Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Dual-Boot of Linux Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) on Windows 7 computer (Win7 installed first and Linux's GRUB2 on Linux partition controlling startup)
Last reviewed: April 2012
This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) 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 7). You can then select either OS from a menu during bootup. Basically you will have a Ubuntu-based computer system that also allows you to boot to Windows 7 whenever you wish. 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 overwriting the Windows-created MBR or create a Windows-based system.
If you prefer to overwrite the Windows-created MBR, you should go to this page
All 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 were used in testing. The computers used were:
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 experienced computer users.
Important Installation Notes
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.
Hidden Active Partition. Many Windows 7 users will have a small Primary disk partition(s) that's marked active and is hidden (but is visible under Disk Management in Windows 7). This must be counted if you want to create a new Primary.
SUMMARY of Procedure (Advanced Users)
That's it! Linux's GRUB2 boot loader menu will boot either Linux Ubuntu 12.04 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 12.04 on a Windows 7 computer and create Ubuntu control but leave Windows 7's MBR unaltered
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.
Make your preparations
Make disk space available for Linux Ubuntu
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 Unallocated space when it's created.
If installing Ubuntu 12.04 on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk:
If installing Ubuntu 12.04 on the first hard disk:
Install Linux Ubuntu 12.04
Raid/LVM was not an issue when testing and partitions were created manually during installation. Ubuntu was installed on previously created Unallocated space with its boot loader installed to the Linux EXT4 / partition. Windows still booted automatically after Ubuntu installation. Finally GParted was used to mark the EXT4 / partition as Active giving control of bootup to Ubuntu which has automatically added Windows to its boot menu.
We now need to make the Linux EXT4 partition Active.
Mark the Linux EXT4 partition as Active
This is the Ubuntu EXT4 partition you created with / as Mount Point.
If you installed Ubuntu on the Windows 7 hard disk
If you installed Ubuntu on a different hard disk
Restart computer. You will be presented with a Linux Boot Loader menu containing both operating systems.
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. Just use Disk Management to make the originally active partition Active again!
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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