UEFI and dual boot: second Ubuntu installation overwrites /EFI/ubuntu (on ESP) from first Ubuntu installation

Bug #1855874 reported by GizmoChicken on 2019-12-10
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
ubiquity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

I want to dual boot between two Ubuntu installations (home vs work, etc). Unfortunately, when using the "something else" installation mode (which I must use for various reasons), the second Ubuntu installation overwrites the /EFI/ubuntu (on ESP) from the first Ubuntu installation, preventing me from booting into the first Ubuntu installation without workarounds.


One workaround (which isn't ideal) is to force the /EFI/ubuntu for the second Ubuntu to be installed on a second ESP partition, so as to avoid overwriting /EFI/ubuntu for the first Ubuntu installation. (This can be done by resetting the flags for the original ESP from "esp" to "msftdata" using gparted, installing the second Ubuntu installation, and then changing the resetting the flags for the original ESP back to "esp" from "msftdata" using gparted. Other workarounds are also possible. But near as I can tell, pretty much all the workarounds are far from user friendly.


1) At the very least, the Ubuntu installer should scan for previous instances of /EFI/ubuntu on the ESP, and if a previous instance of /EFI/ubuntu is found, ask whether to (1) overwrite the original, or (2) install to a new auto-generated location (such as /EFI/ubuntu2 or similar).

2) A better option would, after the scan, in addition to providing an option to install to an auto-generated location, also provide a means to specify where second set of EFI files are installed.

3) And the BEST option would be to add an option to specify the location during the "something else" install mode. For example, using such an option in the “something else” installation mode, some may want one installation to /EFI/ubuntu-work and another installation to /EFI/ubuntu-home, or similar. And ideally, such an option would even allow selecting to which ESP (if two disks having ESPs are present) the EFI files should be installed.

EDIT 1: As an aside, I'll just add that, even after the above mentioned workaround (creating a second ESP), at least for me, the second Ubuntu installation won't show up as a grub entry on the first installation (and the first Ubuntu installation won't show up as a grub entry on the second installation). Rather, to select which installation boots requires a UEFI boot manager, such as the rEFInd boot loader (by Rod Smith) or the system's built in UEFI manager.

EDIT 2: I'll also note that, at least when using the "something else" installation mode (which I must use for various reasons), attempting to install Ubuntu Mate alongside Ubuntu also results in above described bug. That is, installing Ubuntu Mate also overwrites previous instances of /EFI/ubuntu on the ESP. So, in addition to affecting those who (for whatever) reason want two or more installations of vanilla Ubuntu, this also affect those who want dual boot between Ubuntu flavors (or at least that's the case for Ubuntu Mate). For the bug report discussing Ubuntu Mate, please see https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu-mate/+bug/1855896

description: updated
description: updated
description: updated
Alen Nedic (nalen719) on 2019-12-10
information type: Public → Public Security
information type: Public Security → Public
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