Dual-boot Pear Linux 5 and Windows 7 on a PC with 2 hard drives

Pear Linux is a desktop distribution with a custom GNOME 3 interface. It is based on Ubuntu Desktop, and it is one of those distribution’s you want to use if you do not like Ubuntu’s graphical interface, Unity, or the stock GNOME 3 desktop.

The latest edition, Pear Linux 5, was released just a few days ago. While a detailed review is still in the works, this article presents a step-by-step on how to dual-boot it with Windows 7 on a computer with two hard drives.

It is assumed that Windows 7 is installed on /dev/sda, the first hard drive recognized by the system, and Pear Linux 5 will be installed on /dev/sdb, the second hard drive. And rather than use Pear Linux’s automated installation mode, all its partitions will be created manually. So aside from showing how to dual-boot Pear Linux 5 and Windows 7 on a computer with 2 hard drives, this article serves the secondary purpose of showing how to create partitions manually for installing Pear Linux 5 on any computer.

By default, the Pear Linux is installed on two partitions – the root partition and Swap. For this tutorial, it will be installed on four – the boot partition, root partition, home partition, and Swap. The boot partition is where all boot-related file and folders are located. Root holds all installed programs, while home is where you store all your data. Swap is disk space that the computer may use as virtual memory. Creating a separate partition for home makes it relatively easy to upgrade the system without messing with your data.

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After the installation has completed, the computer will always boot into Windows, since it is installed on the first hard drive. At that stage, you have two options, if you want to be able to boot into Pear Linux 5: Change the default boot disk to /dev/sdb in the BIOS, or add an entry for Pear Linux 5 in Windows 7’s boot menu. Because Pear Linux’s installer automatically adds an entry in GRUB’s boot menu, using the first method requires very little effort; no additional software installation is required. The second method involves installing a special program on Windows.

Either method works just fine. Ok, enough introduction. On to the task at hand. If you have not done so already, download an installation image of Pear Linux 5 for your platform from here. Transfer it to a suitable media, then boot the computer from it.

If you are new to Linux and are not familiar with disk partitioning in Linux, read guide to disks and disks partitions in Linux before diving into this. Also, reading tips for dual-booting Windows and Linux is highly recommended.

From the boot menu, shown below, you have the option of booting into a Live environment and starting the installation from there, or start the installer right from the boot menu. Your choice.
Pear Linux 5 Boot Menu

Whatever option you choose, once the installer starts, click through the first steps until you get to the disk detection step. You will likely see a message of the sort shown in this image. Click Yes. Note: The assumption here is that sdb will be used just for Pear Linux 5, and that there are no valuable data on it.
Pear Linux 5 Install

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You should eventually get to the step shown in this image. Since you are going to be creating partitions manually, select Something else, then click Continue. Keep in mind that even if you do not want to create partitions manually, it is better to select the same option as indicated here. That is the easiest way of ensuring that the installer will not install over Windows 7, which will destroy your data. Better save than sorry.
Pear Linux 5 Install Partition Methods

Selecting Something else and clicking Continue in the previous step should open the Advanced Partitioning Tool. You should see the disks and partitions connected to the computer. At the top of the list is sda, where Windows 7 is installed. You do not want to mess with that one. Any action you take here MUST be on sdb, the target disk for Pear Linux 5. If there are existing partitions on it, as in this example, delete them. You do that by selecting each partition and clicking Delete. Again, be sure that you are not messing with any partition under sda.
Pear Linux 5 Install Advanced Partition

After all the partitions (under sdb) have been deleted, select the free space and click Add.
Pear Linux 5 Install Add Partition

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  1. A tip I find useful for multi-partitions using Linux is to make the boot and root partitions first to your requirements. Then make the swap partition but choose the end of the drive. Finally create the home partition using the remaining free space.

  2. This was really informative, thanks for sharing, I wasn’t too sure what pear Linux was.

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