How to dual-boot Ubuntu 10.10 and Windows 7

Author’s Note: This article shows how to dual-boot the OSs, with GRUB installed in the MBR. While this method works, the recommended method is to install GRUB in the boot partition of Ubuntu, so that the Windows boot loader will be responsible for dual-booting. A step by step guide for this latter approach has now been published: Dual-booting Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10 (Part 2).
While I will never encourage anybody to use Windows, any version of Windows, I do accept the fact that a significant percentage of users still have to use it. I also accept the fact that some users would like to dual-boot between Linux (whatever the distribution they prefer) and Windows. Linux and BSD installation programs make dual-booting with other operating systems very easy, such that if you are satisfied with partitions created by your distribution, a tutorial like this one is not necessary. However, if you need to create a custom partitioning scheme, different from the system default, this tutorial will be useful, especially if you are new to disk partitioning in Linux.

Images used in this tutorial were obtained from installation in a virtual environment, with a disk size of 200 GB. The objective is to use about 50 GB of that for Windows 7, and the rest for Ubuntu 10.10. When setting up a dual-boot configuration between Windows and a Linux or BSD distribution, always install Windows first. Otherwise, Windows will happily wipe your hard disk clean and install itself. The first task then is to install Windows first, then Ubuntu. Note: The assumption here is that Windows 7 is being installed anew. So boot up the computer the Windows 7 installation CD.

You might also be interested in how to dual-boot Linux Mint 10 and Ubuntu 10.10 on a computer with two hard drives.

At the disk partition step of the installation process, the window similar to the one below should be on your screen. To create the Windows partition, click on New.

Windows 7 partitioner

Here the Windows 7 installer lets you specify the disk space to use. The original size of the disk in shown. All that is required is to change it to the size we want to use for Windows 7.

Whole disk size

With the required size assigned, click Apply.

Windows 7 partition size

The installer will create two primary partitions as shown. The first one (Disk 0 Partition 1: System Reserved) is for installing Windows 7 loader files and the second (Disk 0 Partition 2) is for installing Windows 7 itself. When it comes time to install Ubuntu 10.10, the Ubuntu installer will identify these two partitions as /dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2 respectively. The unallocated space is what will be used for installing Ubuntu. Click Next to continue with the installation, which should take about 20 minutes.

Install Windows to partition

With Windows 7 installed, time to install Ubuntu 10.10. Reboot the computer into the Ubuntu installation medium. When you click to install, you will click through about three steps before getting to the one shown below. There are three options. Because the goal here is to create a custom set of partitions different from the Ubuntu default, select the last option and click Forward.

Manual partition

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  1. Thank you .I used to have a problem with the dual boot but now it’s solved :)

  2. Great simple solution. I have been running ubuntu on Vmware workstation within Windows 7. Been running super stable, but I always wanted the dual boot solution. I prefer it actually.

  3. thnkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkks
    very veryyyyyyyyy muchhhhhhhh

  4. Thanks for a really clear example of how to set up multiple partitions, with an idea of sizes… the screenshots really help, too. I couldn’t remember how to set up my swap space. My new install of Ubuntu has been working like a charm. I set up my /home on my secondary partition.

  5. Pingback: Dual-boot Ubuntu 10.10 and Windows 7 | TurboLinux Blog

  6. Spectacular guide. Lots of screenshots and very detailed.

    You have my thanks, great job!

  7. Pingback: Installing Windows 7 is tough! - Digit Technology Discussion Forum

  8. Wondering whether you can dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu or any other Linux distribution on an external hard drive? See this post for the answer

  9. Symon@sid u really have to stop complaining, i got Windows XP Professional running on the version of virtualbox that supports external devices and its got iTunes installed and can sync my ipod touch with NO ISSUES. So next time, google a fix instead of complaining. 😉

  10. Can you use the same method to install ubuntu in the secondary usb external hdisk

    • If you are going to install Ubuntu or any other distribution on an external storage, you should not be thinking about dual-booting. That;s not what dual-booting is for. That type of installation should be stand-alone.

  11. i think this will work with crunchbang too, because the cruchbang installer is very similar to ubuntu’s.

    any thoughts?

    • Yep, it should work. The key is to remember where you installed GRUB, and whether you want GRUB or the Windows boot manager to be responsible for dual-booting.

      • i’d like GRUB to be responsible for dual boot.
        so i shall install it on the /boot partition.
        i hope it works, going to install #! right now. see ya on the other side!


        • If you want GRUB to be responsible for dual-booting, then install it on the MBR, not on the boot partition.

          • yes, i did that. it works!!!
            but on booting, it didnt show the windows partition, so i ran sudo update-grub. it found the correct settings and i now have a dual booting laptop!!!

            thanks finid, i’ve referred your page to all my friends.

  12. Pingback: How to dual boot Windows & Ubuntu? - Digit Technology Discussion Forum

  13. Thanks! Nice an easy.

  14. I had a windows installed. also had WUBI working. Tried installing Ubuntu newly uninstalling wubi. When i did this, I had to lose the 1TB of data because of the ubuntu which used the whole hard disk instead of using the largest partition in the 1 TB drive which was supposed to be used. I never knew that it was formatting the whole drive and installing ubuntu there until i was done with installation and tried to boot into Windows. I never was so sucked up with this ubuntu. I thought it made me love itself. But it failed now.

    • ubuntu did not fail. your ignorance did.
      frankly, you should have at least read the install instructions.

      i researched for 2 days before installing my first distro(ubuntu). if you had done the same, you would be enjoying it too, not cursing it.

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