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Install Windows-controlled Dual-Boot of Fedora 16 on a Windows 7 computer with two(+) hard disks
(Win7 installed first and Win7 still controlling startup after Linux installation)

Last reviewed: April 2012

October 2013: This is the new location for this page on this site. Please update your link or bookmark.

Introduction

If you have two or more hard disks, this guide shows how to leave Windows 7 unaltered when you create a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Fedora 16 if Windows 7 is installed first. The Windows 7 boot loader will stay in control (not Linux's GRUB). You can then run either by selecting one from a Windows 7 menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.

The example shown here puts Fedora on the second hard disk but it's similar with more than two disks.

You must also use these instructions if you wish to install Fedora on the first (win7) disk when there is a second disk - you'll need to shrink the Windows 7 drive to make room for Fedora if installing Fedora on the first hard disk.

However if you have only one hard disk, you must use the instructions on this page

If you prefer Linux Fedora's GRUB to be in control of the dual-boot, go here

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

EasyBCD. The highly-acclaimed EasyBCD is a free editing utility that allows any user to easily edit the Windows 7/Vista boot menu (the BCD or Boot Configuration Data). Some settings, not used here, are very advanced. EasyBCD works in Windows 7 and Vista, but also in Windows XP if you first install Microsoft's .NET 2.0 Framework.

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 with two or more hard disks (Advanced Users)

  1. Backup.
  2. Create Unallocated space for Linux on 2nd/3rd hard disk or at end of Windows disk (use Win7's Shrink).
  3. Install Linux Fedora 16 on the Unallocated space (called 'Free' in Linux)
    - select "Create custom layout", select the correct drive, and create EXT4 & Swap partitions in Free space
    - in "Install boot loader on ...", select "First sector of boot partition - /dev/sd**".
  4. Use the free EasyBCD 2.1.2(+) utility to add Linux to Windows boot loader - select "GRUB 2".

That's it! The Windows boot loader menu will boot Linux Fedora 16 and Windows 7.

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Details: Install Linux Fedora 16 on first or other disk when Windows 7 was installed on first and you have 2+ hard disks

It's the nature of a step-by-step that it appears long and difficult. Not so!

These instructions apply only if you have two or more hard disks even if installing on the first.

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.


Requirements

.
  • Installation CD/DVD for Linux and preferably Win7's DVD.
  • 2 downloads.
  • A first hard disk that uses only NTFS and contains a correctly working Windows 7.
  • More than one hard disk must be in your computer.

A. Make your preparations

.
  1. Backup important data before making any changes to a partition. You can burn files to a CD, clone an image of your hard disk, copy files to a USB flash/pen/thumb drive, or use an USB external drive (a good choice)
  2. Download Fedora 16 Live CD, standard or 64-bit version from http://fedoraproject.org/. You can use the excellent free GetRight download manager to help with the large download. Create the Fedora Live DVD from the downloaded .ISO file.
  3. Download Neosmart's EasyBCD v 2.1.2 or later (free - it simplifies editing the Win7/Vista boot loader).
    Optional: Download NeoSmart's free Windows 7 System Recovery Disk if your Win7 DVD is missing!
  4. Make sure all hard disks are installed before you start.
    Disconnect all unnecessary external devices before you start.

B Make space (Unallocated) for Fedora 16

You must create disk space and leave it as Unallocated. 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.

Always make a note of the size of the Unallocated space (it will be named 'Free' in Linux).

If installing Fedora 16 on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk:

  • You should have no trouble using Win7's Shrink in Disk Management to create Free space for Fedora.
  • Restart Windows when finished.
  • Then skip from here to C. Install Fedora 16

If installing Fedora 16 on the first hard disk:

This applies only if you are installing fedora on the first hard disk and you must make the Windows partition smaller.

  1. Restart computer correctly (close all programs/software before you Restart).
  2. Open Disk Management in Windows 7 (right-click Computer, select Manage, click Disk Management).
  3. Restart to Windows 7.
    • Open Disk Management and check that the change made is correct.

