For those Windows users who have discovered what Linux has to offer, but for one reason or another are not ready to completely abandon Windows, dual-booting between the two operating systems is one method of keeping a foot in both worlds. And to help those users, this article presents a step-by-step guide on how to configure dual-booting between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04 on a computer with one hard drive. The same steps may be used to dual-boot both between both systems on a computer with two hard drives.

In attempting to dual-boot between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04, you will either install Windows anew, then install Ubuntu 11.04 alongside it, or install Ubuntu 11.04 alongside an existing installation of Windows. This tutorial uses as example, a case of installing Ubuntu 11.04 on an existing installation of Windows 7.

As shown in the image below, the existing installation of Windows 7 used for this tutorial has three primary partitions. And because of the limitations of the MBR partitioning scheme, only one primary partition is available for installing Ubuntu 11.04. By using an extended partition, we can configure as many partitions as we need for Ubuntu.

To begin, boot the computer using a Ubuntu 11.04 CD or DVD. At the disk partitioning step, the installer will present several options. Because the installer will not automatically partition and configure the free space, using the installer’s advanced partitioning tool is the only method of creating the necessary partitions. To launch the advanced tool, select the “Something else” option, the click Forward.

This is Ubuntu’s advanced partitioning tool and the detected partitions. The first three partitions are obviously the ntfs partitions that we saw in the first image. Because there are three existing primary partition, the last partition will have to be an extended partition, under which logical partitions for installation of Ubuntu will be configured.

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By default, Ubuntu’s installer configures two partitions – the first for /, the root directory, and the second for Swap. When creating partitions for installing any desktop Linux distribution, my recommendation is to create the following four partitions:

  • /boot, the boot partition. This is where programs critical for booting the system will reside.
  • /, the root directory. The bulk of the programs used for running the system will be installed here.
  • Swap, unformatted disk space for use as virtual memory.
  • /home, the partition where your home directory will be located. In the course of using the system, files and folders you create will reside in various folders here.

So, to start setting up these partitions, select the free space and click on Add. Note that this step will have to be repeated for all the partitions.

The first partition will be for /boot. When setting up an LVM-based system using an Alternate Installer ISO image, the default disk space allocated to /boot is 258 MB. However, only about 22 MB of that is used, so anything thing between that size range will do. For this tutorial, the default will be used. The mount point will, of course, be /boot. The default file system is ext2. OK.

The second partition will be for Swap. It is possible to install Ubuntu without Swap. However, if you attempt to do that, the installer will try to discourage you with the following warning:

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For the record, I have been able to install Ubuntu 11.04 successfully without Swap. The sky has not fallen yet, but I have not tried to put the system in Suspend or Hibernate mode. In any case, save yourself a load of trouble and configure Swap. The suggested size for Swap is 2000 MB. Select “swap area” from the “Use as” dropdown menu. OK.

The third partition will be for /, the root directory. The default journaling file system on Ubuntu 11.04 is ext4. You may stick with it or choose another journaling file system available. Btrfs is supported, but this partitioning scheme is not for btrfs. If you are interested, how to install Ubuntu 11.04 on a btrfs file system is a good place to start.

The installer recommends a minimum of 4.4 GB for Ubuntu 11.04, but on a new installation, less than 3 GB of disk space allocated to / is used. Note that as you install additional applications after installation, disk space used will grow, so be generous here. I think 10 GB should be more than enough. OK.

The last partition will be for /home. The file system is ext4, and you may allocate all available disk space to it. OK.


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6 Responses

  1. Hi,
    I have the same problem with installing Linux mint 18
    and there is a grub installation error
    is there any one like me who had the same problem
    would be relived if some body give me a hint

  2. It should have been simple- a friend just want a cheap Linux Mint computer- a laptop.
    Lenovo G50 from Amazon arrives two days later. Window 8- free upgrade to W10. So we plan a dual boot.

    We set up Mint 17.1 Cinnamon with help of cover disk. Partition Windows down to 120G leaving a \, \swap and 700G \home.

    48 hours later I am left with a 470G W10 brick that has defeated all attempts to be configured.

    http://linuxbsdos.com/2015/02/27/dual-boot-linux-mint-17-1-windows-7-on-a-pc-with-uefi-firmware/ helped enormously and I had working Mint 17.1 with 403G \home partition running off the ethernet cable. I manipulated BIOS using the hidden pencil point operated button on the left so I had a clunking dual boot.

    Then I unplugged the cable: No wifi

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1436940 is on the job.

    I booted into Windows (by now W10) and wifi works. Booted back into Linux? No. No linux, no grub. By fiddling I can boot into a live Mint 17.2 USB install iso. I poked around but was just poking- the partition table seems to have been changed.

    Two problems:
    Dual boot doesn’t work– looking for ideas.
    Mint Wifi doesn’t work– waiting for the bug to be fixed.

  3. I have Successfully installed Ubuntu 14.04 along with the windows 10 , the Only problem i am facing right not is that when i start the computer it directly takes me to the Windows 10 without taking me to the grub window option , whether to choose Ubuntu or Windows 10
    please help me ..?

    1. I think that’s because Windows 10 is set as the default in the UEFI Setup Utility.

      Go into the UEFI Setup Utility and make Ubuntu the default boot manager. Do you know how to access your computer’s BIOS or UEFI Setup Utility?

      You should be aware that even after making that change, it will not necessarily remain so, because of the how some PC vendors implemented UEFI. In some cases, the default boot manager is the one that was last booted, regardless of the setting in the UEFI Setup Utility.

      So play with yours and see how it works.

  4. Get a win10 preview .iso (I use build 10162), (in windows) use rufus to create a bootable usb. Open the usb, delete the UEFI folder. Shut down system.
    Insert the live linux usb, boot from this usb, format C drive as NTFS. Shut down.
    Remove linux usb, insert win10 usb, install (in legacy mode), get into disk management and create > 10Gb free space by downsizing windows. Go to control panel, then power mangement/options, turn off all features enabling windows to sleep or hibernate – NEVER!. Shut down.
    Insert linux usb, power up, install linux alongside win10. This should result in a dual boot system, linux can automatically see win10, you can fine tune the boot order with grub-customizer. None of this mucking around ‘failed to install’ etc. Cheers, AA

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