Ubuntu error: the installer needs to remove operating system files
June 18th 2009

I started installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 in my ASUS Eee PC, and after the partitioning step, I stumbled upon the following error:

The installer needs to remove operating system files from the install target, but was unable to do so. The install cannot continue

I was installing Ubuntu on top of a previous eeebuntu install, smashing the / partition, while reusing the /home. After minimal googling, I found this bug report at Launchpad, with the same problem (and one year old).

As it turns out, the problem was not with the root partition, as I assumed from the error message, but with the home one. Apparently, Ubuntu didn't like the idea that my home partition was JFS (maybe it couldn't mount it, because jfs_utils are not loaded by default). The solution: install the OS ignoring (not using) the home partition, and mount it afterwards.

Shame on you, Ubuntu, this solution is lame!

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4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Ubuntu error: the installer needs to remove operating system files”

  1. Gary on 11 Mar 2010 at 8:13 am #

    I solved it by selecting format partition option

  2. isilanes on 11 Mar 2010 at 10:33 am #

    Yes, Gary, that would be a solution. However, it cannot apply when one is trying to reuse the JFS partition. Wiping the /home partition was not an option, as I was trying to keep it from a previous install.

    The proper solution would be to have the installer ask if you want to install jfs_utils before trying to mount a partition it identified as "JFS". This seems a catch-22, because installing software can not be done until partitions are finished. However, Ubuntu could accept your choice of reformatting /, reusing /home as JFS, and installing jfs_utils (later). Then, it could first format and mount /, then install the bare minimum, then mount /home, then go on with the installation.

    Or the installer could simply support JFS as it does ext2/3/4.

  3. Jeff on 01 May 2011 at 10:42 am #

    I solved it by switching to openSuSE 11.4. :-) Amazingly this still occurs in Kubuntu 11.04 (liveCD AND alternate).

    Cannonical kept bragging about how they'll improve the LiveCD Installer for 10.10, then the alternate-CD (what I use) would also have its Installer improved for 11.04, they said -- so I decided to give it a try... same old CRAPWARE with few improvements. (Also needed to re-start my installation after checking out LVM then deciding it wasn't for me; could not un-do the LVM (even after removing the Logical Volumes then the Logical Group, they RE-APPEARED in my Kubuntu Installer's 'proposed' partition table!), until I re-booted & went thru all the Installer's settings before the Disk Partitioning.)

    I might switch back to Kubuntu someday but not until they make their Installer at least HALF as good as SuSE's (especially in the complex 'alternative CD' partitioning).

  4. Bob on 20 Nov 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    I've actually bcmeoe increasingly disappointed with Ubuntu. I use Ubuntu Hardy Heron at work, and Mac OS X at home/on the move. I do lots of programming and I use the command line even for mundane actions, so Windows is out. The *only* attraction of Ubuntu over OS X for me is the lower cost. It is less stable than OS X, and Gnome and KDE are more memory-hogging than OS X's GUI (I've tried Xubuntu, but it's too minimalistic for me). OS X crashes about 10x less often than Ubuntu and has fewer hardware compatibility issues. I also have less issues with software installations in OS X.Going for an Ubuntu laptop after my Macbook dies would save me a few hundred dollars in terms of the purchase price, but I'm not sure it'd be worth the extra hours dealing with the weaknesses outlined above.All the same, Ubuntu is still *a lot* better than Windows, so those of you who are still on Windows and want to try out a free alternative should go for it.

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