Dual-booting between a GNU/Linux distribution and Windows on a computer with one or more hard disks is a common practice for those who use both operating systems. It is a somewhat hassle-free approach to keeping a foot in both OS worlds. If you are new to Linux Mint and want to attempt dual-booting between Linux Mint 11 (see Linux Mint 11 review), the latest release of Linux Mint, and Windows 7 on a computer with one hard disk, this tutorial offers detailed instructions on how to accomplish the relatively simple task.

If your computer has more than one hard disk, the steps involved are virtually identical, and this guide can be of great help for setting up dual-booting on a computer with, say, two hard disks.

When configuring dual-booting on a single hard disk, the most important decision you will have to make is whether you want to install GRUB 2, the Linux Mint 11 boot loader, in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the disk, so that when the computer boots, you will see this …

Or this, if you install Windows 7’s boot loader in the MBR.

Regardless of the option you choose, the result is not irreversible. For example, if you install Windows 7’s bootloader in the MBR and you change your mind, you can very easily overwrite it with GRUB. The reverse is also true. As a bonus, the simple steps involved in changing the boot loader installed in the MBR is made available at the end of this article.

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The system used for this tutorial has an existing installation of Windows 7. If your computer has an existing installation of Windows 7 too, your first task is to free up enough space from Windows7. That space will then be used for installing Linux Mint 11. It is just as easy to free up space during the installation of Linux Mint, but this is my preferred method. If the computer you want to use has an existing installation of Windows, but you want to reinstall it, you can save yourself some time by leaving some unpartitioned space on the hard disk.

Okay, enough preliminary stuff. Ready to start? Me too. One more thing. If you have not done so already, download an installation image of Linux Mint 11 from here, burn it to a CD or DVD and keep it around.

To begin, boot into Windows 7, type partitions in the menu’s search filed. That will start the disk management application shown here. You can see that there are two partitions – the System Reserved, and the C drive. The first task is to create space for Linux Mint 11 by shrinking the C drive.

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To do that, right-click anywhere on the drive and select “Shrink Volume…”

The disk management tool will always shrink the disk by half unless there is data in more than half of the disk. Unless you know what you are doing, click Shrink.

The surgical operation is complete. The Unallocated space is where Linux Mint 11 will be installed. Exit the disk management application, insert Linux Mint 11 installation CD or DVD and reboot the computer.

As it boots up you will see the boot menu. Linux Mint 11 is a Live CD/DVD, and you can only start installation from the Live environment. So, press Enter on the keyboard.

Once in the Live environment, click the Install Linux Mint icon on the desktop, then click Forward twice to get to the step shown here. The automated partitioner of the installer does not detect the free space, so the only way to partition and install Linux Mint 11 on it is to use the installer’s Advanced partitioning tool. To get to the Advanced partitioning tool’s window, select “Something Else,” then click Forward.


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8 Responses

  1. This was very easy and helpful – works great with dual boot setup, just resize Windows down first, then use these docs to setup the free space for Linux.

    A suggestion is not to create a separate swap partition but add a swap space within the encrypted file system. Google for swap file ubuntu and you will find some instructions from Digitalocean which will apply.

  2. Salut and thank you very much for your great tutorial on how to install an encrypted Ubuntu.
    You can even use this on your stick but don’t forget to set the right device to write your mbr! ;-D

  3. Doing luks container encryption through the install without the ability to use lvm inside the container during the install is going backwards. In Linux Mint there is a much better way to do it via a script and someone in the know should be able to easily adapt it to Ubuntu (and probably) even Debian. Originally the script was used for Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 (LMDE2) but has recently been adapted to include main line (Ubuntu derivative) Linux Mint 17.1 and 17.2. The script is the one offered by Pepas and it can be located in this Linux Mint forum thread:


    or directly from here:


    I recommend you read at least the 2nd page of the forum thread for some background and familiarization. Instructions for installing and selecting your settings are included in the script you download. Just open it as text, read and make your settings changes prior to running. Keep in mind that you can change the ‘/data’ lv in the settings to be a ‘/home’ lv if you wish.

  4. Mathetes ( above ) has the answer. Can anybody be serious about setting up a system requiring at start up a password for each encrypted partition when, by using the 12.04 alternate CD the same thing could be achieved ( by using LVM ) with one password. We have gone backwards in that respect.

    I am just moving from 12.04 to 14.04 and have now probably many hours of work ahead to reseach how to achieve on 14.04 what was much easier on 12.04

  5. Great procedure except this part:

    “For the boot partition, a disk space of 250 MB should be enough.”

    This is where ubuntu stores header images during kernel updates– and there are a lot of those in 14.04! You eventually run out of space. I would do a couple of GB for /boot.

  6. Ubuntu 14.04 does not allow using LVM after encryption, then making a lvg and lv’s for /, /home, swap and other partition. Instead you need to create one encrypted partion for /, one encrypted partition for /home (using passwords or keys) and one partition for swap. LVM gives more flexibility.

  7. What about Ubuntu Server. I have installed Ubuntu Server 14.04 minimal install and install VirtualBox on my computer to run Windows 7 virtual machine. I would like to have virtual guest snapshots, so I did it this way.

    How to do the same thing as in article for Ubuntu Server. I don’t want to establish LVM and RAID – this is my PC running Ubuntu Server, so don’t have a knowledge and hardware (like multiple disks) to establish LVM/RAID.

    Is there a way to do this on Ubuntu Server. I have tried creating boot partition (no problem), created root and swap partitions defining ‘physical volume for encryption’ (no problem), but now I am stuck, how to define mount point for root and swap partition?

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