C. Install Fedora 16

Raid/LVM was not an issue when testing so partitions were created manually during installation. Fedora was installed with Grub 2 placed on the Linux EXT4 partition. The originally Active partition always remained Active after Fedora 16 installation so Windows then booted automatically. Finally EasyBCD created the Linux Fedora 16 entry in Win7's boot manager thereby creating the Windows dual-boot.

  1. Bootup fully from the Linux Fedora 16 Live CD to the Linux desktop.
    Select the Install to Hard Drive icon (in Activities > lowest icon).
    • Select the appropriate keyboard and then click Next.
    • Select Basic Storage Devices (unless you have a non-standard setup).
    • Enter a name for identification.
    • Select the correct city for your time-zone.
    • Create a Root Password of your choice (and remember it!).

  2. Select Create Custom Layout in the next screen (that's VERY important).
    • In Please Select A Device, highlight the Free space (check the Size) you created for Fedora on the correct hard disk, and click the Create button (sda=1st disk, sdb=2nd, sdc=3rd).
    • In Create Storage, select Standard Partition, and click Create.
      A new window will open. First create the Linux EXT4 partition.
      • In Mount Point:, select / (a forward slash).
      • In File System Type:, select ext4
      • In Allowable Drives, all drives can be enabled
      • In Size (MB):, enter all available space (for Fedora) except 2 GB (for the Swap File)
      • Leave Fixed size checked.
      • Click the OK button.

    • Back in Please Select A Device, note the name allocated to the new Device (like sda3, sdb1, sdc5).
    • Now highlight the remaining Free space on the same drive, and click the Create button.
    • In the next window, select Standard Partition, and click Create.
      A new window will open. Now create the Swap partition.
      • In Mount Point:, leave it blank.
      • In File System Type: drop-down, select swap.
      • In Allowable Drives, enable ONLY the drive used by Fedora (like sda or sdb or sdc).
      • Tick to enable Fill to maximum allowable size
      • Click the OK button
      Take a moment to look at the partitions to be created and Formatted.
      They're marked with a tick and no other partition should be ticked.


      Click NEXT when ready, or click Back to recreate partitions.
      Then click Go back if unhappy with the proposed changes.
      Click Write changes to disk when ready and now the new partitions will be created & formatted.
    • The next screen is vital to ensure the correct location for GRUB.
      • Tick Install boot loader on ..., and click the Change device button.
        Select First sector of boot partition - /dev/sd** and click OK
        (/dev/sd** is the Device name you noted above, like /dev/sda3 or /dev/sdb1).
      • Using a boot loader password is optional.
      • The following option may not be available.
        Under Boot loader operating system list, Fedora should be ticked (set as the Default).
        The "Other" boot option is for Win7 - highlight it and use Delete to remove it (strongly recommended).
      • Click Next.
    • The install process will start now. Click Close when it's completed.
       
  3. Restart your computer when installation is completed (remove the CD). Windows 7 will boot automatically.

    We can now use EasyBCD 2.1.2(+) to add Linux Fedora 16 to the Windows boot loader menu.

D. Put a Linux Fedora 16 boot option in Windows boot loader

  1. Restart to Windows 7
  2. Install and run EasyBCD 2.1.2(+).
    Click Add New Entry in the left pane.
    • Click the Linux BSD tab under Operating Systems in upper right pane.
      • In Type, select Grub 2 in the drop-down.
      • In Name, use a name like Linux Fedora 16.
      • In Device, it will be Automatically configured - that's correct for GRUB 2.
      • Click Add Entry in the same pane and wait a few moments while EasyBCD locates Fedora.
    • Optionally, you can now modify the timeout of the boot loader menu
      - click the Edit Boot Menu (left pane) and set the Boot default OS after to about 5 seconds.
    • Exit EasyBCD.
  3. Restart computer. Select Fedora 16 from the Windows 7 boot menu and complete its installation.

Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Fedora 16 with Windows still in control when Windows 7 was installed first and you had more than one hard disk.

