How to dual-boot Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon/MATE and Windows 7

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon and Linux Mint 13 MATE are the latest editions of the popular Linux desktop distribution based on Ubuntu Desktop. This tutorial presents a step-by-step guide on how to dual-boot either one with Windows 7 on a computer with a single hard drive.

Because the Cinnamon and MATE editions of Linux Mint 13 share the same installation program, the steps involved are the same regardless of the edition you use. For this tutorial, a 32-bit installation image of the Cinnamon edition was used.

If your computer is running a self-installed copy of Windows 7, the default number of partitions will be just like the ones shown in the image below. Keep in mind that the partitions on an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) installation could be different. For this tutorial, the operating assumption is that you computer is running a self-installed copy of Windows 7. Note: On your computer, make a mental note of the amount of free space on the C drive listed on this image. You will need the information during the installation of Linux Mint 13.
Windows 7 Partitions

The objective here is to install Linux Mint 13 on the same hard drive, with GRUB, Linux Mint’s boot loader, installed in the boot partition (of Linux Mint), leaving Windows 7’s boot programs in the hard drive’s Master Boot Record (MBR) untouched. Then using another application to add an entry for Linux Mint 13 in Windows 7’s boot menu, so that at boot time, you will be able to choose which operating system to boot into. Selecting Windows 7 will cause the computer to boot into Windows 7 and selecting Linux Mint 13 will boot the system into your newly installed copy of Linux Mint 13, but not after a brief stop at Linux Mint’s boot menu.
Windows 7 Boot Menu

After creating partitions for and installing Linux Mint 13, the new partitions as seen from inside Windows 7 will look a lot different. This image shows the partitions from the computer used for this tutorial after the dual-boot operating has completed.
Windows 7 Linux Mint 13 Partitions

For this tutorial, the partitions that will be created for Linux Mint 13 are: a partition mounted at /boot; root partition mounted at /; a partition mounted at /home; and a Swap partition. You do not need to create all four, but that is what will be done for this tutorial.

What do you need to complete this tutorial? Just five items:

  • This tutorial
  • You, and an Internet-connected computer, needed to read this tutorial.
  • An installation image of Linux Mint 13 (MATE or Cinnamon edition). You may download it from here. Burn the downloaded image to a DVD, or transfer it to a USB flash drive.
  • The target computer running Windows 7 (Note: you may opt to reinstall Windows 7 anew)
  • EasyBCD – a free software from NeoSmart Technologies that will be used to add an entry for Linux Mint 13 in Windows 7’s boot menu
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Note: If you are not familiar with disk partitioning in Linux and how to dual-boot operating systems, it is highly recommended that you read guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux and tips for dual-booting Windows and Linux before continuing with the rest of this tutorial.

Now that we have a pretty good idea of what we need to accomplish, time to get it done. To start, boot the computer from the Linux Mint 13 DVD installation image that you made. Linux Mint 13 DVD is a Live DVD and by default, will boot into a Live desktop environment. Click on the installer’s icon on the desktop to start the installation process. When the installer starts, click through the first steps until you get to the one shown below. You definitely do not want to select the second option. Like the second option, selecting the first option will lead to an automatic partitioning of the free space needed to install Linux Mint 13.
Mint 13 Disk Partition Options

Selecting the first option will actually bring you to this step, where you can see how the installer will resize the main Windows 7 partition (the C drive). The problem with selecting the first option, is that GRUB will be installed in the MBR of the hard drive, where it will overwrite Windows 7’s boot files. Since this is not what we want to do, the only option left, is the last option (Something else). So, if you are at this step, click the Back button.
Mint 13 Install

Selecting Something else and clicking Continue will bring you to the Advanced Partitioning Tool. “Advanced” does not mean that the tool is really advanced, it just means that it is for people who know how to partition disks in Linux. If you read and understood the material discussed in guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux, consider yourself an advanced user.

The main window of Advanced Partitioning Tool is shown below. By default, the partitions listed at this step – sda1 and sda2, are the two Windows 7 partition that we saw on the first image on this page. In Windows’ parlance, sda2 is the C drive, while sda1 is the System Reserved partition.

