Ubuntu / Windows Dual Boot 'B'
Edited: Tuesday, December 14 2010
This web-page is part of a larger site
giving examples of how to install Windows+Ubuntu Linux operating
systems 'dual boot' in a computer. Illustrated Dual Boot HomePage
web page is about how to pre-partition with GParted and use the Ubuntu 'Desktop' Live CD to install Ubuntu Linux in a computer that had Windows installed in it already.
The example shown here has been tested with Windows 7, and it should work with Windows Vista, Windows XP and earlier versions of Windows too.
This website contains information that is getting out of date and may be harmful to new computers. The author only has old computers and is not contemplating the purchase of any new equipment now or in the near future.
information below should be okay for PCs up to and including Windows 7
era. The author of this website has no knowledge of Windows
The version of Ubuntu you'll see being installed in this web page is
Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat and it is a little different to install than
previous versions of Ubuntu. The appearance of the installer has been
changed, but the same basic techniques still apply.
lot of people are still uncertain about how to partition their hard
disks. I have made two similar web pages, they both end up with exactly
the same installation.|
The difference between this web page and
my other one is that in this installation the partitioning work will be
performed during the installation with the Ubuntu installer's inbuilt
Gnu Parted partition editing program.
other web page shows how to use Gnome Partition Editor (GParted), to
partition the hard disc in advance of the installation. Ubuntu / Windows - Graphical Installation C.
|Most experts recommend using Windows own Disk Manager for shrinking the
Windows partition from within Windows 7 or Windows Vista. This is not
only possible, it is quite quick and easy too.
If you think you would prefer to use Windows own disk
manager to resize your Vista or Windows 7 partition smaller to make
room for Ubuntu before going any further with your installation you are welcome to.
The How-To Geek has the how-to for that, 'Resize a Partition for Free in Windows Vista'.
There are some limitations and caveats involved with using Windows own Disk Manager to shrink Windows.
For one it requires defragmenting the drive first, and defragging usually takes a lot of extra time.
and probably worse, the
Windows MFT and page files show up as 'immovable files' which the
Windows Disk Manager can't deal with. The most you can possibly shrink
Windows is half way, (where you bump into the MFT), and that's only if
you're lucky enough not to run into stray fragments of page file first.
Thirdly there's also a risk is your hard disk might fail to be recognized
by the Ubuntu installer and not appear in the list of disks it's
possible to install Ubuntu in.
There's no evidence to suggest that Windows own partitioning software
is really any more reliable than any other partition editor but if you
damage your Windows system with its own software it's no concern for
me or other proponents of open source.
No matter what software you choose for shrinking Windows, I recommend
running a thorough file system check such as CHKDSK /R beforehand,
repeating until no more errors are found.
You should have a backup copy of all your files stored on some other
media, operating system installation DVDs/CDs and installed software
disks before using any disk partitioning program.
This website is about how to use open source software so the
installations in this site demonstrate the use of open source programs.
Both GParted and the Ubuntu Installer's partitioner based on GParted
Windows regardless of the state of fragmentation or so called 'immovable' files.
No operating systems were harmed in the making of this web page.
installation example presumes that some version of Windows has already been installed in the first hard disc and
occupies the entire
hard disk. Here's a link to a good Windows 7 installation guide, Windows 7 Installation Guide / Tutorial, in case anyone needs it.
The CD used for this installation was made from ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso, which is downloadable from http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop - free download.
For relevant information, see Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Technical Overview - wiki.ubuntu.com
For a list of all Ubuntu Hashes, use this link, UbuntuHashes.
|herman@amd-quad-lynx:~$ md5sum ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso |
The computer used for this demonstration is one I assembled myself for
less than half the price I would have paid for a factory made model
with equivalent hardware.
a fairly standard computer, nothing too fancy, but it's capable enough
to run Ubuntu and even Windows 7 or Vista. It has an ASUS P5QL PRO
motherboard, and the CPU is an Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q8400 @
2.66GHz. It only has 2x1GB DDR2 800 mhz RAM at the moment, and the graphics
cars is a GeForce GTS 250.
My regular Ubuntu installation is in an OCZ Vertex Series SSD which can boot Ubuntu in 3.03 seconds.
I'm leaving uplugged while I'm demonstrating these dual boot installations.
The boot loader I use and recommend is called the Grand Unified Boot Loader, known as GRUB for short.
There is information on GRUB in a special section in this
website, GRUB2 Pages.
shows you how to install GRUB to the MBR of the first hard disk.
That means the boot.img will be written to appropriate area in the MBR,
and GRUB's core.img will be embedded in the otherwise empty sectors
following the MBR.
