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Recovery Partition

The recovery partition on this operating system is a full copy of the Pop!_OS installation disk. It can be used exactly the same as if a live disk copy of Pop!_OS was booted from a USB drive. The existing operating system can be repaired or reinstalled from the recovery mode. You can also perform a refresh install, which allows you to reinstall without losing any user data or data in your home directory, or opt to do a fresh install, which will essentially reset all OS data. Refresh Installs are only available on a fresh install of Pop!_OS 19.04 and above.

To boot into recovery mode, bring up the systemd-boot menu by holding down SPACE while the system is booting, or by holding/tapping any function keys NOT used to Access the BIOS/Boot Menu (On non-System76 hardware, try the keys F1 through F12)

NOTE: These instructions assume Pop!_OS is the only OS running on your system. If you are booting more than one operating system you may need to change your boot order first, or manually select the Pop!_OS Disk from your BIOS/Boot menu.

Once the menu is shown, choose Pop!_OS Recovery.



If the existing system needs to be repaired, then click the Install Pop!_OS in the top left, and choose quit.

To access to the existing OS drive and run the package manager repair commands, the following commands will need to be run:

First, press +T/+T to open a terminal, then type this command:


This will show you the name of the main internal drive, which will have 4 partitions on it. We will be working with the 3rd partition. If the main drive is an NVMe drive, it will be called /dev/nvme0n1p3 and if the drive is a SATA or regular M.2 drive, it will be called /dev/sda3.

Next, run this command:

SATA DrivesNVMe Drives
sudo mount /dev/sda3 /mntsudo mount /dev/nvme0n1p3 /mnt

If the command fails and says mount: /mnt: unknown filesystem type 'crypto_LUKS', then the hard drive has been encrypted, and additional commands are needed to unlock it.

Encrypted Disk

To get access to an encrypted disk, these additional commands need to be run in order to unlock the disk. Please use the lsblk command described above to determine the correct drive and partition.

SATA DrivesNVMe Drives
sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda3 cryptdatasudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/nvme0n1p3 cryptdata
sudo lvscan
sudo vgchange -ay

Note: Pay attention to what the cryptdata group is called. If it is named something other than 'data-root' Substitute the correct info into this next command. Make sure that -root is on the end:

sudo mount /dev/mapper/data-root /mnt

And now the existing hard drive can be accessed by going to the /mnt folder. To use the Files program, go to '+ Other Locations' -> 'Computer' and then click on the /mnt folder.


chroot is the way to run commands as if the existing operating system had been booted. Once these commands are run, then package manager (apt) and other system level commands can be run.

The EFI partition is usually around 512MB so that would be the partition that we replace in the next command. The Recovery Partition is around 4GB as well.

SATA DrivesNVMe Drives
sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot/efisudo mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt/boot/efi
for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys /run; do sudo mount -B $i /mnt$i; done
sudo cp -n /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/
sudo chroot /mnt

With this last command you will have root access to your installed system. You can also access your files with files via "Other Locations" > Computer > /mnt.

After Chroot

Once you are done accessing files or running commands in your installed OS, you can exit from the chroot and reboot the computer, run these commands:


Refresh Install

Starting with new installations of Pop!_OS 19.04 (not through upgrading) the installer will include a new Refresh Install option that allows you to reinstall the OS to be reinstalled without losing user account information and data in the home directory. However, your applications will still need to be reinstalled.

Refresh Install Option


Once the recovery operating system has opened, the Pop Installer will start automatically. If the system needs to be reinstalled, go ahead and continue the installation steps as demonstrated here.

If files need to be copied off before reinstall, open the Files program to get access to the existing install. If the existing install is encrypted, please see the encrypted disk instructions above.


It is important to keep the Recovery Partition updated as it is not updated with the installed OS. This will allow you to reinstall the OS to the currently installed version if something went wrong in your install.

The Recovery Partition can be upgraded from within the OS in Settings -> OS Upgrade like in the screenshot below:

Pop Recovery Update Available

Once the Update button is pressed you will see the below screenshot:

Pop Recovery Updating

The screenshot below shows that the Recovery Partition has been upgrade successfully:

Pop Recovery Updated