How to install Ubuntu from Minimal CD (with UEFI)

Published on December 12, 2015 . Updated on: -
Besides standard disc images, Ubuntu also offers a small image of only ~30...40 MB named Minimal CD. This contains a text-based installer, so you can use it on computers that fail to load the graphical environment of the installer. Only the packages required to run the installer are on the actual image and anything else will be downloaded from a repository that you can choose.

This has advantages and disadvantages. If you have a fast internet connection, this is actually a good way of installing Ubuntu or any of its official derivatives like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu or Ubuntu MATE. You will only get the packages you requested at their available versions from the repositories. This means that once installed, your OS will be updated. The disadvantages are of course related to the internet connection. The minimal ISO cannot boot in EFI mode yet you can make it EFI bootable. Also, the text installer may be a little difficult for inexperienced users.

This tutorial shows how to make an EFI bootable media from Minimal ISO and also how to install Ubuntu from it whether you're in EFI mode or not.

The ISO is less than 40 MB, thus it can be burned even on 80 mm CD or you can make a bootable flash drive. This is the perfect choice for any old, low speed USB flash drive. In order to make the bootable USB drive, you can use Rufus on Windows and dd command on Linux. You can get the Minimal ISO at

How to install Ubuntu from Minimal CD (with UEFI)

EFI boot

You need the 64 bit image. Right click on it and open it with the Archive Mounter or Disk Image Mounter. Select all contents and copy them to an empty folder of your choice (I made the miniefi folder on Desktop). You can unmount the ISO now. In the boot/grub folder of the extracted ISO you should find a file efi.img (there is in Ubuntu 15.04 Minimal ISO). Open it with Disk Image Mounter. You will find here an efi folder which contains a boot folder with bootx64.efi file required for EFI boot. All you have to do is copy the efi folder from here to the root of the extracted ISO (at the same level as boot folder from ISO).

EFI for Ubuntu Minimal CD
The added efi folder
Unmount efi.img. Now, you have two options. You can burn all these files to a data disc with Brasero. Or you can copy them to a FAT32 formatted USB drive. You will get a bootable media only in EFI mode!


Following is the installation procedure in EFI mode. Plug in the USB or insert the disc and boot from it. The EFI bootloader is GRUB and this is the boot menu.

GRUB EFI from Minimal CD
GRUB EFI from Minimal CD
The same menu appears in non-EFI boot too. You should choose the first option. The kernel should load. You are prompted to select a language for the installation. Use the arrows to select and hit Enter to confirm.

Minimal CD language selection
Language selection
Then select your location for the timezone.

Ubuntu Minimal CD location and timezone selection
Location selection
After that come the locales.

Ubuntu Minimal CD locale selection
Locale selection
Next comes the keyboard layout selection. Choose no when asked if you want to detect it automatically. You can select it from the list that appears. Ubuntu will try to configure network now. You will be prompted to enter a host name for the computer and to choose the nearest repository.

Ubuntu Minimal CD nearest mirror selection
Choose the nearest mirror
You must enter proxy information if needed. After downloading some packages, the installer asks for the default account username and password. It also prompts whether to encrypt user's folder. After selecting the correct time zone, the partitioning tool starts. As always, I prefer to do it manually.

Ubuntu Minimal CD partitioning
Choose how to partition the disk
I'm running this in VirtualBox and I have no partition on the virtual disk. If you want to dual boot, you will select an unallocated space that you made from the other OS and make a root partition and a swap one. I will detail this later, but for now let's select the hard drive and make a partition table (only for those who want to erase the entire HDD).

Ubuntu minimal CD select hard drive partition
Select the hard drive
Since the HDD is empty, a new partition table will be written on it. Because I started the installation in EFI mode, the partition table will be GPT, although it doesn't say that.

ubuntu minimal CD new partition table
Choose to create a new partition table
After selecting Yes, you will have the required free space to actually install Ubuntu on it. Go ahead and select it. If you are dual booting and already have an operating system installed, this is where you start from.

ubuntu minimal cd free disk space
Select the free space
Hit Enter and you will be able to make partitions manually or let the installer autopartition that free space.

ubuntu minimal cd make new partition
Free space options
If you select the first option, you must specify the space for the partition.

ubuntu minimal cd new partition space
Space for the new partition
After hitting Enter, you will be prompted to select where to place the partition (at the beginning or the end of the disk - choose at the beginning). This is what you will see next.

ubuntu minimal cd partition info
Partition info
The installer auto assigned this partition the root mount point. But I don not intend to install Ubuntu on a 256 MB partition. Because I started the setup from UEFI and I have no other ESP (EFI system partition) I must make one. I will select Use as and choose ESP from there.

Ubuntu minimal cd efi system partition
Make the ESP partition
Now I can apply the settings and write this partition to the partition table.

ubuntu minimal cd write partition to disk
Confirm partition settings
You have to repeat these steps to make a root partition (ext4, mounted at "/"), if you want a separate home partition (ext4, mounted at "/home") and if necessary a swap partition with the size of your RAM memory (swap zone). If I let the installer partition the free space, here is what I get (this is how you must make it too):

ubuntu minimal cd gpt partition table
Final partition table
You can see the ESP, the root partition and the swap space. Now, let's proceed with installation. A summary of disk changes will appear, select Yes to confirm and write to disk. Ubuntu will start downloading and installing packages. At some point you will be asked what you want to install.

ubuntu minimal cd install updates
Choosing to install updates automatically
ubuntu minimal cd software selection
Package selection
This is the most important. Use Space to select an option then hit Enter. Ubuntu desktop brings you the default Ubuntu Unity desktop. For this tutorial in VirtualBox, I will go for Xubuntu. The package download and installation continues.

Installing bootloader
At last, the bootloader is installed. If you are asked to install a bootloader is recommended to select Yes. If you have other operating systems installed, they will be detected and added to the boot menu.

You may get another dialog about hardware clock and UTC. You can answer whatever you want, because the clock is updated from the web servers and there shouldn't be any issues. At the end, remove the disc or USB drive and restart.

ubuntu minimal cd remove installation media
Prompt to remove installation media
That's all. The selected Ubuntu flavour is now installed on your PC. I would have expected this method to be a little more unattended. I hate those configuration dialog appearing at different times during setup thus forcing you to pay attention to the installation. It would have been better if the configuration was completely made at the beginning.

Ubuntu minimal cd efi boot
EFI booted
The above screenshot proves we're booted in EFI mode.

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