That's safe for most normal versions of Windows as the boot..img fits in the MBR without altering the 'disk
signature' which is important to Windows 7 and Windows Vista's BCD
If you have a special Windows installation and there's some reason why
you shouldn't install GRUB to MBR you'll probably know about that
because you probably paid extra for it. If in doubt, you
may optionally want to make a backup of the boot loader code area
of your first hard disk's Master Boot Record for safety's sake, just to
Here's a link about how to back up and restore your MBR (optional), MBR
backup and restore.
NEW: I also show you how to make a backup copy of the first track of your hard disk too, (optional).
Super Grub Disc
You may want to take the precaution of downloading a copy of Super Grub Disk
in case you have any problems booting after the
new operating system is installed. Boot loader problems are generally
easily fixed, but most of the time you need to be able to boot the
computer first in order to be able to fix the booting problem. That
creates a circular arguement. Super
Grub Disk can boot your computer until you get the regular boot loader fixed.
You should always make a backup of at least your most important files
before using any hard disk partitioning software.
The first step is to boot the Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat 'Desktop' Live/Install CD.
your Live CD doesn't boot, make sure you have the boot order in your
BIOS set to boot from a LiveCD. If you're not sure how to do that, look
at this link, BIOS
This is the first thing you see when the Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat Desktop
Live CD boots up.
It's a progress screen, just to reasure you something's happening and
to give you something nice to look at while you're waiting.
In this screen we're
offered the chance to try Ubuntu out first by booting the rest of the
way to the Ubuntu Live CD's 'Desktop' , or finish booting now and go
right to the Ubuntu installer.
I recommend choosing the first option, 'Try Ubuntu', unless you're really in a hurry.
The advantage of loading the Desktop and trying Ubuntu out is you can
make sure everything works okay with this version of Ubuntu and your
If you choose 'Install Ubuntu' and skip loading the Ubuntu Desktop,
you'll save the extra minute or two it takes for the Desktop to load,
and you'll have more RAM to spare during the installation too. That
could be worth thinking about if you're computer is a little low on RAM, but if is very low on RAM, consider using the Ubuntu
'Alternate Installation' CD instead. This website contains pages with
examples about how to use the 'Alternate Installation' CD too.
TIP: Here's a tip for anyone installing Ubuntu in a computer that's a little bit low on RAM. (Less than 512MB).
Try using a partition editor such as GParted for creating a small
partition somewhere in a hard disk or USB external disk that you are
not planning on using to install Ubuntu in this time. Format it as a
linux swap area.
Then reboot your Ubuntu Desktop Live/Install CD. The Ubuntu Live CD
will find that extra swap area and start using it automatically and
you'll notice a big improvement in the performance of the Live CD.
Here we are in the Desktop of the Live CD.
If you have never tried Ubuntu Linux in your computer before and you
have made it this far then you know that your computer is working okay
and Ubuntu supports your hardware. You can see that the graphical
display is good, try out your
sound card, and make sure the internet is working okay and so on.
Here's a link for more ideas for things you can do with your Ubuntu
Live CD - Ubuntu
partitioning your hard disk there are a few things you
should know, like
the 'partitioning rules', and what sort of partition scheme will suit
We don't have room for all that in this page.
Here is a link to another page with some information about that, Help
If you have your computer plugged in to the internet while you are
installing Ubuntu, it can automatically download updates while
installing. Some updates could be bug fix updates and some could
be important security updates, so we recommend you enable this under
most normal circumstances.
'Third party software' means software that is not necessarily made by
the same people as make the main parts of your Ubuntu operating system,
but they are necessary to make Ubuntu work better. For example,
Maverick Meerkat can play most music and videos immediately after
installation. Earlier versions of Ubuntu could only play a few kinds of
music and video file types without extra work to enable them the play a
wider range of files.
Ultra security concsious people may want to install third party
software later or not at all, maybe they don't care about music and
videos. Strict GNU fans may decide to abstain from installing third party
software for ethical reasons.
If you do enable these two options, you may notice a small increase
in the time taken for the installation to complete if you have a slow
internet connection. You won't need to do these things yourself later
on after the installation is over, so you'll save time and effort in
the long run.
This website has always been
about how to specify your partitions manually, (advanced), so as usual,
that's the only option we'll be using in this web page.
The other two options, 'Install alongside other operating systems' and
'Erase and use the entire disc' used to be the simpler options. In the
past it wasn't worth bothering to make a web page for explaining them.
They were too easy and anybody should have been able to figure out what
Now though, in Maverick Meerkat's new installer it seems like they
tried to make them even simpler than simple, but it seems to have
backfired and they have inadverently made them confusing instead. I
have taken a look at those two options and I have to say I can't
recommend them to new users, thanks to kansasnoob for alerting us all
to the problems in the following thread,
Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity.