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Linux Mint 13 Advanced Partition Tool

The task here is to resize sda2, freeing up enough space that will be used to create the partitions for installing Linux Mint 13. To begin, select sda2 and click Change.
Linux Mint 13 Windows Partition

This is the resize window, also known as the Edit Partition window. The sda2 on the computer used for this tutorial has about 320 GB of disk space. How much of that disk space we can free up depends, of course, on what is available. This is where you have to be very careful.
Linux Mint 13 Resize Windows Partition

The system used for this tutorial was a recent installation, so Windows 7 has only used about 7 GB. With that, I decided to allocate 100 GB to Windows. That amount is what should be shown in the New partition size field. And that is all you need to do here. Click OK.
Linux Mint 13 Resized Windows Partition

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319 Comments

  1. Thanks a ton!

    Worked on my Windows 7 64 bit machine on getting Linux Mint 14 up and running.

    Very well laid out compared to other guides I have read on Linux stuff (I’m a linux beginner) – and the clarity undoubtedly saved me a headache or two

    • Amazing!!! Found this site and followed the perfect instructions. Everything seems to be running great. One thing I noticed is even with the Win 7 or Mint selection at boot up (easy BCD0 it still goes to a secont screen which included Win 7, Mint and a couple of other things. It seem to sit there for a very short time then boot into Mint, which I selected at boot up. This is no big deal. I just did not realize I would see this addition acreen. Again thanks. Could not have done it this with out this info.

      John

      • That second boot screen is GRUB’s boot menu. If you don;t want to see it, just edit /etc/default/grub and change GRUB_TIMEOUT=10 to GRUB_TIMEOUT=0

  2. Hi!
    I followed your tutorial which was very well explained, thanks!
    When I restart my computer, I have the menu to choose between my OS (Windows 8 and Mint 14). Windows 8 works fine, but when I want to load Mint, I get a screen that says something like
    “Windows couldn’t load properly. A recent modification of the software could have caused this. To correct this problem :
    1.Insert Windows Installation disk and restart the computer.
    2.Choose the language parameters.
    3.Click on “Repair your computer”
    If you don’t have this disk blah blah…
    File : \NST\AutoNeoGrub1.mbr
    State : 0xc000007b
    Infos : app or OS coulnd’t load because a needed file is missing or contains errors.”
    Can you help me out?

  3. Worked great – using Windows 7 and Linux Mint 14.

    Thanks!!!

  4. Perfect! It worked right off the bat, many thanks 😀

    Windows7 / Linux Mint 14

  5. I have a question, I’ve been playing around with Puppy Linux and already have made a partition for a Gnu/Linux install, how would I install this in an existing ext4 Partition? I had planned to use Mint as my Linux of Choice (Specifically the KDE flavor.)

    • You can’t install another distro in an existing ext4 partition, unless you want to wipe that existing installation and reuse the freed up space for the new install.

  6. Thank you very much for this tutorial. Very well explained and most important… it worked 100%!!

    (you saved my hard disk ;D)

  7. Question: At the “Installation Type” screen I get the following-
    Size Used
    /dev/sda1 ntfs 111797MB unknown

    Consequently when I select sda1, and click “change” I do not have an “New Partition Size” option – Only “Use as:” and “Mount Point”

    Any ideas how I can get the system to report the “Used” value?
    Thanks.

    • If the installer is not reporting usage value for an ntfs partition, it is better to resize it from Windows. Viewing it from Windows will give you a better idea of how much free space is left on it.

      Use Windows’ partition manager (type “partitions” into the search box to find it).

  8. Thank you or this guide. Because of it, I found out what I did wrong on my previous attempt to dual boot with Linux Mint 14 (realizing the interaction between the GRUB loader and Windows 7’s BootMGR).

    You are awesome for taking the time to do this. Thank you again.

  9. Great tutorial. Thanks so much. I now have a dual-boot netbook.

  10. Already tried this with Maya 14 and Windows 8. Windows 8 has taken some steps towards securing the system boot record, but it works fine. Windows 8 will show the options on its signature style, then will reboot the machine to start from Maya partition. This made me think at first I had failed, but as said before, it worked fine.

  11. I modified this process to build a machine that uses full-disk encryption but still dual-boots Windows and Linux. I’m now on Mint 14, but it works with Ubuntu and Mac OS, as well. Thanks much.

