The first two articles on dual-booting Windows 7 and Linux distributions published here involved installation on a computer with a single hard drive. Those articles on dual-booting Fedora 14 and Ubuntu 10.10 with Windows 7 are available here and here. This article will cover a different use-case, dual-booting Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10 or Linux Mint 10 on a computer with two hard drives. The computer used for this installation is a relatively old one that once saw service as a Web server. It has 512 MB of memory, two hard drives – a primary (80 GB) and a secondary (40 GB).
The primary hard drive has an existing installation of Windows 7 Ultimate. The objective here is to install Ubuntu or Mint on the second(ary) disk. There are several methods of setting up this system, but I have chosen the simplest. If you need help setting up a configuration different from that presented here, join the Mint forum or Ubuntu forum, ask your question and I will do my best to get you the appropriate answer.
Ok, back to the main task. So, we have a computer with two hard disks, with Windows 7 installed on the first disk, and Ubuntu or Mint to be installed on the second disk. Note: The images used in this tutorial were from an installation using Mint 10. Since Mint uses the Ubuntu installer, the steps would be the same if you are installing Ubuntu instead of Mint. The only difference will be the colors.
To reduce the number of images used in this tutorial, we fast forward to the step in the installation process where disk partitioning is about to start. The installer presents three disk partitioning methods. Our choice is going to be the last one – Specify partitions manually (advanced). Forward.
This is where the fun starts. Here, the installer shows all the disk and disk partitions it found on the system. The first disk (/dev/sda) has two partitions – /dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2. These are the partitions where Windows 7 is installed. The second disk – /dev/sdb, has no operating system on it. That is where Mint (or Ubuntu) is going to be installed.
This image just shows the other disk where Mint (or Ubuntu) is going to be installed. The installer does not allow all to be shown without scrolling. Select the free space as shown and click on Add to create the first partition.
For this tutorial, four partitions are going to be created. The first should always be for /boot, then a swap partition, and the other two for / and /home. You can create as many partitions as you want, but these are the minimum recommended for a desktop computer.
The first partition you will need to create will be for /boot. The installer will, by default, create it as a primary partition, and that is acceptable. A /boot size of 200 MB to 500 MB should be enough. Distributions like Fedora and those based on it now default to a /boot size of 500 MB. Be sure to select /boot as the mount point. For file system type, the default is ext4. Because of the overhead issue that comes from using a journaling file system, there is an ongoing debate whether /boot needs ext4. One group says that it does not, while another says that it does not matter. Where do I stand on this? It does not matter. Use what ever you feel is the right one. I have never had any issues from using a journaling file system for /boot. But that does not make it right. If you are not comfortable using a journaling file system on /boot, use ext2. Note that virtually all Linux distributions that use a separate /boot partition, use ext4. MeeGo, by the way, uses ext3 (another journaling file system for /boot). When you have made the choice you feel comfortable with, click OK.
With /boot created, select the free space as shown and click on Add to create the next partition. This step will have to be repeated for every partition you need to create.
The next partition will be for swap. The installer will attempt to create this and subsequent partitions as logical partitions, but I like to make them primary (I am only creating four). If you are going to create more than four partitions, you will, of course, need to create logical partitions. A swap space of 2 GB to 5 GB should be enough. Be sure to select “swap area” from the first dropdown menu. OK.