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I just bought a Dell XPS with Ubuntu pre-installed. I want to install another distribution instead.

The system came with the following partitions:

Disk parititons

Do I need to keep the first two partitions or can I remove those and go for system + swap only?

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My wholehearted advice is not to remove these two partitions.

The first partition is a EFI system partition and is required for GPT to boot.

The second partition has the msftdata flag which identifies a Microsoft Basic Data partition, but is used also for Linux. It is normally formatted with a Microsoft filesystem such as FAT or NTFS, and it usually contains recovery or other metadata. It might not be needed by your system, but considering that it'll give you back just 3 Gb you should not delete or change it blindly.

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    I can afford loosing the 3gb for sure, but my developer-shaped mind will struggle accepting that this is not clean especially that I can't know what this is for. But I have to overcome this for sure :) Jun 2 '17 at 14:57
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That is a limitation you need to look at the BIOS of your system. The EFI specs make it clear that you need a partition of efi type, formated fat32 that will hold the efi software used to chainload more efi software or one of your Operating Systems.

Major of bioses allow you to disable EFI mode, and revert back to the classic BIOS mode + MBR, making those 2 partitions not needed anymore. Another option is to keep BIOS + GPT. You partition tool will allocate 1MiB right at the starting point of your hd. This ArchLinux wiki explains very well how GPT+BIOS works.

But one of the partitions there is not needed if you decide to stick with efi. As far as i know, you just need one EFI partition(/boot/efi) formated fat32 with the EFI type on it, a root partition and a swap partition(and of course, all other partitions you want to have on your system based on your needs).

tl,dr: You just need one EFI partition mounted /boot/efi

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  • Changing from EFI to BIOS emulation mode (CSM), but retaining the current GPT partitioning scheme is possible, but perhaps not recommended. If using GRUB2 as a boot loader, a new BIOS Boot Partition is needed. If the partitioning scheme is changed from GPT to MBR, the whole disk must be wiped and repartitioned. I would stick with EFI and GPT, in which case the EFI System Partition is needed. Jun 2 '17 at 13:44
  • Yeah. I didn't started the subject BIOS+GPT to keep it simple. But yeah, you are right and it is also an option.
    – user34720
    Jun 2 '17 at 13:51

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