  12. Every step on the article was covered and Asus 1225C is now running both Win7 and Linux Mint 14. Win7 seems to be booting just fine, but when Mint 14 is chosen from the boot menu it does not go right to the log in screen. It pops up a message as follows:

    [title of page:]
    gnu grub version 2.00-7ubuntu11

    […followed by 5 options to choose from]
    linux mint 14 mate 32 bit 3.5.7-17-generic (/dev/sda3)
    linux mint 14 mate 32 bit 3.5.7-17-generic (/dev/sda3) — recovery mode
    memory test(memtest86+)
    memory test(memtest86+, serial console 115200)
    windows 7 (loader) (on /dev(sda1)

    [… followed by directions given at the bottom of the screen]
    use the “up arrow” and “down arrow” keys to select which entry is highlighted
    press enter to boot the selected OS, “e” to edit the commands before booting or “c” for a command line

    When I choose the first option, the screen goes very dark with the following message displayed:

    Failed to start X server (your graphical interface). It is likely that it is not set up correctly. Would you like to view the x server output to diagnose the problem? Yes or No

    Once I choose “yes” the following comes up:
    x.org x server 1.13.0
    release date 2012-09-05
    x protocol version 11, revision 0
    build operating system: linux 3.2.0-26-generic i686 ubuntu
    current operating system: linux 1225c 3.5.0-17-generic #28-ubuntu SMP
    tue oct 9 19:32:08 UTC 2012 i686
    kernel command line: BOOT_IMAGE=/vmlinuz-3.5.0-17-generic
    root=UUID=894b4915-4f89-48b5-bb14-69329e1aac15 ro quiet splash
    vt.handoff=7
    build date: 08 october 2012 03:34:08pm
    xorg-server 2:1.13.0-0ubuntu6 (for technical support please see http://www.ubuntu.com/support)
    current version of pixman: 0.26.0
    before reporting problems, check http://wiki.x.org to make sure you have the latest version

    Any idea what has gone wrong in the installation?

    4x Intel Atom CPU N2800 @ 1.86Ghz
    Memory 2gb
    Linux Mint 14 MATE 32-bit
    500gb HD

    • Most likely you need to install a video driver. Try logging into a terminal-environment ( + + ) and install it from there.

      Example: if you have a nvidia graphics card you write:
      “sudo apt-get install nvidia-current”

      if you have a card from another vendor just google it

  13. Lovely!!
    Thanks a million!! This helped a lot.. Had installed Mint about thrice before i realized i was missing the MBR updation!! a quick googling brought me here..

    THANKS A LOT!!!

    I now have Win7 + Mint 13 (Cinnamon) dual boot!! :)

  14. Pingback: Granny Get Your Linux » Dual Boot Success | Granny Get Your Linux

  15. Hi I followed the directions for How to dual-boot Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon/MATE and Windows 7 and after following the directions and completing the step to free up space to install the Mint distribution the partitioning tool indicated that the free space I had was now not usable and would not allow me to continue in making the 4 partitions needed for the installation. Only the revert option was available. Did eventually try this as only option available but it did nothing. What happened? Did I do something wrong? Did I lose the space I allocated (125GB)? Can this be fixed? Thanx.

    • It likely means that the free space is outside of the maximum of 4 primary partitions that you are allowed on a disk. You might want to read guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux. It contains info that will give you a fundamental understanding of the subject.

      Post the number and size of the partitions on that disk, after reading that article.

      • I read the “Guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux” article and understand that I need an extended partition because I already have 4 partitions on my present hard drive. They are the “C” drive (with 558GB after I tried to add the new 125GB partition for Mint, a recovery partition (19.9GB), an HP Tools partition (3.95GB) and System partition (199MB). In addition I know have the 125GB of free space that is “unusable”. The main question I have is can I recover this free space and use it for Mint or return it to my windows. If I can use it for Mint how would I make it an extended partition as I did not see how to do this in the “Guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux”. Really any information on recovering this unusable space would be greatly appreciated.
        Thanx
        Matthew

        • Under Linux, those Windows partitions will be seen like this:

          sda
          sda1 199 MB (system partition)
          sda2 558 GB (C drive)
          sda3 19.9 GB (recovery partition)
          sda4 3.95 GB (HP tools partition)

          Because they are all primary partitions, you are not going to be able to create any other partition, and any space you recover from any of the partitions, will be unusable.

          Your only option is to delete one of the partitions that you can afford to delete. You may then use that free space to create an extended partition, and logical partitions under it.

          The big decision is which partition can you delete without screwing up the system. The C drive and System partition are off limits. So you are left with the other two. And of those two, the HP tools partition is your best bet.

          Assuming that you delete that partition, the 3.95 GB from it and the unusable space will now be combined. Hope all this makes sense?

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