Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

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jackerbes
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Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by jackerbes »

I have been running Mint 19 and Windows 7 from dual boot hard drive for a couple of years. The dual boot is controlled by grub.

The display on the Lenovo SL510 laptop recently failed and I moved the hard drive to a Lenovo T520 laptop. It booted and the Mint install worked OK but the W7 install had some problems with missing or incorrect drivers and I could not get a wifi or Ethernet network working under W7.

I bought an W7 Ultimate *.iso on eBay and burned a W7 Ultimate install DVD so I could re-install W7. When I run the DVD it says it cannot install because I have a MBR hard drive and need to have a GPT drive to install W7.

But I don't see where there is a choice between the MBR and GPT partition types.

I also have a larger (1.5 TB) hard drive coming and plan to set that up to be a dual boot drive with W7 Ult. and Mint 19. The plan is to have the new hard drive partitions set up like this

100 MB - boot partition (I use grub to dual boot and think it will be stored here)

200 GB - W7 Ult partition

1200 GB - Extended partition divided into three sub partitions for Mint install

I think I want to set up the partitions and sub partitions on the new drive and, copy my current Mint 19 system into the new partitions.
Then run Super grub and get the grub boot working, then install W7 Ult from the DVD and tweak the grub boot from Mint with the Grub Customizer.

When and how do I make the new drive have GPT partitions and not MBR partitions?

Jack
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Jack Erbes in Ellsworth, ME, USA
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by JoeFootball »

jackerbes wrote:When and how do I make the new drive have GPT partitions and not MBR partitions?
I'm fairly sure you have to create a new partition GPT table, and that there's no way to convert the existing MBR variety. i.e., you'd effectively be wiping the slate.

EDIT: More info here and here.
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by jackerbes »

Looking at your more info links they both show it being done from Windows machine using the Disk Management app.

Part of my problem is that I'm trying to do it from Linux because I don't have Windows installed yet.

Looking at this link, maybe I have to install Windows first and then get the rest of it installed...

Multi-boot - https://linuxmint-installation-guide.re ... iboot.html

Jack
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by JoeFootball »

jackerbes wrote: Looking at your more info links they both show it being done from Windows machine using the Disk Management app.
You're correct, and conceptually it's the same context for Linux.

The "Something Else" option of the installer offers ways to manipulate partitions, but I don't know if it allows for creating new partition tables, but it may. The live session of Linux Mint has an application named GParted, which is a very good partition editor, and I know you can create new partition tables with it.

EDIT: Yes, I'd install Windows first before installing Linux Mint.
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by jackerbes »

I much prefer working from GUI's to the terminal.

And I realize now that I already have gparted installed to my linux system so I may have used it in the past and forgotten that.

Here are the details on using GParted to convert an MBR to a GPT:

Convert MBR to GPT without Data Loss Step by Step - https://www.diskpart.com/articles/gpart ... -4125.html

So I think that I'll make a backup of my Mint install and then give the MBR to GPT thing a try. It will take a day or so to get it done but I'll follow up here and let you know how it went...

The image shows GParted's image as to how it views my current disk. The 95.53 GiB space is where the windows install that failed was at before, it is empty space now.

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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by AndyMH »

Conceptually this is straightforward, in practice...

Are you going to change from legacy boot to UEFI boot? If you want to switch from MBR/MSDOS to GPT this is a logical approach and seems to be what win is demanding.
  • Before you start do an image level backup of the whole drive - just in case things go wrong!
  • Do a file level backup of your system to an external drive - timeshift for the system, range of alternatives for /home, backintime and luckybackup to name two.
  • Run blkid to find out the UUIDs of your /, /home and swap partitions.*
  • Use gparted booting from a mint install usb stick to create a gpt partition table on the drive.
  • In BIOS set boot to UEFI only.
  • Install win7.
  • In win7 reduce the size of the C: partition to create unallocated space for mint (on install it will use the whole drive).
  • Boot up mint install usb stick, in gparted recreate the partitions you need for /, /home and swap.
  • In gparted check win has created an EFI partition (probably around 100MB, format fat32, flags esp and boot) - needed for UEFI boot.
  • Use tune2fs to set the UUIDs on the partitions for / and /home using the UUIDs determined previously.
  • Use mkswap to set the UUID for the swap partition to the UUID determined previously.
  • Install mint using the something else option and point it at the partitions you created.
  • Do a timeshift restore from your backup.
  • Install backintime/luckupbackup/whatever in your new system, do a restore from the backup for /home.
Hopefully you end up with mint booting as before with everything installed and all your data back. As regards any data you have inside win7 and backing up/restoring - you are on your own.

Good luck.Not something I have done, but something I want to do in the near future.

