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Linux newbie-mildly-intermediate here.

I am trying to make a triple boot system with Linux Mint, Windows 10, and Pop! OS with all of them on separate ssd drives.

My question is regarding the boot partition of Pop! OS. Would PopOS need a boot partition?. I use Linux Mint's grub to pick which OS to boot and would like to keep it the same if possible.

Also would Pop! OS need a swap partition given that it is on a separate drive?

sda      8:0    0 223.6G  0 disk 
├─sda1   8:1    0   700M  0 part /boot/efi
├─sda2   8:2    0    28G  0 part /
├─sda3   8:3    0  55.9G  0 part [SWAP]
└─sda4   8:4    0 130.4G  0 part /home
sdb      8:16   0 223.6G  0 disk 
└─sdb1   8:17   0 107.6G  0 part 
sdc      8:32   0 447.1G  0 disk 
├─sdc1   8:33   0   100M  0 part 
├─sdc2   8:34   0    16M  0 part 
├─sdc3   8:35   0 446.5G  0 part 
└─sdc4   8:36   0   499M  0 part 

Currently, I have Windows 10 in sdc, and Linux Mint in sda. Both OS were installed in separate SSD drives with GPT partition table in UEFI mode. For sdb(also GPT table) I want to make an NTSF partition to share files between the 3 OS and use the second partition to install Pop! OS in UEFI mode in.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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  • Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer only installs to ESP on first drive, not sure about others. And last install will be first in UEFI boot order, but you normally can just change boot order with efibootmgr unless HP which does not remember changes by efibootmgr.
    – oldfred
    Apr 25 at 14:27
  • Hmmmm Im so used to hitting "something else" to do custom partitions that I never thought of trying the regular installation. I think I will give this a try. My only concern is that the installation doesn't mess with the other OS bootmanager or mess with Linux Mint's Grub. Apr 26 at 6:13
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Since you use UEFI mode, you could install all the bootloaders on the same ESP, assuming it is big enough to contain them all.

However, if you want each drive to be bootable on its own, then you might want to create an ESP on each disk.

All the Linux distributions I've seen will leave existing UEFI NVRAM boot variables alone and just create their own on installation. The worst you'll need to do is to change the Mint's bootloader back into being the first one the firmware tries to boot. And that's something you can do with either the efibootmgr command or by accessing the firmware settings menu ("BIOS settings").

I'm not 100% sure, but it seems to me that if Windows 10 sees its own boot entry in the UEFI NVRAM boot variables, it will leave any other entries alone; but if that entry gets deleted for any reason, it tends to take over the Boot0000 variable for itself.

Just take care to boot the Pop! OS installer in UEFI mode, so that all the installed OSs will end up using the same boot mode. Having a combination of OSs with different boot modes is a headache: a legacy boot process cannot switch to UEFI bootloaders at all, and the ability of a bootloader to transition from UEFI to legacy mode in the middle of the boot process is far from guaranteed. (The rEFInd bootloader can apparently do it in some cases, but it's not guaranteed to work with all UEFI implementations.)

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  • Thank you very much for the thorough reply! I will give it a try(after backing up of course) and let you know how it goes. "Just take care to boot the Pop! OS installer in UEFI mode, so that all the installed OSs will end up using the same boot mode. Having a combination of OSs with different boot modes is a headache" This happened to me a few weeks ago. It sucked to the point where I just reinstalled everything. "but if that entry gets deleted for any reason, it tends to take over the Boot0000 variable for itself." Out of curiosity, in what scenarios does this happen? Apr 27 at 14:21
  • Some UEFI firmwares also reset the boot variables if the firmware settings are reset to factory defaults. This might happen when updating the UEFI firmware, or if the CMOS clock battery on the motherboard runs out of power, or if you intentionally reset the firmware settings. For such a situation, Windows installs a copy of its bootmgfw.efi as \EFI\boot\bootx64.efi on the ESP, which is the fallback "auto-detect a UEFI boot loader" location. GRUB can do that too, but only if you ask it to - and there can be only one bootloader in the fallback location on any ESP partition.
    – telcoM
    Apr 27 at 15:47

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