'Specify partitions Manually' is the only choice I think people should use for Maverick Meerkat.
The new partition editing Window in the Maverick Meerkat installer is
very small and only allows one or two lines to be seen at a time. It's
hard to tell which partitions are which here.
The buttons you can see below the partition window here are:
You should always make a backup of at least your most important files
before using any hard disk partitioning software.
- New partition table - will only be available if you select a disc/drive, selecting this will erase everything on that drive!
- Add - should only be available if you select a device with free space available.
- Change - well, just what it says. This is usually the only option
you'll use if you pre-created partitions as previously recommended.
- Delete - does what it says!
- Revert - should revert any change before it’s been applied if possible. Don’t count on it!
have selected the partition I want to work on, it is partition number
2, this is my main Windows 7 operating system partition and I
need to resize it to make some free space in the hard disk to
install Ubuntu in.
I hit the 'Change' button.
After selecting the proper device (/dev/sda5 in this example) you’ll see the following four options:
(1) New partition size
(2) Use as
(3) Format the partition
(4) Mount point
How much do I want to shrink my Windows 7 partition?
Good! My Windows 7 partition has been resized successfully and now I have some free space to install Ubuntu in.
Now I have highlighted the free space and I'm about to hit the 'Add' button to add a new partition in the free space.
want my new Ubuntu partition to be a logical partition.
I to think about out how large to make my new Ubuntu
partition while leaving some spare room at the end for a
I changed it from '309301' to '307301' MiB in size, so I'll have romm for around 2GB of swap area.
going to leave it set as the ext4 file system, that's the latest in the ext
series of file systems and it's the default file system for Ubuntu so
it's the one most other Ubuntu users have.
The ext4 file system by Mr Theodore Tso and friends is my favorite file system for most purposes.
Ext4 (and Ext2/Ext3) Wiki - kernelnewbies
Ext4 How To - kernelnewbies
will be my main Ubuntu operating system partition, designated with a
slash symbol in Linux, '/', (shorthand for 'root file system'.
people like to create a separate /home partition, and others like to
have a separate partition for almost all of the directories.
Personally, I don't think it's necessary these days, and it might
become very confusing in a mutiple boot set-up too.
More than one
operating system can share the same /home directory, some people like
to try that out. I like each operating system to have it's own /home
directory, (just my personal preference).
I have clicked on the area of free space I want to use and I'm about to click 'New partition'.
For anyone who doesn't know what a swap area is for, it's like a 'page
file', but it's in a separate partition. It is used for a slow lane for
the memory, leaving your RAM free for the fast stuff, so the computer
The swap area becomes even
more important if the computer has less than about 512 MB of RAM.
who already has Windows Vista or Windows 7 in their computer already
has lots of RAM so they only need a swap area if they want to
'hibernate' their computer instead of shutting it down.
We need a swap area at least double the size of our RAM if we want to 'hibernate' our computer.
also possible to install Ubuntu with no swap area, and make a swap file
inside the Ubuntu partition later on. That's a good idea because then
you can resize it more easily if you decide you want it larger or
smaller later on, HOWTO: Use swapfile instead of partition and hibernate - by iva2k
This is how the fields looked like for my new swap area.
I just let it take up the remainder of the hard disk.
Our partitioning scheme is all set up now.
The next thing to do is decide where we want to install the boot loader.
Ubuntu boots with GNU/GRUB, and the most recent versions of GNU/GRUB are very different from the old 'Legacy GRUB'.
GNU/GRUB still comes in three parts the same as always.
The part that goes into the first 440 bytes of the MBR and used to be called 'stage_1' is now called 'boot.img'.
It's role hasn't changed, it's still the first stage of the boot
loader, and its job is to point to the second stage, now called
The second stage which is 'embedded' in the next 48 to 51 sectors or so
of the total 62 normally empty sectors in the first track of the hard
disk. If youre worried about clobbering something and you want to be
particularly careful, you may make a backup of the MBR and first track,
refer to this website's MBR Backup and Restore.
The third stage of GRUB, which replaces the old stage2 is called
normal.mod, that's the part that lives inside the Ubuntu partition and
it can have a large number of other modules attached to it as required.
of the nice things about the new design of the Ubuntu installer is it's
easy to look and see which hard disk and partititon belongs to your new
Ubuntu installation in case you forgot.
In this example, it's in
/dev/sda6, the 'a' at the end of 'sda' part indicates the first hard
disk and the 6 means partition number 6.
The MBR of the first hard disk is the ideal location to install the boot.img and core.img of GRUB.
In the top of the list, /dev/sda is highlighted by default and that's normally the best choice.
Another location for installing GRUB's boot.img which used to be
popular was the partition boot
sector of the Ubuntu partition. In this case that's /dev/sda6.
