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I have recently moved to a new laptop (Lenovo Y50) and installed Ubunt 15.04 on it. I installed lvm so almost all the 1T HD is one logical partition. The other partitions are:

eyal@eyal-Lenovo-Y50-70:~$ sudo parted /dev/sda print
[sudo] password for eyal: 
Model: ATA WDC WD10SPCX-24H (scsi)
Disk /dev/sda: 1000GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/4096B
Partition Table: gpt
Disk Flags: 

Number  Start   End     Size   File system  Name  Flags
 1      1049kB  538MB   537MB  fat32              boot, esp
 2      538MB   794MB   256MB  ext2
 3      794MB   1000GB  999GB                     lvm

i know nothing of EFI booting this is the first time i use it, before that all linuxes i've installed were legacy booted.

What i want to do is install mint linux alongside ubuntu. So i figured out how to reside the logical root volume and create an extra one for the mint linux (the swap logical partition can be used for both) but i' not sure how to reconfigure grub or EFI (which one i need to configure and how) to boot a new partition.

If it'll go well i would like to install arch as well. i took a look on arch documentation regarding EFI booting and grub and got totally lost, too much docs with too little info each. any pin point and help would be appreciated.

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Why? Mint is derived from Ubuntu, so there's very little you'll be getting in Mint that you don't have in Ubuntu. If you're looking for new desktop environments, you can add most of those as packages within Ubuntu and switch back and forth without rebooting. (You can even install Mint's flagship Cinnamon on Ubuntu -- at least in theory [I've never tried it].) If you just want to get a taste for something different, installing it in a virtual machine (using VirtualBox, VMware, or the like) is likely to be easier and safer than dual-booting.

If you really must dual-boot, the first thing to know is that you'll need another /boot partition. (That's your current /dev/sda2.) In fact, your current /boot is a little on the small side -- that's a known Ubuntu bug. Thus, you may need to shrink your LVM partition to make room for an extra /boot partition, and perhaps to replace the one you've got now.

Another complication you may run into is boot loaders. Both Ubuntu and Mint will try to install GRUB to the EFI System Partition (ESP; your /dev/sda1) in the EFI/ubuntu directory, so they'll overwrite each other. There are ways around this:

  • You can live with it, and hope that whichever distribution ends up controlling correctly identifies the other and creates suitable GRUB entries. This might or might not work, though, so you might be forced to do it some other way....
  • You can create multiple ESPs and then play games with partition type codes (using parted, GParted, gdisk, etc.) -- ensure that when you install, only one ESP has the proper ESP type code (a "boot flag" in parted or GParted, or type EF00 in gdisk), and change type codes as necessary to get each distribution to install to its own separate ESP.
  • You can abandon GRUB 2, or at least the pre-packaged GRUB 2 that each distribution provides, in favor of something else. My own rEFInd is likely to be the easiest to manage, but there are other options, too -- see my page on the subject for details.

Dual-booting Ubuntu and Arch seems more worthwhile than dual-booting Ubuntu and Mint, since Arch isn't based on Ubuntu; but you'll still have to create a /boot partition for Arch. The last I checked, the Arch people liked gummiboot, but gummiboot has been assimilated into the systemd collective; I believe it's now called systemd-boot. OTOH, it's easier to switch to whatever boot loader you like when using Arch, so you're not really limited to either GRUB 2 or gummiboot/systemd-boot. In any event, with Arch I'd either avoid GRUB 2 or hope that Ubuntu's GRUB 2 can correctly detect Arch.

  • 10x rod, i was reading your article when i wrote this post :-) your answered is detailed but with information i mostly knew, i was asking for information regarding how to configure EFI, after all when the BIOS boots up (UEFI style) if will probably look for one boot partition, i'm not sure if the EFI protocol knows to discover more than one and let u choose. – codeScriber Aug 8 '15 at 6:55
  • The EFI's NVRAM entries for boot loaders include disk and partition identifiers, as well as filenames, so you can have multiple ESPs, each with multiple boot loaders. The limitations for dual-booting come mostly from the OSes, such as Ubuntu and Mint wanting to install to the same location, or Windows flaking out on disks with multiple ESPs. (The EFI spec is very explicit in permitting multiple ESPs.) – Rod Smith Aug 8 '15 at 13:11
  • you have nice references in your doc you've referred me to in your answer so i'll accept the answer even though i think it's not full. an example for grub and EFI configuration for dual boot would have been nice. oce i'll find it i'll post it as an answer here. – codeScriber Aug 8 '15 at 21:04
  • if i had an installation without lvm but wiht EFI apparently linux mint installs nicely side by side, also installing arch is easy since i just need to update the grub entries to launch it and create a new installation for it. with lvm the issue is re-sizing is a bitch, till now i was unsuccessful in re-sizing a new ubuntu installation without data loss. – codeScriber Aug 21 '15 at 9:57
  • Resizing is both easier and safer within an LVM setup. What's harder with LVM is resizing the LVM physical volumes (partitions) -- but if you want to expand LVM space, adding a new partition is an easy way to do it. Shrinking LVM space for non-LVM space is harder, though. For that reason, when I use LVM on a system that dual-boots with non-Linux OSes, I typically create two or three LVM partitions of varying size. That way, I can mark one partition as unused and delete it to make non-LVM space, should the need arise. – Rod Smith Aug 21 '15 at 12:32

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