Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Ubuntu-controlled Dual-Boot of Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal) on a Windows Vista computer Windows Vista installed first and Ubuntu's GRUB2 on Windows partition controlling startup
Last reviewed: October 2012
This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal) on a computer with Windows Vista already installed. The Linux GRUB2 boot loader will be installed to the Windows partition and put in control of startup. You can then select either OS from Linux's GRUB2 menu during bootup. Basically you will have a Ubuntu-based computer system that also allows you to boot to Windows Vista whenever you wish. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.
In this procedure you need to shrink the Windows Vista drive to make room for Linux unless you install Ubuntu of a second hard disk. Using a second disk is a little easier but far from essential.
All 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista were used in testing. The computers used were:
If you decide to leave Windows (BCD) continue controlling the startup then go to this page
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 Vista or Vista drive. You should use Shrink in Windows' Disk Management to resize the Windows partition. If the free space achieved is inadequate, you can read Shrink the Windows Vista Partition for instructions on completing this task successfully. Use the free GParted Live CD to gain disk space only if you absolutely must - read the page Use GParted to Resize the Windows Vista Partition to learn how and, before you use GParted, read Repair Windows Vista Startup (below).
SUMMARY of Procedure (Advanced Users)
That's it! Linux's GRUB2 boot loader menu will boot either Ubuntu 12.10 or Windows Vista and the original MBR has been overwritten.
Details: Install Linux Ubuntu 12.10 when Windows Vista was installed first and replace Windows' control of startup
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.
Make your preparations
Make disk space available for Linux Ubuntu
You must create disk space and leave it as Unallocated. Decide first on how much disk space you need. Linux requires a minimum of two partitions - (1) Swap (Swap) and (2) Root (/) for Ubuntu files + boot files + all your data.
You may wish to create an extra EXT4 100MB minimum (10-30GB may be more reasonable) partition (/home) for your Linux data. This data partition can be left intact should you wish to upgrade or reinstall Linux at a later time.
The size of the Swap partition depends on the size of your memory (RAM) and your type of usage. With 2GB of RAM use about 4GB of Swap; with 4-8GB of RAM use about 6GB of Swap; with 16GB of RAM use about 8GB of Swap.
Make a note of the size of the Unallocated space.
If installing Ubuntu 12.10 on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk:
If installing Ubuntu 12.10 on the first hard disk:
Use the free GParted Live CD to gain adequate disk space only if you absolutely must - read the page Use GParted to Resize the Windows Vista or Vista Partition to learn how, and read Repair Windows Vista Startup (below) before you use GParted.
Install Linux Ubuntu 12.10 on a Windows Vista computer
No Raid or LVM was used when testing. Partitions were created manually during installation. Ubuntu was installed on previously created Unallocated space with its boot loader installed to the default /dev/sda partition. Ubuntu automatically added Windows Vista to its own boot menu which appeared on bootup.
Older Computers with low maximum Screen Resolution
Ubuntu 12.10 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.
Remove/Uninstall Linux Ubuntu 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.
Return boot control to Windows
Windows Vista will boot normally and without any boot menu if none existed initially.
Now reclaim the hard disk space used by Linux
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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