Footnote: EasyBCD creates an NST folder on the root of the Windows partition when it adds an operating system to the Windows 7 boot loader. This NST folder contains one or two files vital to booting the added OS. Be sure you do not accidentally delete it.

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Uninstall/Remove Linux and reclaim space

Linux Fedora is wonderful, regularly updated, and it's free! Nevertheless you may wish to remove it at some stage. Removing Fedora from this dual-boot, and regaining its disk space, is quick and painless.

  1. Run EasyBCD in Windows 7.
    • Click Edit Boot Menu.
      • Highlight the Linux entry.
      • Click the Delete button.
      • Click the Save Settings button.
    • Exit EasyBCD.
  2. Open Disk Management (right-click Computer, select Manage, click Disk Management).
    • Right-click the Swap partition, select Delete Volume..., click Yes.
    • Right-click the Swap partition, select Delete Partition, click Yes - required for Logical partitions only.
    • Right-click the Linux partition, select Delete Volume..., click Yes.
    • Right-click the partition to the left of Unallocated, select Extend Volume...,
      and click Next to use the maximum space for Windows, and then Finish.
      Alternatively, create a new partition in the Unallocated space and Format it.

In just a few second you will have all the Linux space back in Windows 7. Restart computer.

Note: EasyBCD has an Uninstall shortcut in Start > All Programs > NeoSmart Technologies.

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Repair Windows 7 Startup

You will not have any problem if you follow the instructions as stated above. However you might encounter some freak occurrence like a power failure during an installation. Windows 7 should always boot again if you execute the following procedure.

  1. First check that the originally active partition is marked Active (it's probably the Win7 partition) - read Make NTFS Partition Active.
  2. Bootup any Windows 7/Vista installation DVD or even from NeoSmart's free Windows 7 System Recovery Disk.
    It must be a 64-bit version if a 64-bit Windows is installed.
    • Press a key when you see Press any key to boot from a CD or DVD.
    • Select your Language and then Time....
    • Select Repair your computer (bottom left of the Install now screen).
      An automatic check of your system will run.
    • Click Repair and restart
      Windows 7 should boot normally (very likely). If not, continue here.
  3. Bootup from the Windows 7 installation DVD again
    • Select Repair your computer again.
    • In System Recovery Options, select Windows 7, and click Next.
    • Click Startup Repair.
    • Click Finish when it's complete, and then Restart.
    • You must let CheckDisk run if requested.
      Windows 7 should boot normally.

If still stuck for a solution, boot again from the installation DVD, select Repair your computer, highlight Windows 7, get to a Command Prompt, use DIR command (DIR C: or DIR D: etc.) to identify drive letter allocations (sizes and Labels will help), and type in:
bootrec /FixMbr
bootrec /FixBoot
bootrec /RebuildBcd
X:\boot\bootsect /nt60 C:
  (where X: is your DVD drive letter, and C: is the installation drive for Windows 7).
EXIT, and click Restart. Remove the DVD.

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Help! I get only the GRUB boot menu!

If you only get a GRUB boot menu on bootup, then GRUB was mistakenly installed to the Active partition, (hd0) - probably the Windows partition. The Windows boot loader has been overwritten by the Linux version but it's easily recovered.

How to reinstall/recover the Windows 7/Vista boot loader (BCD)

  1. Bootup any Windows 7/Vista installation DVD or even from NeoSmart's free Windows 7 System Recovery Disk.
    It must be a 64-bit version if a 64-bit Windows is installed.
    • Press a key when you see Press any key to boot from a CD or DVD.
    • Select your Language and then Time....
    • Select Repair your computer (bottom left of the Install now screen).
      An automatic check of your system will run but will not identify GRUB control!
    • In System Recovery Options, highlight Windows 7, and click Next.
    • Click Command Prompt in System Recovery Options.
      • Type in (and press ENTER)
        Bootrec.exe /fixmbr
        exit
        (GRUB will be overwritten and the Windows boot loader reinstalled).
    • Now click Startup Repair in System Recovery Options.
    • Restart computer.
      Windows 7 should boot as originally.

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Related Reading

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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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