Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Linux-controlled Dual-Boot of Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) on Windows Vista computer and put GRUB2 on the Ubuntu partition (Vista installed first and Linux's GRUB2 on Linux partition controlling startup)
Last reviewed: June 2011
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This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu 11.04 on a computer with Windows Vista 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 Linux's GRUB2 menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.
In this situation you need to create a Primary partition for Linux Ubuntu because that partition must be marked as Active. If you already have three Primaries (including a System Reserved) and no Logicals, you can create a 4th Primary with Windows Vista's in-built command line utility Diskpart. You can install Ubuntu on a second hard disk if you are prepared to make a change to the disk boot priority in the BIOS.
If you prefer to overwrite the Windows-created MBR, you should go to this page
32 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista were used in testing 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
Installing Ubuntu 11.04 on a Second Hard Disk
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 Ubuntu 11.04 or Windows Vista and the original MBR is unchanged. If you ever want to return to a Windows-controlled startup, just use Disk Management in Windows Vista to mark the originally active partition Active again or just redo the BIOS boot priority if you changed it. Then, if you wish, you can use the free EasyBCD utility to add Linux Ubuntu 11.04 to the Windows Boot Loader menu.
STEP-BY-STEP: Install Linux Ubuntu 11.04 - Windows Vista installed first
Installing other operating systems on your Windows Vista 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 Vista (150 GB, Primary, NTFS). The Windows Vista drive was shrunk leaving about 20 GB Unallocated space at the end of the disk (to the right). After repartitioning it had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows Vista (130 GB, Primary, NTFS), Unallocated (20 GB).
If installing Ubuntu 11.04 on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk:
If installing Ubuntu 11.04 on the first hard disk:
C. Install Linux Ubuntu 11.04
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. Then the EXT4 partition was marked as Active, or the BIOS' disk boot order was altered, thereby creating the GRUB2-controlled dual-boot.
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu 11.04 when Windows Vista was installed first, the Linux GRUB2 Boot Loader is now in control, and the original MBR and Windows boot loader remain intact.
Older Computers with low maximum Screen Resolution
Ubuntu 11.04 itself runs fine at 1024x768 screen resolution. However GRUB2 may require a higher resolution (1280 x 1024) and users with old systems may be presented with a blank screen instead of the expected boot loader menu.
The boot menu is actually there but it's not visible! To run Ubuntu when the blank screen appears, just press Enter. To run Windows, press the down arrow key 4 times and press Enter. And then be patient for a few moments. THPC did not investigate this any further. Feedback appreciated.
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 Vista.
Repair Windows Vista 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 Vista 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 Vista, 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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