Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Dual-Boot of Linux Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) on Windows 7 computer (Win7 installed first and Linux's GRUB2 on Linux partition controlling startup)
Last reviewed: May 2010
This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Ubuntu 10.04 on a computer with Windows 7 already installed. The Linux GRUB2 boot loader will be installed on the Linux partition and put in control of startup (not Windows' BCD). You can then select either OS from a menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.
In this procedure you need to create a Primary partition for Linux Ubuntu because that partition must be marked as Active. You will also need a Logical partition for the Linux Swap area. If you already have three Primaries (including a System Reserved) then you should consider writing GRUB2 to the MBR (previous link) or allow Windows to continue controlling the startup (read this page).
In creating this dual-boot you need to shrink the Windows 7 drive to make room for Linux. You must then create a formatted partition for Ubuntu 10.04. This partition will later be deleted during the Ubuntu setup and recreated under Ubuntu. For this reason you are advised to create the Ubuntu partition(s) at the end of the hard disk so you do not interfere with Windows' disk management of the rest of the disk.
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), 1.5 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 your have a rescue plan. This guide also contains that rescue plan - just in case!
The procedure used is suitable for moderately 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! Linux's GRUB2 boot loader menu will boot either Linux Ubuntu 10.04 or Windows 7 and the original MBR is unchanged. If you ever wish to return to a Windows-controlled startup, just use Disk Management to mark the originally active partition Active again - then, if you wish, you can use the free EasyBCD utility to add Linux to the Windows Boot Loader menu.
STEP-BY-STEP: Install Linux Ubuntu 10.04 when Windows 7 is installed 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.
A. Make your preparations
B. Make disk space available for Linux Ubuntu
The single 160 GB disk usually used in testing initially had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows 7 (150 GB, Primary, NTFS). The Windows 7 drive was shrunk leaving about 20 GB Unallocated space at the end of the disk (to the right) and a partition created there and Formatted. After repartitioning it had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows 7 (130 GB, Primary, NTFS), New (20 GB, Primary, FAT32).
C. Install Linux Ubuntu 10.04
D. Make the Linux partition Active
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Ubuntu 10.04 when Windows 7 was installed first, the Linux GRUB2 Boot Loader is now in control, and the original MBR is unchanged.
Remove/Uninstall Linux and reclaim space
Linux Ubuntu is wonderful, regularly updated, and it's free! Nevertheless you may wish to remove it at some stage. Removing Ubuntu and regaining its disk space is quick and painless.
In another a few seconds you will have all the Linux space back in Windows 7.
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 will boot again if you execute the following procedure.
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:
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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