Zac Blanco     Blog     Education     Projects     About

Migrating Ubuntu 20.04 with LVM Partitioning

We were running some experiments on a local cluster of machines that were originally installed and configured using the Ubuntu 20.04 Server live CD. After brief investigation into some performance issues we found that the operating system (and rest of the system software) was installed on a spinning drive with performance less than 1/5 of SSD on the system.

We didn’t want to re-install the OS and software because there was a lot of configuration we had to do to the operating system due to some specialized hardware we were using. So, we decided to opt for a disk migration instead. I had done some OS migrations years ago, so I figured moving the OS partition for Ubuntu should be straightforward. I’ll preface the rest of the post saying that the experience wasn’t unpleasant but there was little documentation that I could find on the internet related to newer versions of Ubuntu. Everything seemed to be for 12.04, 14.04, etc.

I’m writing this post to hopefully help out some other poor lost souls who might need to migrate their operating system installs from one disk to another (and save some time in the process) that were installed with an LVM partitioning scheme.


  • OS initially installed on a 1TiB drive (/dev/sdb)
  • Unpartitioned/formatted 512GiB SSD (/dev/sda)
  • Ubuntu 20.04 installer used with all default settings

The Ubuntu OS installer creates 3 partitions when installing the OS to a single disk and when the LVM partition install is used

  • /dev/sd*1 –> mounts to /boot/efi
  • /dev/sd*2 –> mounts to /boot
  • /dev/sd*3 –> mounts to /

The goal is to completely move the boot and data partitions from /dev/sdb to /dev/sda and then finally be able to boot with /dev/sdb completely wiped and formatted.


I used the gparted live CD image to boot into the OS. Once booted with gparted:

  • Make sure all partitions on the target drive (SSD) are removed and the disk is entirely blank
  • use gparted to clone the partions mapped to /boot and /boot/efi to their respective locations. In other words copy+paste /dev/sdb1 to /dev/sda1 and /dev/sdb2 to /dev/sda2
  • Shrink the lvm partition so that it can fit on the new disk
    • right click the LVM partition -> deactivate. Then, shrink the partition so that it can fit on the new drive, assuming that your target drive has enough free space.

These boot partitions and resizing should be quick. Next, we need to move the main data partition. Unfortunately, Gparted doesn’t support the copy+paste of LVM-based partitions, so we need to use the command-line. I followed some instructions from askubuntu in order to create a new LVM partition and move the data to the SSD.

# We need to create a new partition on the new SSD
# Create the new partition in the shell with "n" using the defaults.
# "w" to write
fdisk /dev/sdNEW

# Once the new partition is created, add it to the logical volume,
# move the data, and remove the old one. "ubuntu-vg" is the volume
# group name that the installer gave to the LVM volume
pvcreate /dev/sdNEW3
vgextend ubuntu-vg /dev/sdNEW3
pvmove /dev/sdOLD3
vgreduce ubuntu-vg /dev/sdOLD3

Finally, use gparted to remove the boot flag from the partition on the old drive and add the boot flag to the copy of that partition on the new drive. After all these steps you can reboot without the gparted live CD.

At this point, the OS should be able to reboot into the OS successfully. However we never deleted or reconfigured the boot process, so if you run lsblk I saw that the HDD /boot and /boot/efi partitions were still mounted.

$ lsblk
sda                         8:0    0 447.1G  0 disk
├─sda1                      8:1    0   512M  0 part
├─sda2                      8:2    0     1G  0 part
└─sda3                      8:3    0 445.6G  0 part
  └─ubuntu--vg-ubuntu--lv 253:0    0   200G  0 lvm  /
sdb                         8:16   0 931.5G  0 disk
├─sdb1                      8:1    0   512M  0 part /boot/efi
├─sdb2                      8:2    0     1G  0 part /boot
└─sdb3                      8:3    0 445.6G  0 part
sdb                         8:16   0 931.5G  0 disk

To fix this, unmount and delete the partitions, then mount the new partitions (they should contain the same data) and then run grub-install and update-grub

sudo umount /boot/efi
sudo umount /boot
# remove the partitions with "d" and finally a "w"
sudo fdisk /dev/sdOLD

sudo mount /dev/sdNEW2 /boot
sudo mount /dev/sdNEW1 /boot/efi
sudo grub-install
sudo update-grub

After running all these steps and a reboot, our lsblk shows the correct output, and a free HDD that we can format again use to store more data.

$ lsblk
sda                         8:0    0 447.1G  0 disk
├─sda1                      8:1    0   512M  0 part /boot/efi
├─sda2                      8:2    0     1G  0 part /boot
└─sda3                      8:3    0 445.6G  0 part
  └─ubuntu--vg-ubuntu--lv 253:0    0   200G  0 lvm  /
sdb                         8:16   0 931.5G  0 disk