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 How to install Linux on UEFI systems where GRUB fail to install?

Hi everyone,

I’m writing this because a lot of people out there are facing some issues in installing Linux on a machine that have an EFI capable bios.

A lot are complaining that GRUB is not installing properly, leaving a computer in an unusable state. Usually they get an error message at the startup: “no operating system found” or in dual booting only windows starts up.

I’m sure this is a temporary situation, and Linux Mint will find a way to install in EFI based bios and GPT formatted HDDs easily.

In a short and simple QA I will try to explain how to fix this:

Question: Why GRUB is not installing properly in my machine?
Answer: New machines have EFI capable bios. This means that by default MS Windows is installed in UEFI mode and this requires a GPT formatted Hard Disk. At the present GRUB cannot install itself in GPT partition table without a huge effort and special skills.

Question: How to make GRUB work in my machine?
Answer: The easiest way is to convert your HDD from GPT partition table to MBR partition table (or MSDOS in Linux) and after that install your Linux Mint.

Question: How can I convert my HDD from GPT to MBR partition table?
Answer: You can use a distro of your choice in live mode. In live mode, find the program GPARTED. Wait until it recognizes all your drives and select your HDD. Right click over it, and choose the option to create a new partition table. Choose MSDOS from the list. Hit ok than apply/commit all changes. ATTENTION this will erase all your data and MS Windows (or any other OS) will disappear. Your HDD is now converted in MSDOS or MBR. You can now boot your preferred distro, create your partition scheme and install Linux.

Question: Do I need to make any changes to my bios settings?
Answer: If you have a capable UEFI and LEGACY bios, put the bios in Legacy boot only or Both enabled with Legacy boot first.

Question: Can I dual boot Win7 and Linux on a UEFI capable bios?

Answer: Yes you can. If your HDD is formatted in MBR partition table (or msdos) than you can install first windows 7 and than the distro of your choice. BUT, careful, if you install windows from a DVD media it will convert your HDD in GPT partition table and dual boot will be almost impossible... (or will give you a lot of headache) to avoid this, dump the win7 iso to an usb using Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. Installing from USB will not change the hdd in GPT partition table.

I hope this little QA will be of help.

Best regards


Tags: EFI, UEFI, convert GPT to MBR
Created: 2 years ago.
Last edited: 2 years ago.
Reviewed: 2 years ago.
Read 0 times.

3 weeks ago

You are fooling people with such things. This tuto is only usefull to demostrate you know nothing about installing GRUB on UEFI systems.So, delete it please.  
1 month ago

PLEASE, do not wright out there 'With UEFI" if you are offering to SWITCH OFF UEFI and enable LEGACY/CSM or so - such tutorials MUST be named as "Linux Mint with WindaX bla bla bla LEGACY/CSM" but not "WITH/ON UEFI"!!! Do not make such mistakes and dont make others, especially newcomers, to repeat these mistakes and fall in frustration about LINUX!!!
6 months ago

I'm getting a new desktop PC soon and usually just have four drives installed but only one usually connected, the Linux Mint drive. The others are Linux testing, Windows and Windows testing. That way my production Linux and Windows drives are free to run without problems.

I think I will just continue this approach with my new system. Why bother having a dual boot setup when its easier to have operating systems on separate drives? I think all I will have to do is change the BIOS to legacy but will Windows 8 still boot in legacy when I change drives?
8 months ago

8 months ago

Thank you Avasili for posting this tutorial. I followed your tutorial & it worked a treat. Booted my new machine with the USB key with Linux mint KDE 17 32 bit on it. Did an apt-get install Gparted to install Gparted. Ran Gparted with sudo Gparted because it wouldn't let me use it as a normal user. Changed the GPT partition table to MBR on the drive I wanted to install grub to following your instructions. Re-created the partitions I wanted on that drive. Re-installed Linux mint KDE 17 on that drive using the USB key & Voila ! It installed. Prior to that & had tried installing the same OS three times. Two with the DVD & one with the USB key only to get the Grub install error at around 76% each time. Thanks again, I learned a lot doing this. Plus, you've saved me from pulling my hair out & slashing my wrists.  
11 months ago

Well - sadly I have decided not to use Linux Mint any more because of this issue. I restore netbooks and sell them with Linux on, plus we use two or three at home. Whenever I have installed Linux Mint, everything is fine. The problem is when you want to install anything else afterwards - it is messed up. I am no expert - I vaguely know what the MBR is - I know grub exists and that's about it. But all other distros install fine, you can wipe them off and put something else on, but Linux Mint seems to prevent you installing anything else afterwards! Twice I have managed to sort it but not quite sure how in the end - by using Puppy Linux live and tinkering about in GParted - but the last time I couldn't get rid of the 'extra' mbr Linux Mint had saved and Puppy couldn't seem to get rid of.  
1 year ago

