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How to dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04

swapwarn

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.
dualBoot3

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.
dualBoot4

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.

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.
dualBoot5

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.
dualBoot6

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:
swapwarn

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.
dualBoot7

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.
dualBoot8

The last partition will be for /home. The file system is ext4, and you may allocate all available disk space to it. OK.
dualBoot9

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Buho
10 years ago

Thank you !, It works perfectly !.

Ravindra Siwach
Ravindra Siwach
10 years ago

Apparantly this doesn’t work with Ubuntu 12 but only with Ubuntu 11. I am assuming all those who got a failed to install GRUB in /boot were trying to install Ubuntu 12. I have tried 5 times with some little tweaks to install GRUB in /boot for Ubuntu 12 i.e. increasing /boot partition size, changing the format to ext4 etc but nothing works. I even set me partitions the same way so there is no misunderstanding. Now when I installed Ubuntu 11, it works fine for me. GRUB was easily installed in /boot and there were no problems at all. Please look into this. Try a fresh intall yourself and see what the problem is. Thanks.

nmcaz
nmcaz
Reply to  Ravindra Siwach
10 years ago

Just tried this tutorial on a Vbox virtual machine, with Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04 and it works perfectly.
Next step: trying it on my laptop 🙂

nmcaz
nmcaz
Reply to  finid
10 years ago

I still haven’t installed ubuntu 12.04 in my laptop,maybe later in the week. But in my “experiences” I ended up repeating the same process to dual boot windows 7 and xubuntu 12.04 (again in a VBox machine). This time I ended up with the same fatal error when trying to install GRUB in /BOOT partition. The only difference betwen the two processes was deactivating the PAE for xubuntu. Tomorrow i’ll try again with Ubuntu 12.04, with PAE activated, as in the first try I made.
I’m relatively new to linux, and have a lot to learn, so I really don’t yet understand the reason why the fatal erros occured this time (Desktop environment, kernel, PAE, ???). Any ideas on this?

nmcaz
nmcaz
Reply to  nmcaz
10 years ago

Well, I don’t know why, but after trying the exact same install as I did sucessfuly the first time, I got the fatal error message, and my installation did not finished… Have no idea why…
Has anyone had better luck with this issue?

Slaughter83
Slaughter83
10 years ago

Hi there! I ran into a little problem with my installation. Everything went just fine untill it was supposed to install the grub then i got a fatal error but I solved that with choosing /dev/sda5 again and then the installation completed. Then I followed your steps for for easyBCD and when i reboot I can choose Ubuntu 11.10 but then I get into a commandprompt lokking like this

/GRUB

and a text that tells me I an get commands by presing TAB and when I do that I get a bunch of commands. But I don´t know how get any further. So should I try to do the Bootrepair or is something elese wrong?

German
German
Reply to  finid
10 years ago

Hi, i’m having the same issue.
When i select grub2 in the EasyBCD, i cant select where is the grub installed (it says automatically configured and dont let me select one…).

German
German
Reply to  German
10 years ago

oh, i am installing ubuntu 12.04, i think is the same but… just in case

German
German
Reply to  finid
10 years ago

yes but ubuntu never starts… it only shows a command line like Slaughter83 describes.

kwangil
kwangil
Reply to  Slaughter83
10 years ago

same fatal error message when I choose /boot partition as Device for Boot loader installation…
even I choose other partition( / , /home ), it’s showing the same error message.

so I just ignored the message, reboot, of course I could’nt get into ubuntu. booting with live USB, select try ubuntu, and

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair
boot-repair

http://askubuntu.com/questions/125428/grub-complains-of-no-such-partition-after-installing-1204

using this app, I could fix grub and dual booting has no any problem, looks like…

I don’t know what was problem. I created /boot as primary partition and Ext2 file system. Other people said that changing ext2 to ext4 could fix grub installation problem? I tried, doesn’t work…

kwangil
kwangil
Reply to  kwangil
10 years ago

so my quetion is …

is that really necessary to install the grub to boot partition then dev/sda ?

http://members.iinet.net.au/~herman546/p22.html

wait for your answers

kind regards.

toopiar
toopiar
10 years ago

Hi. In the step where you recommended installing GRUB in the /boot partition of Linux, I forgot to set it there and ended up installing it in the MBR. Is there any way to restore the windows bootloader and reinstall GRUB into the /boot partition? Thanks.

Mote pandurang
Mote pandurang
10 years ago

how to get back ubuntu after installing win7 in case of dual boot

Andrew
Andrew
10 years ago

So I followed your partitioning steps (I unallocated about 20 gb from windows 7). But after completing installation and attempting to boot back into windows it crashed due to hardware changes. I’m fairly certain I didn’t overwrite any existing windows drives. How can I fix this so that I can run windows again?

rahul
rahul
10 years ago

I had installed ubuntu 11.10 as main OS in partition, other than windows. But now i m not finding any option to boot windows. It just starts ubuntu, when i power on my laptop..
Please suggest any solution. Thankyou..

MC
MC
10 years ago

If Windows 7 has two primary partitions , could I create /boot as primary partition?Is there any difference if I follow the tutorial and use logical partition ?
Thank you very much.

MC
MC
Reply to  finid
10 years ago

I understand more clearly now. Thank you.

