Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Linux-controlled Dual-Boot of Fedora 15 ('Lovelock') on a Windows 7 computer (Win7 installed first and GRUB controlling startup from a new Linux-created MBR)
Last reviewed: june 2011
This guide shows how to put Linux in control when you create a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Fedora 15 if Windows 7 is installed first. A new MBR will be created at the start of the disk and Linux's boot loader (GRUB) will be in control of startup. You can then run either by selecting one from a Linux menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.
In this procedure you need to shrink the Windows 7 drive to make room for Linux unless you use a second hard disk for Fedora. Using a second disk is marginally easier but far from essential..
32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Basic, Enterprise and Ultimate were used in testing so this will also work with Windows 7 Premium and Professional. The computers used were (1) a 32-bit Dell Optiplex with Pentium 4 (2.26GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 160 GB ATA hard disk, and (2) AMD Athlon 64-bit (2.4GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 1 TB SATA hard disk.
Following these instructions correctly should always succeed. However, any change to your computer should not even be considered unless you have a rescue plan. This guide also contains that rescue plan - just in case!
The procedure used is suitable for experienced computer users.
Important Installation Notes
Shrinking a Windows 7 or Vista drive
Shrinking a Windows 8, 7 or Vista drive. You should use Shrink in Windows' Disk Management to resize the Windows partition. You can read Shrink the Windows 8. 7 or Vista Partition for instructions on completing this task successfully. Use the free GParted Live CD to gain disk space only if you must - read the page Use GParted to Resize the Windows 8, 7 or Vista Partition to learn how.
SUMMARY of Procedure (Advanced Users)
That's it! The Linux boot loader menu will boot Fedora 15 or Windows 7.
STEP-BY-STEP: Install Fedora 15 with Linux's GRUB in control when Windows 7 was installed first
It's the nature of a step-by-step that it appears long and difficult. Not so!
Installing other operating systems on your Windows 7 computer may invalidate your warrantee.
It's important to follow the instructions exactly as stated and you should have a properly working Windows.
A. Make your preparations
B. Make free space (Unallocated) for Linux
You must create disk space and leave it as Unallocated or Free (not formatted). Decide first on how much disk space you wish to allocate to Linux and if you will create an extra partition (/home) for your Linux data. This data partition can be left intact should you wish to reinstall Linux at a later time. The Swap area size should be about twice your RAM size but you should allow less than twice if you have a lot of RAM.
Make a note of the size of the Free/Unallocated space you will create.
If installing Fedora 15 on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk:
If installing Fedora 15 on the first hard disk:
This applies if you are installing fedora on the first hard disk and you must make the Windows partition smaller.
C. Install Fedora 15
Raid/LVM was not an issue when testing so partitions were created manually during installation. Fedora 15 was installed and the default location for the Boot Loader was accepted (to the MBR).The originally Active partition always remained Active after Fedora 15 installation so Windows then booted automatically. The dual-boot was created automatically by Fedora. Finished.
Congratulations! You have created a GRUB-controlled natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Fedora 15 when Windows 7 was installed first, and the Windows-created MBR and boot loader have been replaced by the Linux version (GRUB).
Help! I want Windows-control back again!
The Windows boot loader can be recovered relatively easily. Please note that doing this will stop you booting to Linux Fedora.
How to reinstall/recover the Windows 7/Vista boot loader (BCD)
If you installed Linux's GRUB to the MBR:
Bootup any Windows 7/Vista installation DVD or even from NeoSmart's free Windows 7 System Recovery Disk.
If you want to use the hard disk space currently allocated to Fedora:
In just a few second you will have all the Linux space back in Win7. Restart computer.
Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.
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