* Definitely need this for swap, / partition is on the assumption that timeshift is locked to the UUID of your / partition.
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by jackerbes »

Wow! Thanks for the detailed reply and suggestions. I'll probably give that a try.

I have an external cased drive that has a 3TB Hitachi 3.5" SATA drive in it and that was where I was going to back up my laptop's drive to. But I just noticed that even though the drive is marked at a 3TB drive it only had 805 GB of space used on it. I assumed that the rest of the drive was unused and there as unused space. But when I ran the Linux Drives app it shows it as a 805 G drive and no more.

So I deleted the partition that was on it to see if that would recover more space. And now I am using Drive to erase the drive and to see if any more space shows up in the process. That will take about 9 hours or more but it sort of looks like maybe what I thought was a 3TB drive is bad or defective (got it used from eBay).

So now I'm sort of changing directions again. After the erasing is finished , if no more space shows up, I'll get another drive that I know is OK and put that in the case and then back up my system to that and then give the changing MBR to GPT thing a try.

Jack

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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by AndyMH »

Your hitachi is a known brand so should provide what it says. If it had an MBR partition table on it the max size of a partition is 2TB, don't have that restriction with a GPT partition table. Bit late now, but the quickest way to reuse it would have been to use gparted to put a new partition table on it. I'm not a fan of the disks app, most of what it can do you can do in gparted which I much prefer. gparted will also tell you how big it is.

If you think the disk might be dodgy run fsck on it: https://www.tecmint.com/fsck-repair-fil ... -in-linux/

Just wet and miserable here in the UK :)
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by Videogamer555 »

Just curious, as this may explain why my USB boot of Linux Mint keeps failing. Does Linux Mint REQUIRE that the drive be configured with a GPT type of boot sector? Or is it also capable of booting from a drive with an MBR style boot sector? So far I've been using MBR because it's a legacy type, and usually legacy stuff in general is more compatible with more computers. But since mine won't boot at all, I'm considering maybe I need to be using a GPT type of boot sector instead.
Any advice here?
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by AndyMH »

Does Linux Mint REQUIRE that the drive be configured with a GPT type of boot sector?
No, Mint will happily boot either in legacy or UEFI mode (GPT partition table), if you are having problems it's more likely to be a function of your BIOS. My laptops boot in legacy mode (and will happily boot UEFI as well), my desktop boots in UEFI mode. The desktop has to boot in UEFI because I've got an nvme drive in it and it will only boot in UEFI mode with the nvme drive present (not just booting off the nvme, it won't boot in legacy off an SSD with the nvme drive in*). Not a general problem, just a bad BIOS setup (MSI are you listening?). Not all BIOS are created equal :( and from posts on this forum some HP's can be troublesome.

*not only will it not boot in legacy, even with the BIOS set UEFI it would not boot from a USB stick. I had to burn the mint and win isos to DVD and boot from that to install them.
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by Kadaitcha Man »

jackerbes wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 6:12 pm
Wow! Thanks for the detailed reply and suggestions. I'll probably give that a try.
You've been given some highly complex steps. The far simpler, lower risk way to get what you want is to backup your important files, delete all the partitions on the drive and clean install Win7, then reinstall linux.
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by Videogamer555 »

AndyMH wrote:
Sat Jun 06, 2020 6:34 pm
Does Linux Mint REQUIRE that the drive be configured with a GPT type of boot sector?
No, Mint will happily boot either in legacy or UEFI mode (GPT partition table), if you are having problems it's more likely to be a function of your BIOS. My laptops boot in legacy mode (and will happily boot UEFI as well), my desktop boots in UEFI mode. The desktop has to boot in UEFI because I've got an nvme drive in it and it will only boot in UEFI mode with the nvme drive present (not just booting off the nvme, it won't boot in legacy off an SSD with the nvme drive in*). Not a general problem, just a bad BIOS setup (MSI are you listening?). Not all BIOS are created equal :( and from posts on this forum some HP's can be troublesome.

*not only will it not boot in legacy, even with the BIOS set UEFI it would not boot from a USB stick. I had to burn the mint and win isos to DVD and boot from that to install them.

Thanks for that info. My computer is a Dell Inspiron 7559 laptop.
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by AndyMH »

Just a thought, if trying to boot usb in a usb3.0 port, try it in a usb2 port, you never know? And you have turned off secure boot in BIOS?
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Re: Choosing Partition types - GPT or MBR?

Post by BG405 »

If W7 is asking for GPT, it must have booted in UEFI mode. I'm pretty sure I installed mine initially using MBR & then later converted to GPT from within the Windows installation (I used an elevated command prompt for this, IIRC .. it's been a while).

Try setting your BIOS to "Legacy Only" & see what happens then, if you haven't already tried this.
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