Shene
Shene
10 years ago

Hi
Thank you for this great article,
I have got a problem during the installation process. In the partitioning step my “free space” is inactive and it appears as “not usable space”
any ideas please?
Thank you

Ster
Ster
10 years ago

I followed the exact steps in this article by staring with a new Windows 7 installation. Then I installed Ubuntu 11.10 (not 11.04) with the same 4 logical partitions. I chose the bootloader to /boot but i was given a fatal error giving me the option to choose another location. Has anybody found a solution to this?

Noah
Noah
Reply to  Ster
10 years ago

Same here. What is the fix?

Error: “It was not possible to install the bootloader at the specified location: /dev/sda5. This is a fatal error.” It then asks to choose a different location.

Cricri
Cricri
Reply to  finid
10 years ago

Hi,
Tried to do the same operation, and got the same error message !. Tried also to create the boot partition as a primary partition, but no success !!

Jimmy
Jimmy
Reply to  Noah
10 years ago

I had the “fatal error” on sda5 as well (on two separate installs). There was another thread elsewhere about this for Ubuntu 11.10. Changing the filesystem to ext4 fixed the problem. I’m too much of a linux newb to state whether or not there will be side effects from choosing ext4 over ext4.

Jimmy
Jimmy
Reply to  Jimmy
10 years ago

er…that should read “choosing ext4 over ext2”

Jake
Jake
10 years ago

Hi mate,

Does this setting lets you view your ntfs partition? lets say i have C(Windows Files System) and D(NTFS partition). Will I be able to see those 2 partition when im on ubuntu?

Will it still work on 11.10?

regards,

Jake

nick
nick
10 years ago

Is there anyway to boot to Ubuntu without installing EasyBCD? I have a problem with windows so I can’t even get it to start up, much less install any programs on it.

Thanks

nick
nick
Reply to  finid
10 years ago

I followed all the instructions you provided, so I assume Ubuntu is installed correctly. I just do not know how to boot to it, as you instruct to install EasyBCD through Windows to be able to boot to Ubuntu, but I cannot install much less use Windows.

In other words, is there any other way to boot to Ubuntu other than using EasyBCD?

nick
nick
Reply to  nick
10 years ago

How can I get the option to select Ubuntu or Windows when the computer is starting up? I only have the option to start Windows, nothing in the BIOS has Ubuntu visible to me.

Is there a tutorial or simple solution to this (perhaps modifying GRUB)?

nick
nick
Reply to  finid
10 years ago

Thanks for the ideas. That’s what I was asking for, do you know any tutorials/sites that I can read/research that will show me how to install the GRUB to the MBR?

As you said, that seems to be the best way.

nick
nick
Reply to  nick
10 years ago

Any way you can help me on this?

Arcan
Arcan
10 years ago

Thanks for this great work.
I have followed your steps, but at the end of ubuntu installation I got a message that says can’t install boot loader to the specified location. I then tried many other locations but every time I got the same message.

Can you help me in this?
Thanks

Arcan
Arcan
Reply to  finid
10 years ago

Yes, I have windows 7 already installed and I have a single hard drive.

I followed the same partitioning scheme you had explained.

Thanks

kp
kp
Reply to  Arcan
10 years ago

I had the same issue. Went with install boot loader on MBR. Tried to load ubuntu after configuring EasyBCD and it went to a screen with the following:

grub>

any ideas?

Anthony Zhang
Anthony Zhang
Reply to  kp
10 years ago

I got the same error. When Ubuntu asked me to choose a different place to install grub, I chose sda5 (my /boot) again and it worked.

However, I have the same problem as kp. After using BCD as per the tutorial, I was met with the grub> screen.

Anthony Zhang
Anthony Zhang
Reply to  kp
10 years ago

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Boot-Repair

Boot repair was able to solve this problem for me!

Adnan
Adnan
Reply to  kp
10 years ago

Same issue as above. My scenario is Windows 7 on primary and I installed Ubuntu on the slave. Followed the steps as above and in the end got GRUB error. After this I chose the slave /sdb5 I think and the installation finished. Booted into Windows and installed EasyBCD. But as shown on the first screen of EasyBCD above, I don’t see the option of GRUB2 under ‘Type’. I can understand that GRUB ever got installed maybe or is not on the primary partition, but what should I do from here? I wonder if I should just have taken the ‘Install alongside windows option and let Ubuntu handle all this!. Any help is appreciated.

Anthony Zhang
Anthony Zhang
Reply to  kp
10 years ago

Damn, still using master/slave drives? Get dat dere SATA! joking aside:

My windows installation was first as well, however, I installed ubuntu on a separate partition on the same drive.

Are you using the most current version EasyBCD? My grub didn’t install properly either and still I had to GRUB2 option in EasyBCD.

Once again, try using boot repair. Boot repair allows you to install grub wherever you want.

Shockostar
Shockostar
10 years ago

Thank youuu! this tutorial is just what I was looking for.
Now I’m able to pick from Ubuntu or Windows at booting.
You’re awesome! =D

Vaheeds
Vaheeds
10 years ago

GREAT JOB!
You don’t know how this article was helpful to me! easy to read and understand for non English speaking readers.
Thank you very much.

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