live USB.

So, do not use UNetbootin for creating a Live USB with UEFI-enabled installation. Instead, the correct way to create a Live USB is to use the Startup Disk Creator from some working Ubuntu systems.

1) Creating Live USB (Reference guide)

  • First, format the USB with (FAT-32) filesystem using GParted. (No need to set the boot,esp flag in USB)
  • Then launch Startup Disk Creator and select the ISO image and target device which is the USB that we want it to make bootable. (Most of the times, Ubuntu does this automatically if ISO image is present & USB is mounted properly)
  • It will take 2-4 mins for the process to be completed. Then you'll get the message that this USB can be used for installation. Success!

2) Changing Settings in APTIO utility

Simply power on the system and immediately press F2 which will throw the APTIO utility screen.

To make UEFI-enabled installation work without issues, we have to disable the following:

  • Secure boot
  • Fast boot
  • Intel RST (i.e. do not use a RAID volume, either RAID0 or RAID1)

(I have read in forums that these can be turned on after OS installation but I haven't tried this option.)

And enable the AHCI mode instead. Finally, change the order of boot option so that our Live USB appears as first in the order.

3) Creating Manual Partitions in SSD

The next step is to partition the (NVMe) SSD and other SSDs or Magnetic Disks (HDDs) as we wish. Since we already have a Live USB, we can use that to Try Ubuntu without Installing and access the disks to create partitions.

Once we're in, use GParted to create manual partitions. Note that I deleted the Microsoft Reserved Partition that came along as default when I purchased the system. I figured out deleting this partition is not an issue but it is mandatory to have an EFI System Partition (ESP) as the first partition in SSD. So, we have to create one.

First make sure the SSD where Ubuntu is to be installed is in Global Partition Table (GPT) format. Then:

  • Delete all existing partitions; thus the whole disk space will be unallocated.
  • Create first partition of 550 MiB or more which is the recommended space for Ubuntu based installations. This partition must be in FAT32 file system format as per UEFI spec. Additionally, the flags must be set to boot,esp. I used manage flags option to do this. Also the label has to be EFI, though partition name field can be left blank.
  • The next partition has to be swap space for efficiency reasons. You can have this partition at the end as well but I made it as second partition. I allocated around 8.5GB with no partition name and no label but the filesystem type has to be linux swap.
  • third partition would be where the Ubuntu installation will live. i.e. the \ root file system. I allocated rest of the space (around 450GB). To create this partition, use ext4 journaling filesystem with label as per your wish; Again, the partition name field can be left blank.

  • Use other SSD (e.g. 850 EVO) to create a partition for /home.

  • I deleted all existing partitions in this disk and created a single partition (without any ESP partition).
  • Use ext4 filesystem with a friendly label and provide the mount point as /home. This is where all the documents, pictures, audio, video etc., will live.
  • the label that we give during partitioning will be used to load disks later on. partition name can be left blank.

Partitioning work is done. So, reboot the system and now select the option install Ubuntu.

4) Installing Ubuntu It is recommended to connect to an Ethernet cable during Ubuntu installation because it downloads some files from the internet which are important for successful installation.

First few steps are self-explanatory from the wizard menu. But, choose the option Something Else when asked where to install. Now, we have to do some more work here since we have created our own partitions.

  • make sure boot, esp flags are checked in the ESP partition. After this the mount point will change to /efi (or sometimes /boot/efi)

  • make sure that the swap space partition is of the filesystem swap area

  • in the partition where Ubuntu is to be installed, make sure that the mount point is \ with format option checked and filesystem is of type ext4
  • in the partition earmarked for /home, set the mount point to /home with ext4 journaling filesystem; additionally with some friendly label to access the disk later on.
  • the external disk (like magnetic HDDs) can be left as is without any modifications.

device for bootloader installation has to be the ESP partition. But sometimes this can be detected automatically. So, no worries.

We're almost done with all the procedures. Just click continue.. It will ask for more details like your location, name, computer name, username, password. Enter these details and patiently wait for 3-4 minutes to let the installation finish..

In the meantime, watch the progress to make sure that everything is going on smoothly and without any errors. Hopefully, it will be successful and throw a message to restart the system to use the new installation.

Reboot it and login with your username and password.

This installation by default uses nouveau drivers. If you're having a modern video card such as nVidia GTX 1070 or so, we've to install it. Go to Softwares & Updates -> Additional drivers and install the proprietary Nvidia drivers (as of this writing the latest version is 384.111)

Once successfully installed and rebooted again, you can verify whether the video card is Nvidia or not by checking in: All Settings -> Details

Hope this would be a helpful guide for anyone struggling to have a correct and working installation of Ubuntu Gnome with UEFI-enabled.

P.S. Note that this guide assumes that no important data is available in all disks. Backup all your files before trying this way of installation.


References which have been quite helpful:

1) How does UEFI boot actually work?
2) more background on UEFI


Note:If u also have question or solution just comment us below or mail us on toontricks1994@gmail.com
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