Although it can still be
done if you insist, this practice is now discouraged. GRUB's core.img
cannot be embedded when we install the boot.img to a partition boot
sector, and although GRUB will still work with the copy of core.img in
/boot/grub, (within the file system), it would need to rely on block
addressing to locate it, and that would make GRUB less reliable.
Just look at all the trouble Windows Vista users have when their
partition's boot sector is moved accidentally by an ill informed person using partition editor and
you'll see why.
Some people still like to install GRUB to their Ubuntu partition boot sector anyway though, especailly if they use GAG Boot Manager for multibooting several GNU/Linux Distros and possibly Windows.
installing Ubuntu in a removable drive, such as a USB drive, should NOT
install GRUB to their first hard disk's MBR, but to MBR in their USB
There's no option in this installer to install an alternative boot loader like LiLo.
It's not possible to skip it and continue the without any boot loader at all.
If for some weird reason you need either of these two things, you
should use the 'Alternate Installation' CD for installing with and not
the Ubuntu 'Desktop/Install' CD.
It's a good idea to have a copy of Super
Grub Disk ready just in case, whenever you're messing around with boot loaders and partition editors.
A full Ubuntu installation in a USB flash memory stick that boots with
GRUB makes a great emergancy boot disc too. You can boot the USB Ubuntu
and run grub-mkconfig to scan the computer for OSesand add them to the
USB's GRUB menu and then reboot. When you reboot the USB again, just
select an internal operating system entry and in most cases your
operating system will boot, (sometimes not, depending on what the
problem is exactly).
This is your last viable option to quit or go back if you have any doubts, if you're sure ............. click on Install Now
Your name as you type it here will be used by programs such as email,
so make sure you don't type anything funny here in case you forget and
send an email to somebody you need to impress such as a potential
emplyer or someone like that.
Your username needs to be in lower casem, no capital letters please.
Your password should be a mixture of letters, numbers and characters
and you can change between upper and lower case if you want to.
is a link to an easy way to choose a secure password that's easy to
remember but hard to crack, password
It might be a good idea to have your home folder encrypted, especailly
if you are installing in a laptop, netbook or USB flash memory stick.
If you decide to have your home folder encypted, make sure you keep
backups in a safe place and try to find out how to unencrypt it to
rescue your files in case you might need to for some reason.
When I rebooted, my new Dedicated GRUB menu looked something like this,
| Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.35-22-generic
Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.35-22-generic (recovery mode)
Memory test (memtest86+)
Other operating systems:
Microsoft Windows 7 (on /dev/sda1)
the | and | keys to select which entry is highlighted.
Press enter to boot the selected OS, or 'e' to
commands before booting, or 'c' for a
The highlighted entry will be booted in
This is the GNU/GRUB boot screen where we choose which operating system
want to boot .
is fully customizable and you can have fun learning about GRUB, for
more info on the GNU/GRUB boot loader, click this link, GRUB
This is the new Maverick Meerkat Desktop.
The installation is all done, now it's time to start having fun customizing and personalizing our new operating system.
|It's a good idea to
open up our repositories and get an update, install
the software we want, and start configuring, personalizing and
customizing our Ubuntu installations.
Here's a link to a page with some information to get you started, Post-install
If you used this installation as a guide for setting up a Ubuntu/Ubuntu
or Ubuntu/other Linux dual boot, your /boot/grub/menu.lst file will
probably be set up with a 'direct kernel boot' for the other Linux
I recommend you amend that and change it to a
chainloader or a config file boot command so that both Linux operating
systems can update their kernels without the GRUB menu needing to be
manually updated. Please read the following link, Operating
System Entries for Multiple Booting More Linux Systems.
a link to a very important new website, UbuntuHCL.org
the new Ubuntu Linux Hardware Compatibility Site.
No longer do we need
to risk bringing our new hardware home after a trip to the computer
store with our hard-earned cash only to find that the new hardware we
bought isn't usable with Linux.
Help your fellow Ubuntu users by
entering details of hardware that you own that you know does work well
with Ubuntu so others will know what to look for when we go shopping
for new computer parts.
Look in UbuntuHCL.org
first to see what other Ubuntu users had to say about a computer
hardware item you are considering before you go ahead with a
This is what my Windows 7 Desktop looks like just to prove to you that it's still okay.
You can expect Windows to run a file system check the first time you
try to boot it after it has been resized by an open source partition
editing program. That's perfectly normal and in fact, the partition
editor itself deliberately induces Windows to do that just to be on the
safe side by inserting the 'dirty flag' in the NTFS file system.
Windows will reboot when the file system check has completed, never interrupt a file system check.
That's all for this page. I hope you enjoyed it.