Sorry didn't proof read. Supposed to be refind and I installed Linux twice after that.  
1 year ago

Okay, I have no idea how I did it or why it worked, but a while back I installed Linux mint on my HP PC along side windows 8. It is a UEFI system, got partition table and all that. Anyway at first line wouldn't boot. I tried just about every supposed fix I could find online, and even tried refund. Still went straight to windows. Then I made the mistake of changing the name of the windows boot file. I didn't actually change the name of the real windows boot file, but I changed the windows default boot file to a file that wasn't there through the command prompt. I had a reason for it at the time, but it didn't work out. Anyway when I rebooted, windows wouldn't boot, of course. Then I went into Linux using the refund DVD, reinstalled grub and ran boot repair. Linux booted fine after that in UEFI mode. Had to have secure boot disabled, the only problem was I couldn't get grub to boot windows after that. I figured it might work if I could change the windows boot files back because grub was picking up windows and was unhidden, but I never figured out how to change it from Linux. I even reinstalled windows twice after that and it worked just fine. Also when I finally gave up and fixed windows with the recovery disk I could still go in through the efi file explorer in the startup options and grub would boot Linux just fine still. As soon as I reinstalled Linux again grub won't install correctly again. I know I can make refind work, but I need grub to get my HDMI sound to work. Not a huge deal but enough to frustrate you. Anyway there's gotta be a way but for now I'll prolly just go with the MBR partition table.  
1 year ago


This is a very good tutorial, however, I'm wondering if someone has attempted to do what I'm looking at doing.

I have 2 SSD drives & 1 terabyte drive for data. What I'm hoping to accomplish is:
1. Windows 7 on the primary drive
2. Linux Mint on the second
3. Use the terabyte drive as storage for data & store images of the 2 SSD with CloneZilla
4. Be able to Dual-boot both OSes

Are there any instructions/tutorials that one can point me towards ? Bare in mind that, though I am familiar with Linux to a degree, I still consider myself as a novice. Any Feedback would be very appreciated.

Please feel free to ask me questions if you have any.

1 year ago

This is specific to Linux Mint only.

I faced this problem three times.

Ubuntu 12.04 installed on a system with EFI+Win7 laptop nicely. I had to remove Linux Mint 14 and install Trisquel 6.0 as an alternative for two of my friends who wanted a Linux which could do multimedia, office & Internet dual boot with Win7 and EFI BIOS.

So I am sure it's Linux Mint problem.

It's strange that other Linux distros are installing grub and an Ubuntu derivative is failing.
1 year ago

I installed Linux Mint 15 OEM on my desktop and it didn't come with GRUB installed :(. Origional OS was Vista, and now after installing Linux as a secondary OS (I did confirm it didn't toally blow away winblows), I can't get back into Vista (which sadly I kinda need to in order to do some labs for school :/). Can anyone help me out please?  
1 year ago

Well, I tried to install mint 15 on a vanilla system and got the grub-install/dev/sde failed error and then saw this post.
So tried the cmd prompt and typed gparted and came up asking for a root password???
Now considering I was trying to install from a live usb install on a vanilla system I'm completely stuck.

Can anyone help and let me know what I can do. I'm installing on a HP Proliant n54l microserver which I assume from the nature of the posts I;ve read means that it has a relatively new BIOS which is EFI capable.

1 year ago

Help! Just ran into the same issue. My kmint dvd doesn't have gparted installed and my BIOS does not appear to have the options mentioned here. Anything that can be done?  
1 year ago

Therefore Win8 is not able to start a foreign OS also not with "Easy-BCD 2.2" hence two solutions are applyable:

- disable execution of /etc/grub.d/30_OS-prober or disable it in /etc/default/grub
- read UUID of ESP/EFI-partition
- insert chainload in /etc/grub.d/40_custom
- the distri use "rEFInd" as standard bootloader let starting Win8, Mint, MacOS
1 year ago

Maybe I'm late but I found the solution working for me.

The problem is not Linux-Mint, all other Distries generate the same error.

The solution: Don't use a USB-Live with persistenz. Better, just use a DVD.

The cause (I suppose) is the "ext2" formatted persistenz don't understand GPT. By using installation-medium with persistenz you get "Cannot install grub.efi on /target/. Wihtout Grub-bootloader you will not be able to start the system"

Hope that's help you & enjoy
1 year ago

@avasili - One small correction. In the last section of your tutorial, Can "I dual boot Win7 and Linux on a UEFI capable bios?", you state, "BUT, careful, if you install windows from a DVD media it will convert your HDD in GPT partition table...".

