Hybrid partition table
Most x86 and x86_64 systems only use either the MBR (MS-DOS based) partition table layout, or the GPT (GUID Partition Table) layout. However, in certain situations it might be necessary for a GPT partition layout to have an "MBR view" overlayed. This is called Hybrid MBR/GPT.
Using hybrid partition table
Using a hybrid partition table might be necessary when dual-booting operating systems that are blind to a GPT-partitioned disk. In these situations, the partition definition requires a tricky workaround.
Creating with gdisk
Creating a hybrid MBR is easy using gdisk: at the main menu press the r key (for recovery and transformation), then press h key (CHS recompute), then enter the series of partitions (less or equal to 3) in the order they should be be listed in the MBR. Finally enter the hexadecimal partition type without the
0x prefix or accept the defaults by repeatedly pressing the y key.
Enable only a single boot flag as found the following example:
GPT fdisk (gdisk) version 0.8.1 Partition table scan: MBR: MBR only BSD: not present APM: not present GPT: present Found valid MBR and GPT. Which do you want to use? 1 - MBR 2 - GPT 3 - Create blank GPT Your answer: 2
... Using GPT and creating fresh protective MBR. Command (? for help): r Recovery/transformation command (? for help): p Disk /dev/sdg: 625142448 sectors, 298.1 GiB Logical sector size: 512 bytes Disk identifier (GUID): 744E8BF3-39A4-4908-8646-AC2E5661C8CF Partition table holds up to 128 entries First usable sector is 34, last usable sector is 625142414 Partitions will be aligned on 2048-sector boundaries Total free space is 2014 sectors (1007.0 KiB) Number Start (sector) End (sector) Size Code Name 1 2048 566233087 270.0 GiB 8300 Linux filesystem 2 566233088 625142414 28.1 GiB 0700 Microsoft basic data Recovery/transformation command (? for help): h WARNING! Hybrid MBRs are flaky and dangerous! If you decide not to use one, just hit the Enter key at the below prompt and your MBR partition table will be untouched. Type from one to three GPT partition numbers, separated by spaces, to be added to the hybrid MBR, in sequence: 2 1 Place EFI GPT (0xEE) partition first in MBR (good for GRUB)? (Y/N): N Creating entry for GPT partition #2 (MBR partition #1) Enter an MBR hex code (default 07): Set the bootable flag? (Y/N): Y Creating entry for GPT partition #1 (MBR partition #2) Enter an MBR hex code (default 83): ... Unused partition space(s) found. Use one to protect more partitions? (Y/N): N Recovery/transformation command (? for help): o Disk size is 625142448 sectors (298.1 GiB) MBR disk identifier: 0x00000000 MBR partitions: Number Boot Start Sector End Sector Status Code 1 * 566233088 625142414 primary 0x07 2 2048 566233087 primary 0x83 4 1 2047 primary 0xEE Recovery/transformation command (? for help): w
In the example above, N was used to answer the safe questions. Without N, fdisk -l /dev/sdg will list the MBR partition list just fine but ls /dev wouldn't list the partitions - and even more annoying: the partitions wouldn't be listed in DOS/BIOS.
Supporting boot loaders
GRUB supports booting from GPT and MBR partition tables via the
part_msdos modules. However, a successful setup and GRUB's ability to boot correctly depends both on loaded partition modules and on correctly installing GRUB. A determining factor in how GRUB is installed (BIOS-MBR vs BIOS-GPT) is the presence of a EE00 (GPT protective) partition as the first partition in the MBR.
With a hybrid MBR, GRUB will install if the first partition in the MBR table is an
EE00 partition. An
EF02 partition should be present anywhere in the disk and not necessarily in the MBR list. Leave enough open sectors before the first partition!
In this case one does not have to add/list an
EE00partition in the hybrid MBR list manually, gdisk will provide a prompt to list one if booting with GRUB before displaying the provided list (up to 3 partitions) by the user.
GRUB requires an
EE00 partition type at the first listing in the MBR partition list entry, however it may pose a problem when booting other operating systems on the same disk (especially Windows). A workaround is available in order to recognize a GPT partitioned disk with (or without) hybrid MBR. Removing any protective
EE00 partition with the fdisk command.
Do not use gdisk to remove the
EE00partition! The gdisk command does not work because a "fake" partition exists to protect the main GPT table while booted in BIOS - MBR mode.
Use other disk tools such as parted (sys-block/parted) or gparted (sys-block/gparted) to resize after that. Otherwise use gdisk to add protective
EE00 partitions to protect at least GPT main and backup the partition before using any non-GPT aware tools if necessary.
Another issue should be addressed when attempting to use a GPT Hybrid MBR configuration: Windows MSDOS based bootloaders) may not find suitable partitions to boot from if there is a
EE00 partition protecting the GPT main partition table (sectors 1-2047). If this happens remove the protective
EE00 partition before getting a valid MBR partition list in [MS]DOS tools (to format a partition for example, the tools recognized a GPT partitioned disk at least). And then use gdisk to recompute the CHS value for hybrid MBR (in the recovery and transformation menu, or in the expert section of gdisk's main menu).