The question was about installing Win7 and Linux with a UEFI capable bios and although Windows 7 apparently supports being installed on a UEFI/GPT setup, installing from DVD media (or any media for that matter) will not format it's installation partition to GPT if the disk/partition is already setup as MBT/mdos. Windows 7 default partition setup is still the old MBT/msdos type.
1 year ago

Thanks for your comment and for making this more complete.

Best regards.

1 year ago

The following worked for me in the end!!
Lenove ThinkCentre Edge72
Run Mint live CD, use GPARTED to create new partition table --> "MS DOS"
Make following changes in BIOS:
startup - boot mode --> legacy only
startup - boot priority --> legacy first
security - secure boot --> disabled
Then I installed Win7 from DVD (which did not convert the partition table) at the start of the disc, created a data partition leaving a space for Mint at the end, and installed Mint.
The first start of Windows 7 gave an error but it clicked past and started.
Now it works fine with selection of the operating systems in Grub.
The main difference is that compared to Mint, Win7 seems horribly slow and brings incessant annoying pop-ups.
1 year ago

Thanks, a very useful and interesting article!
One more little thing that should be mentioned, it wasted me a lot of time:
the Windows 7 ISO file has to be bought and downloaded from Microsoft; if you use Infrarecorder to create an ISO from the Windows 7 CD, it doesn't work.
As ever, the problem arises from Microsoft protecting their monopoly, not from Linux.
I will have to give up and return the computer for the second time, serves them right for selling me a nasty technology I don't need without any indication in the technical datasheet.
2 years ago

You are welcome...

Until now there is no solution... yet... let's see what happen in the future.

2 years ago

Thank you!

I also spent nearly two weeks to figure out how to set up things, and using GPARTED to create an MBR partition table did the trick. I have a 64 MB SSD with Windows 8 on it, and that one has a GPT partition table, and I converted the 2 TB HDD to MBR, put a 1 TB NTFS partition on that for data, and use the other TB for Mint.

I have to use the BIOS setup to choose between Windows 8 and Mint, which is a bit clumsy sometimes, so I hope to find a way to configure Mint with full UEFI support some time.

thanks again,

2 years ago

Thank a lot for that !

I've spent 2 weeks on looking how to sort out the problem of only Win 7 booting at the start-up! I've installed lots of different linux editions and none of them work. I finally managed to run linux Mint from a CD, but the HDD installed version is not working.

Thanks a lot for useful article.

Just wondering who and why has created this efi thing which annoys so many people ?
2 years ago

Thanks V...

appreciated your information :)

2 years ago

That is nice information. May I add the following information:

Once you finished installed Win7 on an MBR HDD, and installed Linux after that, the Grub menu will not show up until you set your BIOS to Legacy mode and then you must reinstall Grub using the following tutorial:
"Reinstall grub2 from LiveCD". This tutorial can also be applied if you are booting your real Linux install. Just no need to mount the partition.
Thank you.

2 years ago

Hi powerhouse.

I don't know how much I looked around for a solution to an EFi install. Although ubuntu can be installed on GPT disks, I can't make it to boot. :)

Right now I'm on legacy bios install on MBR partition with maya cinnamon 13. So far no problems at all.

I hope too that Clem and the team will figure out what is the problem and possibly give us an Uefi installation of LM.

I would gladly help in testing anything. :)
2 years ago

UEFI install is giving me fits. Thanks for providing a workaround!

I'm still set on solving the UEFI install. But if I fail, I will gladly use your MBR method and dump UEFI.

It is sad that there is no straight-forward 123 guide on how to install using UEFI. I've managed to create a UEFI bootable USB stick yet it is not capable of installing an UEFI boot. Even if I install grub-efi in the live USB and install it still fails to boot properly. chmode into the installed system and installing grub-efi doesn't do the job either, though all partitions and files seem to be in place. I used grub-update and grub-install to no avail. Well, as I said, if all fails, I'll be using your tutorial to get it boot the old-fashioned way.

I hope very much that the Linux Mint developers will solve this issue soon. And add LVM to their install options.
2 years ago

Good tutorial.

I had my first encounter with EUFI a few weeks ago. Frustrating it was too.
2 years ago

Thanks, if any other question arises I will be happy to help further! :)  
2 years ago

It is nice this tutorial is adopted FAQ form, so be useful and easy to follow.
2 years ago

You are welcome. Glad you liked it!  
2 years ago

Useful article. Thank you very much!  

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